University Engineering Students Complete Two-Year Baja Journey With Outstanding Finish

Posted May 26, 2015


Western New England University engineering students recently competed in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Mini-Baja competition in Maryland. The Golden Bear Baja racing team participated in this highly competitive international Baja race program against 97 other colleges and universities from around the world including India, Israel, South Korea, Brazil and more. This was the College of Engineering's first time competing in this prestigious and grueling annual event. Mini-Baja racing is a form of off-road “dune buggy” style racing on dirt or sand courses.

“The Baja Race project was an amazing educational experience,” explained Jeremy Downs. “Our team spent two years preparing the mini-Baja vehicle, and I was thrilled to be selected as the team driver.” Downs added.

The team of engineering students worked for two years to raise support, design, build, test, promote, and race a vehicle that meets specific Baja SAE® design specifications, size constraints, and other rules. All university teams are required to use the same model of Briggs & Stratton 10-HP engine. 

The four-day competition is comprised of several events. The first two days focus on “static” events such as sales and design presentations and a thorough technical inspection of the vehicle (all cars must be deemed safe for racing by SAE judges). The third day focused on four “dynamic” mini-events: acceleration, hill climbing, maneuverability, and suspension/traction.

Finally, the main event takes place on the fourth day, a four-hour endurance race through a difficult race course filled with obstacles, where the goal is to complete as many laps as possible without breaking down. This year, nearly two dozen vehicles broke down within the first hour of the race. The Golden Bear vehicle was among the few still standing by the end of the four-hour endurance marathon.

baja_race_2jpgWestern New England’s performance was truly outstanding. Most notable results were: 18th place in the endurance race, 10th place in the sales presentation, and 30th place overall.

“I am extremely proud and thoroughly impressed with what these students have accomplished,” remarked Dr. Jose Riofrio, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and team advisor. “As a first-year Mini-Baja team, our students stood tall against top-tier teams, some of which have 25+ years of Mini-Baja racing experience. Our success is a clear indication of the quality of our students and our engineering program. The team is more motivated than ever to continue to improve and find a spot in the top 10 overall rank,” Riofrio added. 

“Everyone on the team worked really hard towards a common goal and we learned together every day of the project,” explained student and team leader David Greenslade.  “We’re proud of what we accomplished, but, as soon as we got back to school after the race, the team went back to the drawing board to make modifications, and make next season even more successful,” Greenslade added. 

team_photo_post_racejpgGroup photo L-R: Faculty Advisor Dr. Jose Riofrio, junior Thomas Kennedy, senior Tim Pompa, Alex Knizek‘14, sophomore Jacob Farron, Dave Greenslade (grad student & team leader), sophomore Alec Guay, junior Ian Oaks, junior Ryan Heacox, junior Peter Lombardo, freshman Dan Groth, senior Ben Lessard, and inside vehicle, junior Jeremy Downs, driver 

“This was our first design and we did great, but there's always room for improvement, that’s what engineering is about,” explained sophomore Jacob Farron.  “Our vehicle weighed about 570 lbs, a bit heavy compared to Cornell University’s vehicle at 299 lbs. The main goal for next year’s competition is to reduce weight while maintaining our main performance characteristics.”

To view and download more photos click here.

The events were broadcast live on the SAE website. Recordings of these broadcasts can be found here (watch for blue & yellow car #27) (dynamic events) (endurance race) 

The team would like to thank their sponsors, most notably the Western New England Alumni Association, who provided several grants that were instrumental towards the development of the vehicle. Support from sponsorships will continue to place a crucial role in the continued success of the team. 

For more information, photos and videos, the team welcomes everyone to visit the following pages: (under construction).



Future Engineers Emerge at Annual First-year and Senior Student Exhibition 

Posted May 26, 2015


For Western New England University’s 100 graduating engineering students, the Emerging Engineers Exhibition held on April 30 provided an opportunity to display and discuss their capstone Senior Design Projects. Among the more than 40 first-year student teams, it was a platform to showcase how they had synthesized theory into application in their Freshman Product Innovations course.

“One of the best parts of my first year was finishing our project and having a great response and feedback from the Exhibition judges,” said first-year student Lloyd Beazley, whose team develop the “Smart Lock,” Bluetooth enabled door-locking app. “Getting a thumbs up from friends and professors to see that our project is working and has a purpose was a great feeling.”


Other freshman products included the Peace of Mind food allergen detector, a Smart Shower System, and the Pill Pusher, a prescription medicine reminder system.

Seniors presented an impressive cross-section of projects representative of Departments of Biomedical, Electrical, Industrial, and Mechanical Engineering. Projects ranged from a “Closed-looped Electromyography Controller for Augmented Hand Exoskeleton Gripping to “Three-Dimensional Acoustic Trapping and Manipulation of Living Cells.”

To learn more about the academic programs in the College of Engineering click here.


University Holds First Combined Doctoral, Law, Pharmacy, Master's Commencement Ceremony

Posted May 18, 2015


On Sunday, May 17, Western New England University conferred Doctoral, Law, Pharmacy, and Master’s degrees to 343 students during its 2015 Graduate Commencement Ceremony in the Alumni Healthful Living Center on campus. Degree candidates received their diplomas and traditional degree hoods.

Law alumna Gale Candaras L’83 delivered the grad_5jpgcommencement address and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Senator Candaras, a Democrat, served in the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives for nearly two decades.

Senator Candaras told the graduates, “You have entered the helping professions, law, pharmacy, psychology, business or sciences. Be a leader as well as a practitioner. Fight for the people you serve. Fight for higher standards and more resources. Don’t just complain about problems you find in your profession, fight for the solutions.”  

As the College of Pharmacy conferred Pharm.D. degrees upon its first graduating class, Dean Evan Robinson remarked to the students, “ Over the past four years, you’re shared your hearts with us, your inner compass. You’ve allowed us to experience your passion, drive and professionalism. You’ve allowed us to be a part of your personal development, and for that you have our heartfelt gratitude.”


School of Law Dean Eric Gouvin explained to the gathering, “As you sit here you may think you know what your professional journey holds in store for you, but don’t forget the wisdom of John Lennon who said, ‘Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.’ Or, the Jewish proverb, “People make plans – and God laughs.”

Gouvin added, “I do hope your dreams come true, but, it’s your journey – you own it, you are responsible for making the most of it.”

To view/download more photos click here.


2015 Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony

Posted May 16, 2015

Western New England University Undergraduate _katagas_capriojpgCommencement was held on Saturday, May 16 in the Alumni Healthful Living Center on the University campus. University alumnus Anthony Katagas '92, one of the most prolific producers working in American independent film, and winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture for his role in producing 12 Years a Slave, delivered an inspirational commencement address and was awarded the Western New England University President’s Medallion. Katagas remarked, "In my business and in life, the more people you can have around you, who you can really be honest with, who appreciate your strengths and understand your weaknesses, the more successful you will be."    

Graduating Senior Thomas Cowin gave the Class of 2015 student address reminding his tomas_cowin_33jpgfellow graduates that, "We don't know all that life will bring, but I do know that some of the friendships we formed on this campus will be with us through it all."

2015 Blue and Gold Points of Pride 

Total degrees conferred: 924
Undergraduate Degrees: 581
Master’s degrees: 158
Ph.D. degrees: 7
J.D. and LL.M. from School of Law: 110
Pharm.D from College of Pharmacy 68

Top 5 fields of study for Undergraduates:
Mechanical Engineering, Psychology, Criminal Justice, Accounting, and Sport Management

Katlyn Kress and service dog Faith receive their degree


23 states represented by undergraduate students:
Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Vermont.

24 states represented by graduate students:
Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. 

To view/download photos of Undergrad Commencement click here.

To view/download photos of Doctoral, Law, Pharmacy, Master's Commencement click here.


Planting Day Helps Beautify University Campus

Posted May 14, 2015

bloomingals2015sdentzudfradettebcooleyacardonadlaviolettesmarquesjpgjpgL-R: Susan Dentau, Diane Fradette, Barb Cooley, Awilda Cardona, Donna Laviolette, and     Sandra Marques, the Law School "Bloomingals"

Dozens of Western New England University employees took time out of their busy workday on Tuesday May 12, to don a t-shirt and participate in the annual campus Planting Day event. This annual tradition was started to help beautify the campus before thousands of visitors arrive on campus for Commencement Weekend. 

The 2015 University Undergraduate Commencement ceremony is scheduled for Saturday May 16, at 2:00 p.m. in the Alumni Healthful Living Center, and will stream live at Live streaming will be available starting shortly before the ceremony begins at 2:00 p.m. 

The Doctoral, Law, Pharmacy, and Master's Degree Commencement will be held on Sunday May 17, in the Alumni Healthful Living Center at 2:00 p.m., and will also stream live starting shortly before 2:00 p.m.




Media Festival Winners Announced

Posted May 13, 2015

By, junior Alexa Rowe

Western New England University’s College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Communication hosted the 13th annual student Media Festival earlier this month. The event is designed to showcase and celebrate the work students have produced throughout the academic year. More than 100 people attended to screen the productions. Featured productions come from six distinct categories including TV reports, music videos, PSAs/TV commercials, short films, radio essays, and radio reports.

The festival is a competition with each category judged by a panel of experts including faculty, alumni, and local media professionals. “It's a terrific experience for their work to be viewed and judged by area media professionals. Several students have been offered jobs because their projects were shown at this event.” said Brenda Garton-Sjoberg, Department of Communication and the festival’s faculty advisor. Some of the judges for the festival included  Western New England University alumni who are now working as professionals in the media.

Professor Brenda Garton, Tucker Schumitz, Eathan Popowitz, Andrew Moalli, Nate Szymanski, Sarah Babski, Dean Saeed Ghahramani

Jury Award TV Report
First Place: Sarah Babski "Puzzle Making"
Second Place: Kevin Babcock "Envision Marketing"
Third Place: Bobby Caruso "Stageless Players"

Jury Award Music Videos
First Place: Tucker Schumitz "Love is an Open Door"
Second Place: Thomas Quinlan "I Got You"
Third Place: Eric Stinson "California Dreamin'"

Jury Award PSA/Commercial
First Place: Tucker Schumitz "Adopt a Pet"
Second Place: Thomas Quilan "Bauer Commercial"
Third Place: Maryann Gubala "Anti Bullying"

People's Choice Award TV Report
First Place: Sarah Babski "Puzzle Making"
Second Place: Kevin Babcock "Envision Marketing"
Third Place: Sarah Babski "WMAS"

People's Choice Award Music Videos
First Place: Tucker Schumitz "Love is an Open Door"
Second Place: Sarah Babski "Getting Younger"
Third Place: Andrea Depoutot "The Wonder of You"

People's Choice PSA/Commercial
First Place: Tucker Schumitz "Adopt a Pet"
Second Place: Thomas Quinlan "Bauer Commercial"
Third Place: Kevin Babcock "Mortar Board"

Radio Report
First Place: Nate Szymanski “Maple Sugaring”
Second Place: Aubrie Przybysz “Boston Marathon”
Third Place: Ethan Popowitz “Debtors”
Certificate of Achievement: Andrea Depoutot “Eye Exams”

Radio Essay
First Place: Ethan Popowitz “My sister”
Second Place: Bobby Caruso “Stuttering”
Third Place: Aubrie Przybysz "Grandpa's 90th"
Certificate of Achievement: Alexa Rowe “Easter Traditions”
Certificate of Achievement: Stephen Romano “Diabetes”

Short Film/Essay
First Place: Andrew Moalli for “Gray's Job”
Second Place: Courtney Miller/ GBTV "The Studio"
Third Place: Michael Masciadrelli "Spiritual Life"

Click here to view photos of the 13th annual student Media Festival event.


Western New England University to Host Regional Social Work Conference

Posted May 11, 2015

Western New England University will host the 33rd annual Regional Social Work Conference on Wednesday, May 27 from 8:45 a.m. to 4:05 p.m. The event features 46 workshops designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of Social Workers and Human Services professionals of all experience levels. Presentations will focus on important issues facing Social Work professionals when dealing with children and families, the elderly, mental health, substance abuse, multicultural issues, and personal development.


Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, Linda Sanford will deliver the conference keynote address, “Strong at the Broken Places: Resilient Survivors and their Workers.” The myth of “once damaged goods, always damaged goods” supposes that a survivor of trauma is destined to continue patterns of abuse—against self or others. Quite to the contrary, most survivors go on to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Many, in fact, derive their greatest strengths in the very areas where they’ve been hurt the most, not only becoming strong, but “strong at the broken places.”

Sanford’s keynote will explore this issue along with the availability of clients’ workers to support this theme through their own resiliency. She is the author of Strong at the Broken Places: Building Resiliency in the Lives of Survivors (1990, 2004) and The Silent Children (1980). Sanford is also coauthor of Women and Self-Esteem (1984) and In Defense of Ourselves (1978).

Sanford began her career working with victims of sexual assault. She also worked for 20 years with youth who were convicted of crimes. She has also taught at various graduate schools of social work in Massachusetts. Currently, she is a visiting Professor of Trauma Informed Social Work at Wheelock College.

In addition, the conference will feature the presentation of the 19th annual Jim Quinn Human Service Award to Ms. Julie Borowski for her more than 36-year career working in Human Services field. The Jim Quinn Award honors a human service professional whomade outstanding contributions to the social work profession.

Registration is now open and will remain open until the day of the conference. The full-day conference is $144 ($129 if registering before May 19). Full-time Western New England University students may attend for $25, while non-employed, full-time students from other colleges and universities may attend for $50. For more information call 413-796-2173 or register on-line here.

The conference is a joint effort of Western New England University’s Bachelor of Social Work program, Social Work Advisory Council, and Office of Professional Development.


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