Tech Fee money updates labs and enriches educational experience

Tech Fee Program

By Cathy McVey, information technology services

OXFORD, Ohio — What do biofeedback therapy equipment in the student health service and a dry incubator to study protein structures have in common? Both were funded through the Student Technology Fee competitive proposal process.

Each year since 2009, Miami faculty, staff and students have developed innovative and exciting projects and more than $4 million has been awarded to help students in and out of the classroom through the use of technology.

Once a year, usually in February, faculty, staff and students are invited to submit proposals for new technology projects. Following a review process led by IT services staff and including student and faculty members, all proposals are read and evaluated. Awards are made each spring for the following academic year.

Innovative or significant ideas that clearly benefit students are mostly likely to get Tech Fee funding. The guidelines define significant in two ways: impacting a large number of students or having a deep impact on a smaller number. Your project may be directly related to academics or may be part of the broader Miami Experience, making students’ lives better or more productive. Both graduate- and undergraduate-focused proposals are encouraged.

FY18 is a special year, as the pool for competitive awards was larger than the normal amount – $658K. This was made possible by applying Tech Fee funds that had accumulated over the years as the amount collected exceeded the amount budgeted.

The Student Technology Fee is paid by all students on the Oxford campus. It was enacted by the Board of Trustees in 2007, and IT services is responsible for managing how the fees collected are invested. Each year the fund is divided into portions that support broad student technology needs via IT services, academic technology via a deans’ base allocation, and the competitive proposal process.

By Paige Smith

Miami’s engineering and computing labs are receiving some exciting updates thanks to $266,000 received from the Miami tech fee pool.

The Miami tech fee that students pay gets split up three different ways. Part of the pool goes to IT services, who also administers the funds. Part goes to professors, staff, or students who are awarded the money for a specific project as part of a competitive process, and the rest is split amongst the Deans of each of the colleges to be used on new technology. 

Twelve1 engineering and computing projects received funding for the 2017-2018 school year. Eleven were submitted by professors, and one was submitted by a student on behalf of EWB. All of the departments will get at least one new piece of technology this year.

Some of the updates were out of necessity--the current BurstTester in the Paper lab is fifty years old, and is practically unrecognizable when compared to the modern BurstTesters that paper engineers use in industry. It is awkward to use and students find alternative methods to get data, even though BurstTesters are very common in real-world paper science. A new BurstTester will help students learn to use the modern technology.

Other pieces of equipment allow Miami to produce high-quality research. One such piece is a multifunctional tribological test frame to test friction and wear. This device has the ability to measure properties at the nanoscale level, greatly improving the amount of data that can be collected related to properties of materials. 

Colin Atwater, an undergraduate member of Engineers Without Borders, also received funding in order to purchase a PM 2.5 portable particle counter. This will allow EWB to measure air pollution in indoor environments. Because air quality is such a major factor in overall health, this piece of equipment will help them provide healthy engineering solutions to communities abroad.

While most of the money that has been distributed for technologies within CEC has gone to faculty, Atwater’s allocation highlights something important to remember--students can apply to get their technology projects funded as well. This is an underutilized opportunity for students to be able to fund their own research projects. Proposals for tech fee funding are accepted in February of each academic year and funds are disbursed in July and August.

1The projects funded are:

  • Plate reader for CPB labs
  • Actualization of robotic arms for the CISM laboratory
  • Incubator for Biomaterials Lab and tissue culture experiments
  • Enhancing teaching and laboratory capacity of the undergraduate Manufacturing Processes course by acquiring a force dynamometer
  • Addition of motion control capability by adding mechanical actuators and Servo Drives to existing Rockwell PLC controls for 436 lab
  • Multi-functional tribological test frame for friction and wear
  • Atomic Absorption Acquisition for CEC
  • Vibration testing of 3D printed design prototypes for MME courses and design projects
  • PM 2.5 portable particle counter;
  • Mechanical test frame for MME materials lab
  • Replace BurstTester in paper testing lab
  • Beacon-Based large touch screens for student team collaboration and learning
 

Tech Fee Program

By Cathy McVey, information technology services

OXFORD, Ohio — What do biofeedback therapy equipment in the student health service and a dry incubator to study protein structures have in common? Both were funded through the Student Technology Fee competitive proposal process.

Each year since 2009, Miami faculty, staff and students have developed innovative and exciting projects and more than $4 million has been awarded to help students in and out of the classroom through the use of technology.

Once a year, usually in February, faculty, staff and students are invited to submit proposals for new technology projects. Following a review process led by IT services staff and including student and faculty members, all proposals are read and evaluated. Awards are made each spring for the following academic year.

Innovative or significant ideas that clearly benefit students are mostly likely to get Tech Fee funding. The guidelines define significant in two ways: impacting a large number of students or having a deep impact on a smaller number. Your project may be directly related to academics or may be part of the broader Miami Experience, making students’ lives better or more productive. Both graduate- and undergraduate-focused proposals are encouraged.

FY18 is a special year, as the pool for competitive awards was larger than the normal amount – $658K. This was made possible by applying Tech Fee funds that had accumulated over the years as the amount collected exceeded the amount budgeted.

The Student Technology Fee is paid by all students on the Oxford campus. It was enacted by the Board of Trustees in 2007, and IT services is responsible for managing how the fees collected are invested. Each year the fund is divided into portions that support broad student technology needs via IT services, academic technology via a deans’ base allocation, and the competitive proposal process.