The Parkland College Blog

Trustees Tour Health Lab, Raise Salaries

Erik Johnson to become new Staerkel Planetarium director

The Parkland College Board of Trustees toured the school's simulation lab Wednesday and approved annual salary increases for its administrators and confidential and supervisory staff.

The board also hired a new director for the William M. Staerkel Planetarium to replace longtime director David Leake, who will retire in June.

Trustees held their May meeting at Parkland College's Health Professions wing, in the Parkland on Mattis building, in order to tour the Huff-McGrain Simulation Laboratory. Named in 2013 for retired Nursing faculty JoAnn McGrain and the late Dr. Joanne Huff, the college's high-fidelity simulation lab is home to two computer-controlled, full-sized mannequins named iStan and MetiMan, manufactured by CAE, as well as an obstetrics simulator, Noelle and her baby, made by Gaumard. The American Nurses Association (ANA) and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) support and recognize the use of simulation as designated clinical hours. 

The Huff-McGrain simulation lab is slated for an upgrade this summer to accommodate the increasing demand for simulation; simulation use at Parkland College has increased greatly in recent years. Expansion plans include the addition of two simulation bays, a dedicated debriefing room, a mobile nurses station and upgraded operator stations. The lab provides clinical simulation instruction to students enrolled in the associate-degree nursing, LPN, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Respiratory Therapy, and Emergency Medical Services programs. The mannequins mimic the vital signs and physiological response of living humans, allowing students an additional level of practice in recognizing and responding to medical and emergency situations. Students develop their teamwork and clinical skills through the simulated clinical experiences and debriefings the lab provides.

Parkland's trustees approved 3 percent (or up to 3.5 percent, pending state budget) annual salary increases for the college's administrators and confidential and supervisory staff, matching similar increases for professional support staff.

Among its personnel appointments for May, the board approved the hiring of Erik Johnson as director of the school's planetarium to replace David Leake. Winner of the 2017 North Central Region of the Astronomical League Award and a founder of the Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society (CUAS), Leake has served on the college's astronomy and physics faculty since 1989. Johnson, an associate professor of astronomy at Parkland since 2011, will begin as director Aug. 12.

Trustees also approved the following:

  • exempt purchase of services from Carle Regional Emergency Medical Systems of Urbana, $25,600.

  • exempt purchase of the Scholarship Manager online scholarship program license through 2022 from Next Gen of Jacksonville, Fla., $22,000.

  • PHS purchase of construction services from Open Road Paving of Urbana for campus walkway/B1 and B7 parking lot repairs, $1,432,166.

  • selection of Commerce Bank of Champaign as the college's procurement card (PCard) vendor.

  • additional personnel appointments:

    • Joshua Weber, Physics tenure-track faculty, Natural Sciences

    • Kory Allred, Construction adjunct faculty, Agriculture/Engineering Science Technologies

    • Kaitlyn Uden, Talent specialist, Human Resources

    • Oliver Swann, Library Technical Services Specialist - Acquisitions, Library

Kaler Science Talk: The Black Hole in the Heart of M87

UI astronomer will discuss steps leading up to the now famed M87 image 

On April 10, astronomers around the globe hailed the first image of a black hole in the heart of the galaxy Messier 87, using Event Horizon Telescope observations. This extraordinary scientific feat was accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers, one of whom will discuss this discovery at Parkland College next month.

Dr. Charles Forbes Gammie, professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Illinois, will speak about black holes and the steps leading up to this M87 image during the final Kaler Science lecture of the spring semester. His talk will be Friday, May 3 at 7 p.m. at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium. Admission is $2 at the door with "Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium" admitted free of charge. 

Messier 87 is an elliptical galaxy in Virgo roughly 55 million light years away. It is one of the most massive galaxies in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. Radio waves were found emanating from the galaxy in 1947, and a rocket launched in 1966 found the galaxy to be an X-ray source. Soon after, M87 was suspected to harbor a large black hole. The EHT image is the first direct image of the center of the galaxy.  

Gammie was the leader of the theoretical working group for the Event Horizon Telescope Project. He was assisted by graduate students Ben Prather and Charles Wong and former graduate student Ben R. Ryan. His team generated an extensive library of sophisticated 3D computer models that could be compared with EHT observational data, a massive computational undertaking. Gammie is a theoretical and computational astrophysicist who has worked on black hole formation and star formation. He has developed numerical methods for modeling relativistic plasmas and radiative processes in very hot plasmas. He has been at the University of Illinois since 1999, serving as the chair of the Astronomy Department from 2011 to 2014. 

Following Gammie's talk, the planetarium will present the fulldome show "Two Small Pieces of Glass: The Amazing Telescope" and then "Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon." Tickets for regular planetarium programs range from $5 to $6, all sold at the door. For a full schedule of events, call the show hotline at 217/351-2446 or visit parkland.edu/planetarium.

[Image from the EHT Collaboration at nasa.gov]

Regional Science Olympiad Winners Advance to State Tourney

Top teams will compete April 13 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Area high school and middle school teams advance to statewide scientific competition next month after winning the recent Parkland College Regional Science Olympiad tournament.

The following top teams will compete at the April 13 Illinois Science Olympiad state tournament at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
 
Division B (middle schools)

  • St. Matthew Catholic School (1st place)

  • Franklin STEAM Academy (2nd place)

Division C (high schools)

  • University Laboratory High School (1st place)

  • Mahomet Seymour High School (2nd place)

  • Centennial High School (3rd place)

  • Argenta-Oreana High School (4th place)

During the regional tourney in early March, 26 varsity and junior varsity teams from 17 area schools used their problem-solving skills and knowledge of scientific concepts in 40+ events throughout the day, including hands-on experiments and demonstrations. Students were tested on biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology concepts.

Science Olympiad is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of science education, increasing student interest in science and providing recognition for outstanding achievement in science education by both students and teachers. Last year, more than 7,400 secondary schools participated in Science Olympiad tournaments.

Artificial Intelligence Topic of April Kaler Science Lecture

UIUC professor to discuss principles, advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning

The history, principles and advancement of artificial intelligence will shape April's James B. Kaler Science Lecture at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium.

University of Illinois Assistant Professor Dr. Alexander Schwing, from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will present "Artificial Intelligence: Making a Brain out of Data and Compute," on Friday, April 5 at 7 p.m. Admission is $2 at the door with Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium admitted free of charge.

Recent advances in artificial intelligence have tempted experts to label the technology "the new electricity," in reference to transformations equaling those caused by electricity 100 years ago. In his presentation, Schwing will discuss the history of the field, explain pictorially one of the main principles in artificial intelligence and machine learning, demonstrate recent advances of the field and envision future developments.

His talk is intended to be accessible to the general public. No prior knowledge is required.

Schwing's research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign centers on machine learning and computer vision. He is particularly interested in algorithms for prediction with and learning of nonlinear, multivariate and structured distributions, and their application in numerous tasks, such as in 3D scene understanding from a single image. He completed his PhD in computer science in the Computer Vision and Geometry Group at ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

Following Schwing's talk, the planetarium will present the fulldome show, "Two Small Pieces of Glass: The Amazing Telescope" followed by a show based on Pink Floyd’s "The Wall." Tickets for regular planetarium programs range from $5 to $6. Call 217/351-2446 or visit the planetarium website for more information.

Parkland to Host Regional Science Olympiad

Area high school, middle school students to compete in science subjects

Area high school and middle school students will face off in a scientific competition at Parkland College on Saturday, March 9 during the regional Science Olympiad tournament.

The annual event, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. throughout the campus, will feature 26 varsity and junior varsity teams from 17 area schools. Contestants will use their problem-solving skills and knowledge of scientific concepts in over 40 events throughout the day, including hands-on experiments and demonstrations. The students, who have been preparing for this event during the school year, will be tested on biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology concepts.

Winning teams will receive awards at ceremonies in Miner Theatre and Dodds Athletic Center (gym) following the competition and will advance to the Illinois Science Olympiad state tournament, to be held April 13 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Science Olympiad is an international nonprofit organization devoted to improving the quality of science education, increasing student interest in science and providing recognition for outstanding achievement in science education by both students and teachers. Last year, more than 7,400 secondary schools participated in Science Olympiad tournaments.
 
For more information about the Parkland regional including volunteering opportunities, visit http://www.illinoisolympiad.org/parkland-college.html.

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