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Engineering students to compete in national cybersecurity competition

The University of Toledo’s new engineering team called the Cyber Rockets will face off against more than 100 teams of college students across the country in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 5th annual CyberForce Competition.

The tournament, which tests cybersecurity skills through the defense of critical infrastructure, is happening simultaneously at ten national labs on Saturday, Nov. 16.

The Cyber Rockets, made up of five UToledo engineering students, will travel to Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois to defend a simulated energy company’s network against professionally executed cyberattacks and prevent hackers from compromising any information.

The University’s participation in the competition comes after the U.S. Department of Energy selected UToledo to host National Lab Day, which last month connected students and researchers with preeminent scientists from world-class facilities across the country to explore opportunities for partnerships.

Preparing for UToledo’s debut in the tournament is the main focus for Cyber Rockets Team Captain Brian McKenzie, who doesn’t have to stress out about finding a full-time job after he graduates next month since he already has one lined up through his co-op with a company that creates navigational software for the Army.

“We are excited for this opportunity to learn and meet new people,” McKenzie, a senior studying computer science and engineering technology, said. “We have been researching the kinds of equipment and software the ‘energy company’ might use. It’s going to be a challenging exercise and a fun experience overall.”

The scenarios present teams with the challenge of not only defending one of four pieces of an energy system – an energy company’s solar generation facility, electric substation, data center or manufacturing plant – but communicating with the other three infrastructures to monitor and maintain the integrity of the system as a whole.

Scoring includes a team’s ability to balance security with the need to continue normal work operations.

The scenarios look at real-world constraints and lifelike anomalies, such as no budget for maintenance or upkeep, deficiency in understanding the system’s needs, website defacement, business meetings, and lack of permission controls.

“We have been familiarizing ourselves with the Energy Department’s workflow and system,” said Medha Pujari, a UToledo Ph.D. student studying computer science and engineering. “I am thankful for the opportunity to be a member of this team and have the chance to implement our skills.”

“We are happy to be able to recruit and build our Cyber Rockets team from multiple programs in the College of Engineering,” said Dr. Weiqing Sun, associate professor of computer science and engineering technology, and faculty advisor of the Cyber Rockets. “With the newly established master’s programs in cyber security and cybersecurity graduate certificate program, we expect that UToledo will have a continuously strong presence in future CyberForce competitions.”


UToledo to Honor Veterans Nov. 11

The 15th annual Veterans Appreciation Breakfast and Resource Fair will take place 8 a.m. Monday, Nov. 11 in Savage Arena at The University of Toledo.

UToledo teams up with the American Red Cross and the Lucas County Veterans Service Commission to pay tribute to area veterans and active service members for the sacrifices they have made for their country.

Dr. Mike Toole, dean of the UToledo College of Engineering, will speak at the event on behalf of the University.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be able to thank the men and women who have served and are serving the United States in the armed forces,” Toole said. “This event is a way for our community members to come together to express gratitude and show respect to these dedicated individuals.”

First Sgt. Nathan Wishard of the U.S. Army will give the keynote address. A native of York, Penn., Wishard enlisted in the Army in 2003. He attended basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and completed advanced individual training in the military occupational specialty of Apache helicopter armament/electrical/avionic systems repair at Fort Eustis, Va.

First Sgt. Nathan Wishard

Wishard’s deployments include Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, where he served with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, Attach Reconnaissance Battalion, Wolfpack. Currently, he is serving in the Toledo Recruiting Company within the Cleveland Battalion.

His awards and decorations include a Meritorious Service Medal 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal 5th Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Achievement Medal 17th Oak Leaf Cluster, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal 3rd Knot.

In addition to the free breakfast, local veterans and members of the military and their families will have access to more than 30 military-friendly community resources.

The program also will feature entertainment by the UToledo Jazz Ensemble and fourth-graders from Waterville Primary School, as well as a historical military vehicle display.

Members of the Rossford High School S.O.S. (Serving Our Soldiers) Club will greet and assist veterans through the breakfast line.

Free parking will be available in lots 3, 5 and 6 near Savage Arena.


U.S. Department of Energy invests $5.7 million into UToledo solar technology research

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded The University of Toledo $5.7 million for two solar energy technology research projects.

Both projects involve the University collaborating with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and First Solar, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of solar cells and a company that originated in UToledo laboratories.

It’s part of $128 million in grant funding the federal agency announced today it is awarding to 75 research projects across the country to advance solar technologies that will lower solar electricity costs while working to boost solar manufacturing, reduce red tape, and make solar systems more resilient to cyberattacks.

Media are invited to a news conference 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6 in the UToledo Research and Technology Complex Room 1010. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Dr. Frank Calzonetti, UToledo vice president of research, will speak at the event.

The total federal funding awarded to northern Ohio today is $11 million with the addition of $3 million to Eaton Corporation near Cleveland. Representatives from Eaton are scheduled to attend the news conference at UToledo.

“Advancing global leadership in solar energy technology continues to be a critical focus of the University, and we are proud of the incredible progress and determination of our researchers,” Calzonetti said. “In the last few months alone, nearly $14 million in competitive federal funding has now been awarded to faculty and students working on cutting-edge solar technology in the UToledo Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization. Providing a strong research underpinning of our region’s solar energy industry is central to our mission.”

“Investments from the Department of Energy are yielding real results for ensuring a competitive 21st century solar industry right here in Northern Ohio,” Kaptur said. “Today’s competitively awarded grants highlight and support Northern Ohio’s important role in the research and development of solar technology. Solar technology will be a monumental part of our economic and clean energy future, not only as a region, but as a nation and as a planet. Innovative institutions including The University of Toledo and Eaton Corporation, both of which are national leaders in photovoltaics research, are moving the ball forward. As the Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, I will continue to prioritize Department of Energy programs that fund these important programs and grant opportunities.”

Building on its more than 30-year history advancing solar technology to power the world using clean energy, UToledo is pushing the performance of solar cells to levels never before reached.

The Department of Energy awarded UToledo $4.5 million to develop the next-generation solar panel by bringing a new, ultra-high efficiency material the consumer market.

As part of the project, UToledo will work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and First Solar to develop industrially relevant methods for both the fabrication and performance prediction of low-cost, efficient and stable perovskite thin-film PV modules.

Perovskites are compound materials with a special crystal structure formed through chemistry.

Dr. Yanfa Yan, UToledo professor of physics and leader of the project, has had great success in the lab drawing record levels of power from the same amount of sunlight by using two perovskites on top of each other that use two different parts of the sun’s spectrum on very thin, flexible supporting material.

Yan’s efforts have increased the efficiency of the new solar cell to about 23 percent.

“We are producing higher-efficiency, lower-cost solar cells that show great promise to help solve the world energy crisis,” Yan said. “The meaningful work will help protect our planet for our children and future generations.”

The Department of Energy also announced an award of $3.5 million to Colorado State University to work with UToledo, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, First Solar and the University of Illinois at Chicago on a project to improve the voltage produced by cadmium-telluride-based solar cells. The amount of the award in this project going to The University of Toledo is approximately $1.2 million. UToledo’s leader on this project is Dr. Michael Heben, UToledo professor of physics and McMaster endowed chair.

The grants come after the Department of Energy selected UToledo to host National Lab Day, which last month connected students and researchers with preeminent scientists from world-class facilities across the country to explore opportunities for additional partnerships.

This summer the U.S. Air Force awarded UToledo physicists $7.4 million to develop solar technology that is lightweight, flexible, highly efficient and durable in space so it can provide power for space vehicles using sunlight.

The U.S. Department of Energy also recently awarded UToledo physicists $750,000 to improve the production of hydrogen as fuel, using clean energy – solar power – to split the water molecule and create clean energy – hydrogen fuel.


UTMC to host educational program on CryoMAZE, other treatments for atrial fibrillation

The University of Toledo Medical Center now offers an innovative, minimally invasive surgical treatment for patients with atrial fibrillation, eliminating the need to continue on blood thinners.

The procedure, called CryoMAZE, uses precision application of extreme cold inside the heart the heart, establishing a barrier that prevents stray electrical signals from causing the heart to beat irregularly.

“The goal of this procedure is to kill the cells without damaging the walls of the heart. If the cells are dead, they cannot conduct electricity. That makes a fence so the electrical impulses don’t spill over into the rest of atrium. It’s like putting insulation on a wire — you are letting electrical impulse to go through only in the normal path without spreading around randomly,” said Dr. Saqib Masroor, chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UTMC.

Dr. Saqib Masroor

Dr. Masroor will give a free, educational presentation on atrial fibrillation and the latest treatment options, including minimally invasive CryoMAZE, at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7, in the Center for Creative Education on Health Science Campus.

For more information or to register for the event, call 419.383.6939.

Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is the most common type of heart arrhythmia in the United States, affecting between 2.7 million and 6.1 million Americans.

In AFib, the heart’s upper chambers, or atria, don’t beat in coordination with the heart’s lower chambers, or ventricles. That can lead to pooling of the blood and clotting in the atria, creating an increased risk of congestive heart failure and stroke.

Blood thinners are commonly used to reduce the risk of stroke in AFib patients, but they can increase the risk of bleeding. Other options for treating AFib require open-heart surgery or the use of catheters threaded through major arteries in either the groin or neck to get to the heart.

In the minimally invasive CryoMAZE procedure, a surgeon makes a small incision in the right side of the chest. Through that, they’re able to access the outside of the heart and create scar tissue with the specialized probe that is cooled to approximately -60 degrees Celsius. A surgeon also can put a clip on the left atrial through the same incision.

The recovery time in hospital is typically three to five days.

Masroor said success rates for CryoMAZE are approximately 90%. An added benefit of using cold rather than heat to create scar tissue is that there isn’t a risk of putting a hole in the heart.

“Many people don’t know their options beyond blood thinners,” Masroor said. “We want to educate people that there are many safe options that will prevent them from having to take blood thinners and have complications from atrial fibrillation.”


‘Lake Erie Bill of Rights’ Topic of Great Lakes Water Conference Nov. 8

Toledo’s Lake Erie Bill of Rights will take center stage during the 19th annual Great Lakes Water Conference at The University of Toledo College of Law.

Approved by voters in February and challenged by a lawsuit in federal court, the new “rights of nature” ordinance that allows citizens to sue on behalf of the lake to address pollution has attracted national and international attention.

The conference, which is sponsored by the College of Law and its Legal Institute of the Great Lakes, will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8 in the Law Center McQuade Auditorium.

“Three panels of experts will be tackling issues of local, regional, national and international import,” said Ken Kilbert, UToledo professor of law and director of the Legal Institute of the Great Lakes. “Law and policy are key to the solutions.”

The keynote speaker at 8:45 a.m. will be Carrie Sowden, archaeological director of the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

The first panel, which will debate the city of Toledo’s Lake Erie Bill of Rights, starts at 9:15 a.m. Kilbert will serve as moderator with speakers Jason Hill, court administrator for the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals, who teaches election law; Terry Lodge, a Toledo attorney who specializes in environmental and energy issues and supports the ordinance; and Louis Tosi, attorney with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick in Toledo who serves as chair of the firm’s Environmental Practice Group.

The other two panels will explore water quality problems posed by PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals, a proposed rule affecting the reach of the federal Clean Water Act, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s new H2Ohio initiative, and a proposed new diversion of Great Lakes water.

The one-day conference is free and open to the public. Registration is $75 for attorneys seeking 4.5 hours of Ohio Continuing Legal Education credit.

For more information about the conference, visit the College of Law website at utoledo.edu/law/academics/ligl/conferences.


UToledo Pre-Health Advising Center offers enhanced support for students pursuing healthcare careers

The University of Toledo is celebrating the opening of a specialized undergraduate advising center to support students in UToledo’s growing pre-professional and allied health programs.

A ribbon cutting to dedicate the new Pre-Health Advising Center will take place at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7, outside University Hall Room 2160. The relocated Nursing Advising Center, located across the hall, also will be recognized.

Two people standing in office

Pre-Health Advising Center Director Deborah Hendricks, left, and Program Coordinator Shavron Kelley.

The new Pre-Health Advising Center brings together a comprehensive array of services for students interested in pursuing a career in healthcare.

Academic advisers will be available to help students who have declared a pre-med/pre-vet/pre-dental concentration with course selection, provide information about clinical and networking opportunities, and offer guidance on navigating the application process to medical school and other professional healthcare programs.

“We know that jobs in healthcare are growing. As part of our commitment to student success, we want to ensure our students are on-track and well-prepared to enter those career fields,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, vice provost for faculty affairs and professor of public health. “This center provides specialized resources to support and encourage students, as well as help them review their options at UToledo.”

UToledo boasts an extensive catalog of options for undergraduate students pursuing a career in healthcare, including a number of pre-medicine tracks, pre-physical therapy, pre-dental, pre-veterinary and pre-pharmacy.

The Pre-Health Advising Center is open to all undergraduates enrolled in a healthcare program. Staff at the center also can provide guidance to those considering attending UToledo or who are undecided on a major explore the University’s numerous pre-professional and allied health fields.

“We want our students to find the right home for their interests and talents,” Thompson said. “Our advisers can walk students through academic prerequisites and help them evaluate all possible majors that are in the health professions so that they find the best fit.”

The center also has special workshops for pre-medicine, pre-dental and pre-veterinary students, as well as students enrolled in UToledo’s Bacc2MD program and the UToledo/Case Western Reserve University’s School of Dental Medicine program.


UToledo awarded federal grant to train teenagers in cybersecurity

From hackers to cyberbullies, cybercriminals are increasingly targeting technology-hungry teenagers.

To combat the growing problem, the National Science Foundation awarded The University of Toledo College of Engineering a three-year, $267,742 grant to teach local high school students about the risks and threats associated with smartphones, tablets and other technology, as well as provide cybersecurity training to encourage careers in computer science and cybersecurity.

Dr. Ahmad Javaid

“The cybersecurity landscape is changing fast, and due to the ubiquitous information on the internet, the enemies of the state are more dangerous and advanced than ever,” said Dr. Ahmad Javaid, assistant professor in the UToledo Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, director of the Paul A. Hotmer Cybersecurity and Teaming Research Lab, and project leader. “We need to train the future workforce to prepare them for what’s to come and protect the nation.”

The plan calls for a summer camp setting and using interactive, animated visualizations to help students understand cybersecurity threats, defense and prevention mechanisms.

If the project aimed at creating a safer cyber environment is successful locally, the new high school cybersecurity curriculum could be adopted nationwide.

UToledo is collaborating with Purdue University Northwest (PNW) on the research. The NSF awarded PNW about $230,000, bringing the total funding for the project to nearly half a million dollars.


UToledo jumps 43 spots in ‘Best for Vets’ ranking

Surging 43 spots in one year, The University of Toledo has been recognized again as a top school for supporting student veterans.

The Military Times awarded UToledo the Best for Vets 2020 designation, ranking UToledo No. 80 out of 134 four-year institutions. The University was ranked 123 out of 208 in 2019.

“The University of Toledo Military Service Center is honored to help our service men and women succeed, and the Military Times: Best for Vets designation recognizes our steadfast commitment,” said Eric Buetikofer, UToledo director of military and veteran affairs. “We have worked hard over the last year in adding new programming that, we feel, has improved our students’ sense of connection to the University and UToledo community.”

For 10 years, Military Times has conducted an extensive, editorially independent, objective study evaluating the many factors that help make colleges and universities a good fit for service members, military veterans and their families.

“The University has made great strides over the last year to improve our ability to track military-connected students, which has allowed us to communicate more effectively with our student population and work with them as they progress towards graduation and beyond,” Buetikofer said. “This increase in rankings is a reflection of the team effort led by University College, including the Military Service Center staff and student workers.”

The rankings are based on the results of Military Times’ annual survey — a school-by-school assessment of veteran and military student services and rates of academic achievement — as well as a detailed review of public data collected by federal agencies.

Military Times’ annual survey asks colleges and universities to disclose academic outcome and input data; describe many aspects of veteran culture on campus; and document a wide array of services, policies, accommodations and financial incentives offered to students with military ties. Military Times also factors in data from the Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, as well as three Education Department sources: the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Center, College Scorecard data and the Cohort Default Rate Database.

See the 2020 Best for Vets list on Military Times’ website at militarytimes.com/education-transition/2019/10/28/best-for-vets-top-colleges-2020.


Public Invited to Catholic Studies Lecture to Discuss Women Priests Nov. 6

“I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent,” according to St. Paul in the Bible (1 Timothy 2:12).

In the modern age, this thousand-year-old scripture is being challenged in many Christian denominations.

The University of Toledo Annual Murray/Bacik Lecture in Catholic Studies will tackle this question. The presentation titled “Should Catholics Have Women Priests?” will take place 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6 in the Law Center McQuade Auditorium.

Dr. Peter Feldmeier, the Murray/Bacik Professor of Catholic Studies at the University, will be the speaker.

“My hope is that people coming to the lecture become informed on the complexity of the issue, its arguments for and against, and perhaps even come to their own conclusions,” Feldmeier said. “While it is something of an in-house debate in Catholicism, it ought not to be imagined as merely a Catholic issue.”

It also is a cultural issue: Should feminism as it is being advanced in the larger culture be advanced in religion?

Feldmeier said he and Dr. Yonatan Miller, director of the UToledo Center for Religious Understanding and assistant professor of religious studies, pondered the Catholic Church’s investigation on the possibility of ordaining women as deacons. The conversation moved to the priesthood itself and how Catholicism has responded to the challenge — or failed to respond.

Presented by the UToledo Center for Religious Understanding, the free, public lecture will be followed by a dessert reception.

 


UToledo law graduates have strongest showing in Ohio Bar exams in 10 years

The number of graduates from The University of Toledo College of Law who passed the July bar exam in Ohio on the first try is well above the state average.

It’s also UToledo’s highest result for first-time takers on the summer exam in a decade.

The newly released data shows the first-time passage rate for UToledo law graduates taking the bar exam is 89%, up from 84% in July 2018. The state average in Ohio this year is 82%.

“I am very proud of our graduates for their success on the bar exam,” said College of Law Dean D. Benjamin Barros. “We have done a lot of work at the College of Law over the past several years to help our graduates succeed on the bar exam.  At the end of the day, though, it is the graduates who do the hard work needed to pass the exam, and this result is the payoff for their efforts.”

The UToledo College of Law is committed to preparing students for a successful career with programming and partnerships dedicated to bar passage.

In the last few years, the college aligned its curriculum to bar-tested subjects, developed a first-year support program, expanded its third-year bar prep course, and implemented a legal analysis course and academic success contracts.

The UToledo College of Law also created the position of director of academic success and bar preparation, designed to prepare both third-year students and graduates for the bar exam. Through post-graduation mentoring, every law graduate is paired with a faculty mentor to provide support during bar exam study.

Plus, the UToledo College of Law partnered with BARBRI, a company headquartered in Texas, to offer students access to its comprehensive bar review course with flexible classroom, online and mobile learning environments.