Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering hosts “E-Day” on February 27, 2015

The Corner News :

Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering hosts “E-Day” on February 27, 2015. E-Day will be held in the Auburn University Student Center.

E-Day is a two-pronged event designed to be an open house for prospective engineering students and an educational resource to anyone who chooses to attend.  Students in seventh to 12th grade attend E-Day to learn more about the field of engineering, and specifically, Auburn University’s nine engineering programs and resources. E-Day’s aims to attract potential students to Auburn University’s engineering program by showing students the interesting and exciting aspects engineering has.

E-Day is also an opportunity for the different engineering departments to present their current research, projects and show off new laboratory equipment.

The primary goal of E-Day is to educate prospective engineering students on what engineering is and how Auburn’s engineering programs differ from each. Each engineering department will have exhibits and displays that feature current and past projects, showing attendees what the programs can do.

E-Day 2014

“For example, mechanical engineering would show their Baja racing car, or aerospace engineering will show a rocket that was designed by the student,” Brandon Howell, senior materials engineering student and president of the Auburn Materials Society, explained.

These exhibits hope to attract and retain potential students’ interest in engineering, while giving them a better understanding of the options they have in the engineering field. Many of the exhibits and displays are interactive to give students a hands-on experience.

“Since many of [potential students] don’t know what engineering is or what engineers do, it’s rewarding to see students make a connection between subjects they are taking in school, such as math and science, and engineering. For some of them it’s the first time to see something of a hands-on application of math and science,” Bob Karcher, assistant dean of the Engineering Student Services in the Samual Ginn College of Engineering, explained.

“Typically, we have about 3,000 visitors. This includes students, parents, teachers, and other school leadership, such as counselors. The majority of the visitors are students,” Karcher said.

Karcher estimates approximately the same number of attendees this year as well.

Though many people attend E-Day, attendees will all have the opportunity to talk to current engineering students and professors as well as Auburn University representatives connected to housing, admission, scholarship and ROTC. Throughout the day there will be guided tours of the engineering college and labs.

If you or someone you know is interested in attending E-Day, they must register online to attend.

For more information on E-Day, including the schedule, directions and parking, go to

Photos credited to Auburn University Engineer’s Flickr page.


Auburn Graduate Student Active in Saving Endangered Wild Ferrets

Auburn Family website:

Lenora Dombro, a School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences graduate student, has gone where no Auburn student has gone before: to the land of Prairie Dogs. Situated in South Dakota at the Wind Cave National Park, Lenora used this important location for her research, where multitudes of prairie dogs have roamed the expansive grassland. These prairie dogs used to live their lives in a disease-free area almost 100 years ago. But now, these animals are struggling to survive.

That’s where Lenora comes in. A small-mammal-communities researcher, she along with several wildlife biologists, are searching for a way for prairie dogs to thrive at their previous rate. Currently the Black Plague, the sickness that killed millions in Medieval Europe in the 14th century is killing off entire colonies of these furry mammals across the United States. But don’t worry, it’s not a problem among humans anymore. But these prairie dogs are not the only animals suffering because of this rampant outbreak. The endangered black-footed ferret, whose natural prey are prairie dogs, are dying because of it too.

The source of the Black Plague among prairie dogs and wild ferrets is through a small, numerous bug found just about everywhere in the world: the flea.

Fleas are one of the most common pests in the world, capable of infesting just about every animal with fur, and the prairie dogs and ferrets of the United States are no exception. Fleas carrying the Black Plague make their home on these prairie dogs who are eaten by the black-footed ferrets, which is then transmitted to the ferrets through consumption of infected prairie dogs. Ferrets can also directly become infected by the Plague through flea infestation. Plague is transmitted to the ferrets by the fleas as well; the complete extirpation of prairie dogs due to the plague is another main factor.

So, what options are there to save the prairie dogs and the endangered ferrets? A team of researchers have been investigating multiple methods to eradicate and reduce this sickness from these animals. Lenora, who has been in South Dakota for the past two summers, assisted researchers in finding an affordable and effective method of plague-prevention. She used pesticide-insecticide dusting on prairie dog colonies as an attempt to reduce flea populations in the prairie dogs, thus helping to stop the spread of the Plague increasing the survival of these animals.

Other scientists are trying using another method for the black-footed ferret: an injectable vaccine for the Plague.
“There are vaccines that they used with the black-footed ferrets when they are captured in from the wild and released from captivity. Scientists are able to vaccinate them from the Plague, but that’s not really possible with a whole colony of prairie dogs,” Lenora explained.

But for the prairie dogs, the use of insecticide is an easier method for stopping slowing the Plague. Through dusting the prairie dog burrows with flea pesticides, they can slow down the rate at which the disease spreads.

This method can be successful in preventing fleas on prairie dogs, but it is also costly and time-consuming.

“When we dust, we go up to each colony burrow and spray, so it can be pretty tedious,” Lenora said.

When Lenora comes back to Auburn she takes the data collected over the summer and makes sense of what it means. Out in the field, they start out small. Her and the team target mouse populations and study how effective the dusting treatment is on killing fleas on wild mice and whether they have the plague or not.

“If I see a negative change [in mice populations] it would likely be coupled with a reduction of insects that the mice use as prey (fecal samples), reducing mouse reproduction and survival. If there is a positive change the results from the number of fleas on the mice and whether or not they have plague would hopefully account for that change,” Lenora explained.

She hopes to see a positive change that would represent an increase in survival and population.

As a graduate student at Auburn University, Lenora represents the numerous students that are making leaps in the different studies available across the disciplines available at Auburn.

The School of Forestry and Wildlife has made great progress in its research fields. Graduate and undergrad students are working to improve the natural world in which we live through research in forestry, ecology, wildlife and conservation. Paired with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Auburn’s Forestry and Wildlife program gives students a chance to make a real impact in the community and environment and implement their research in significant ways to give back to the state. With world-class scientists instructing students, they are preparing the future to live a more sustainable life, not just in Alabama, but wherever their studies may take them.

Images courtesy of Lenora Dombro

Whitney Jones’ blog

Auburn University Gives Students a Chance to Give Back to Communities
By: Whitney Jones

Auburn University’s College of Liberal Arts is giving students a chance to give back to Alabama communities in a way that has a lasting impact. Through the Living Democracy program, students of all majors have the chance to interact with and play integral roles in Alabama towns that have a population of under 9,000.

Living Democracy began in the summer of 2011 when the first group of students went to live in four towns: Collinsville, Elba, Linden andSelma. For 10 weeks these students lived and immersed themselves in the towns’ cultures, communities and activities. Each town gave the student a place to live for the entirety of their stay as they still do for current students now.
First funded by The Kettering Foundation, the idea for Living Democracy was, as Nan Fairley, associate professor of journalism at Auburn University, and co-coordinator of Living Democracy, said “to find out what happens when you initially take students beyond service into a deeper immersion experience.”

Apart from community outreach, The Kettering Foundation focused the program on politics: “what you can learn about democracy while living in a community,” Fairley explains.

But the purpose and outcome of the program is much more than that. Its mission is to enable students to be active in community life and enrich their own lives by giving back and making personal connections with citizens. During their 10-week stay students are assigned projects and specific tasks that match student interests and community problems, as well as write weekly refection reports that often turn into publishable material, many of which have been published on

“It’s more than identifying the problem, but addressing the problem and finding solutions,” Fairley said, describing the purpose of civic journalism.
For one student living in Linden during the summer of 2012, Blake Evans, who is currently earning his Master’s in Public Administration, his main task was to create an economic development DVD for the town and help set up a photography contest with Linden’s youth.

“At the end of my time in Linden, the town threw me a celebration and gave me a key to the city and asked me to come back and be the Grand Marshall for their Christmas Parade,” Evans told a group of prospects for next summer.

While the students work on their projects they learn about the importance of democracy, its impact on society, and discover things about themselves along the way. The stories the students come back with range from profiles on different community members to the adventures they have had while living there.
While living in these towns, students interact with people they typically wouldn’t in a normal setting and also gain a new perspective on life in a small town. From the projects they do to the articles and reflection papers they write, each student gains valuable experience in civic involvement and journalistic writing.
“There is so much more learning in the real-world than inside the classroom,” Fairley emphasized, “We really don’t understand anything until we get out there.”
But before the students embark on this project, they are enrolled in a journalism and research program that teaches them the basics of research, interviewing, and journalistic writing. Through this class they can successfully research and write about the issues and stories they have taken away from these rural communities.

The coordinators, Nan Fairley and Mark Wilson, meet with the towns’ community partners and the students to design an impactful project and thoroughly understand what needs to be addressed in each community. Extensive planning goes into the Living Democracy program so students can get the most out of this experience.
“After three years of this program, we are learning how the students truly discover a lot about themselves during those ten weeks as well as have an impact on the communities where they live in a lot of positive ways,” Fairley said.