A Wide Variety of Research Presented by Students During SCHOLAR Day

April 25, 2016

Mount Union SCHOLAR Day 2016ALLIANCE, Ohio – Students from a kaleidoscope of different majors came together to present their unique research during the annual SCHOLAR Day event.

“Over the Hill and Still Climbing” Aging Workforce Presentation at SCHOLAR Day

Michelle Banis, a senior at the University of Mount Union, presented her research on the aging workforce in the United States and the steps that can be taken to support these workers into retirement at the ninth annual SCHOLAR Day.

Banis, a human resource management and marketing double major of Richfield, Ohio, analyzed the makeup of the current U.S. workforce and pointed out that this is the first time in America’s history that we have five different generations working amongst one another. 

However, the “Baby Boomer” generation, which are people born from 1945–1964, currently makes up more than 40 percent of the U.S. working population. With many of these employees looking to retire, Banis stressed that the next 10-15 years will see many changes to the workforce.

Banis identified some of the most drastic changes from a human resource perspective as being: Brain drain (losing employees’ knowledge and experience in the field), rising costs of benefits, changes in retirement and differentiated values.

She informed the audience that 72 percent of Americans are now working during their retirement – meaning companies are being forced to adapt their policies and positions to fit the Baby Boomers’ needs.

Banis concluded with several solutions to help retain this population of versed workers including workplace flexibility, phased retirement, fringe benefits, objective measure and succession planning.

Students Find Alternative Bridge Structural Methods as Presented on SCHOLAR Day

University of Mount Union civil engineering students, Hannah Suder, Taylor Cline, Derek Sullivan, and David Clunk shared their project on the replacement of the State Route 154 bridge, as part of the ninth annual SCHOLAR Day.

The project involved designing two structural alternatives for an existing bridge in Columbiana County in order to determine an optimal design. Each member of the group took on a different portion of the project specializing in the environmental, geotechnical, hydraulic, or structural part of the project. 

After each member researched their portion, they collected additional data, including endangered species they may have to consider, and methods of redirecting traffic to accommodate daily commuters.

The team selected an optimal design to be an adjacent prestressed concrete box beam structure. They followed the Ohio Department of Transportation standard drawings and procedures for this design.

When asked what some of the most valuable lessons or skills they learned were, multiple group members replied that learning how to use industry leading software to complete analyses and making professional engineering drawings proved valuable. In addition, these hands-on skills are directly applicable to their future careers in the field.

“Diabetic Alert Dogs” Highlighted at SCHOLAR Day Presentation

University of Mount Union physician assistant student, Nicole Quiles shared her research on “Diabetic Alert Dogs: Using Their Noses to Detect Dangerous Blood Glucose Levels”, as a part of the ninth annual SCHOLAR Day.

Although a dog may be “man’s best friend”, and make a wonderful pet, Quiles studied their potential to also save lives. The use of animal-assisted therapy is growing in various fields of medicine, including in endocrinology for patients with diabetes.

The therapy works through the dog’s sense of smell. Quiles stated that dogs have a 1,000-10,000 times better sense of smell than humans. This is what allows them to sense the high or low glucose levels in their patient/owners. Diabetic Alert Dogs (DADs) are trained to sense these low blood sugar levels and alert the owner through a number of ways such as licking their hand, rolling over, or barking, depending on the trainer.

The approach Quiles took to test the reliability of these dogs was a systematic review of literature. Through her research she found that diabetes patients with DADs have a reduction of unconscious episodes, and calls to the paramedics. Not only did the dogs have preventative results, but also therapeutic effects on patients as well. Studies showed that patients with DADs had enhanced quality of life and a greater feeling of independence as opposed to those patients without DADs.

Quiles concluded her presentation by stating that almost all owners of DADs trust in their dogs to detect dangerous glucose levels and to alert them.

“Fitbit Heart Monitoring Accuracy” Presented at SCHOLAR Day

Seniors from the Department of Exercise Science, Alison Feucht and Emily Stefan, shared their research on “The Accuracy of a Fitbit in Monitoring Heart Rate” at this year’s SCHOLAR Day.

Feucht, of Maineville, Ohio, and Stefan, of Canton, Ohio, examined the accuracy of telemetric devices, in this case, the Fitbit Charge HRTM, across different skin types compared to an electrocardiogram (EKG) and a chest-strap heart rate monitor (Ekho WM-25TM).

For their experiment, 25 participants were measured during rest, walking, jogging, running and recovery across all three devices, as well as classified into skin types using the Fitzpatrick Skin Typing Scale.

After testing, Feucht and Stefan concluded that the Fitbit Charge HRTM was very accurate in monitoring and recording heart rate across all skin types during all types of movement. When compared to the EKG readings, which were used as the baseline, the Fitbit numbers differed only by 0.03 bpm, at most.

However, the chest strap heart rate monitor was off significantly during the activities involving walking, jogging and running; only accurately recording the resting heart rates.

Feucht and Stefan concluded their presentation with a few tips to get the most accurate reading from your Fitbit, including: Wearing it on the non-dominant wrist, fitting it snugly to the wrist to avoid artificial light tampering the reading and cleaning the sensors regularly.

Athletic Participation Found to Help Student GPA and Behavior in SCHOLAR Day Study

A study conducted by Masters of Arts in Educational Leadership (MAEL) student Greg Howard determined that participation in athletics led to an increase in grade-point average (GPA) and overall behavior among high school students.

The study, which was conducted at Sandy Valley High School in Magnolia, Ohio, was presented as a part of SCHOLAR Day on Mount Union’s campus.

Howard had 64 students participate in the survey, which meant 16 from each high school grade level were included. All of those students participated in a sport in either the fall or winter seasons and the study was conducted during the first two nine weeks of the school year.

Randomly selecting students from different sports, Howard’s results showed that overall GPA increased by 0.1 among the participants.

He also concluded that eligibility was a major factor in the results, as students are inclined to work harder the quarter before their respective seasons or else they may not have the grades to participate. This also remained true for students who were in season who had to have the discipline to maintain the grade benchmark for eligibility.

He also shared that a study conducted in Los Angeles, California found similar results when it came to behavior of students at the same grade level. Schools in the city that had fewer sport options were found to have a higher crime rate than those that offered more sports for its students.

Howard hopes to one day extend the study farther beyond one high school and attempt to see the results of the state of Ohio.

“Pinball Wizards” a Presentation Focal Point at SCHOLAR Day

University of Mount Union sophomore Kristin Werstler shared her unique connection to the game of pinball and how it may help contribute to rebuilding attention spans as a part of the ninth annual SCHOLAR Day.

Werstler, an English and writing double major of Louisville, Ohio, grew up around the classic game, as her father was a mechanic who repaired pinball and other numerous other skill games and machines throughout her youth.

Her project was different from the typical essay or experiment, as she chose to do a podcast featuring interviews and audio essays with her connections to the absorbing world of pinball wizardry.

Werstler was able to relate the instant gratification of success in pinball to that same feeling in today’s technology. That led to the correlation of people today having shorter attention spans with the constant reliance on cell phones and social media.

She shared a study conducted by Microsoft in 2015 that stated that attention spans have dropped to be shorter than that of the average goldfish, meaning the average person loses his or her attention after eight seconds.

With the “golden age” of pinball being said to be 1948-58, Werstler said that the popularity of pinball among baby boomers might be why it has phased out with millennial youth today. She hopes building a foundation of interaction, like the days of arcade popularity, will help grow attention spans back up from that small number.

Werstler concluded her presentation but saying, “Pinball still creates the brightest lights in an age of the illuminated smartphones.”

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