SIUE engineers partnership with India

News-DemocratNovember 13, 2013 

Representatives from the SIUE School of Engineering recently returned from Hyderabad, India, where they worked to strengthen relationships between American and Indian schools.

Dennis Bouvier, associate professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science, and Gary Mayer, assistant professor of computer science, were hosted by Guru Nanak Institutions.

They spent a week visiting with GNI, representatives from the Chaitanya Bharathi Institute of Technology and the Teegala Krishna Reddy Educational Society.

"Our trip helped us to recognize the similarities between our two educational systems and the differences," Mayer said. "From that, we can work toward developing a partnership that enables student success and benefits all universities."

Bouvier and Mayer spoke with administrators, faculty and students about establishing programs that would enable Indian students with opportunities to attend SIUE. Such an initiative also would provide the School of Engineering with the ability to strengthen its international presence in its master's programs. Many of the discussions centered on computer science programs, but there is the potential for programs in electrical and computer engineering as well.

"The visit of the two professors is a gesture to our Indian partners that we value their collaboration," Hasan Sevim, dean of the School of Engineering, said.

The idea for the visit to India came when Ron Schaefer, director of International Programs, visited the schools during a conference in Hyderabad.

Harvinder Saini, Managing Director of GNI, brought five students to the SIUE campus last May to meet with faculty from SIUE's Schools of Engineering and Business.

Southwestern Illinois College is helping returning military veterans transition to a career in the private sector.

U.S. Army veteran Paige Bulcher started classes at SWIC after serving five years in the military where she earned the rank of private second-class. When she arrived home, Bulcher, 26 of Roxanna, decided to pursue a career as a medical assistant.

"I like it," Bulcher said of the program. "It's a good learning experience. It's a lot of hands-on work. There is a lot of material in a short period of time but it will enable me to go straight into the workforce."

The Medical Assistant program consists of a 10-month and a two-year AAS degree with courses offered at the SWIC Belleville or the Sam Wolf Granite City campuses.

Because of the college's proximity to Scott Air Force Base, SWIC has the advantage of being well versed in helping military veterans, according to one of Bulcher's instructors, medical assistant associate professor Howard Gunning. Additionally, Gunning said, SWIC has a Veteran's Services office on-campus to help assist returning servicemen and servicewomen.

"I'm a veteran myself," Gunning said. "I spent 21 years in the Air Force. I relate well to the veteran students when they come in. I understand the skill sets they bring."

Gunning helped Bulcher get an Illinois Veterans Grant, which will pay for four years of education at a state college or university for veterans who finished high school in Illinois. This money can be used alongside the funds granted by the G.I. Bill, known officially as the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944.

"Paige was a very diligent student," Gunning said. "Making an adjustment back in a civilian environment can be difficult. But she was very determined. She said, as a lot of military folks often do, 'I'm going to finish this mission.'"

Gunning recommended the Medical Assistant program and medical fields in general for military men and women. He said military skills translate well to health care jobs.

"A lot of the veterans went into the service because they really wanted to serve," Gunning said. "They wanted to serve their country and pay their debt. The medical field is one of the fields they wanted to get into. The medical field allows an avenue for that."

Bulcher was hired by an urologist office in Bridgeton, Mo., and is enjoying the start of her new career, she said. She in the process of enrolling at Southern Illinois University Carbondale to pursue her bachelor's of science degree after graduating from SWIC.

For more information on the SWIC Medical Assistant program, call 618-235-2700, ext. 5263 or visit; for SWIC Veteran's Services, call 618-235-2700, ext. 5274.

A chili cook-off sponsored by McKendree University's Emerging Leaders student group raised $625 for the Wounded Warriors Project during Military Appreciation Week on campus.

Students, faculty and staff members sampled nearly 30 different entries and voted for their favorites during lunch Tuesday. The McKendree cheerleaders took first prize, with second place going to the Leadership and Study Abroad entry and third place to Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority.

Military Appreciation Week" activities continue throughout the week.

* Thursday: Alpha Phi Omega will host a Red Cross blood drive in the gym from 1-6 p.m. To schedule an appointment, visit the website and enter "McKendree" as the sponsor code. A workshop on veterans' education benefits will be held at 6 p.m. in Bothwell Chapel on campus.

* Friday: A tribute to military spouses will be held at the women's volleyball game against the University of Wisconsin-Parkside at 7 p.m.

* Saturday: Pre-game tailgating from 2-5 p.m. will include representatives from the Veterans Administration Mobile Center, the USO-Missouri mobile unit, The Mission Continues, VFW Post #805 and American Legion Post #0283, as well as face painting and holiday card-making for the troops. All veterans, active-duty military and Gold Star families will be honored before the football Bearcats kick off against Kentucky Wesleyan College at 6 p.m.

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