Author: Tina Wadhwa
Sharon Pitt serves as Vice President for Information Technologies and Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the University of Delaware. As UD’s CIO, she advances the University’s educational, research, and economic missions by delivering innovative, efficient, and integrated information technology services to students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and other constituencies.
At Virginia Tech, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a Master’s degree in Architecture. Before joining the University of Delaware as CIO, Pitt served as Associate Vice President for Information Technology and CIO at Binghamton University.
When asked about how her interests moved through economics and architecture to technology, Pitt said, “I always wanted to follow my passion, and do things I really enjoyed.”
As an undergraduate student, she started as a math major, then switched to communications but, finally, decided on economics, a love of hers. In her last semester as an undergraduate, she took a history class in which she completed a project on the bridges of Washington Roebling, the man who oversaw construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. “Learning about the aspects of the structure and forces utilized in building these bridges, fascinated me. I got really interested in architecture as a result,” Pitt said.
“Towards the end of my architectural studies at Virginia Tech, it became evident that technology was something really important. In architecture, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software and computational tools to understand forces and loads on different parts of a structure have helped architects, civil engineers, and builders make important design and construction decisions. Learning about and using those technologies inspired me to start working in the Educational Technologies Division at Virginia Tech.”
“No wonder. My dad was a telecommunications engineer, and maybe I should have been in technology all along,” she added.
Pitt is known for finding innovative ways that universities can collaborate on technology initiatives.
Before joining Binghamton University, she served as the executive director of George Mason University’s Division of Instructional Technology. In 2009, Pitt and her staff received the Virginia Governor’s Technology Award for Innovative Use of Technology in Higher Education for the implementation of a Virtual Computing Lab (VCL). At the time, she said that “What we’ve done is create a new computing environment. Anyone can access software such as Adobe Creative Suite, AutoCAD, Mathematica or GIS from their home, residence hall or local coffee shop any time of the day or night. The idea is that it will no longer be necessary to come to campus during lab hours to use these applications.” (George Mason University press release, Nov. 2, 2009.)
Under Pitt’s guidance, several Virginia universities collaborated to use code developed at North Carolina State University, to implement the VCL, hosted at Mason. “The inspiration behind the VCL was to find a way that we could put expensive software in the hands of our universities’ students,” she said.
Students and faculty at the different schools could now register to use a variety of applications over a common web interface. Licensing fees were reduced because the cost was shared by the participating universities.
Ms. Pitt is enthusiastic about using modern communication tools to improve UD IT’s transparency, both within IT and across the campus.
“She was the only finalist for the job of UD CIO who followed the @ITatUD twitter feed [UD IT’s twitter feed]! During a recent meeting with IT staff from different UD colleges and departments, she even live-tweeted the content,” said Richard Gordon, the manager of IT Communication Group at UD.
“Sharon is working hard to improve communication within the IT department by making sure that all 160+ central IT staff members have access to minutes from senior staff meetings. And she has established her primary office in Smith Hall, which makes her more accessible to a larger share of the campus, enabling her to get a feel for the University community very quickly”, Gordon continued.
Pitt’s advice for students is that they should always follow their hearts. “If you are not passionate about what you are doing, what’s the point? Have an excellent work-life balance and don’t drain yourself by work,” she said.
She has discovered that studying and working in different disciplines has helped her career, leading her to say that no one should ever hesitate to add new certifications or degrees whenever one feels like it and that one should not consider aging a barrier to achievement. “My mother went back to get a college degree in her 30s,” she said. “Completing new certifications and coursework in areas you are interested in can change your career path for the better.”
- What is your favorite book? Why?
‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac. Kerouac carried small notebooks while on road adventures in the late 1940s-early 1950s with Neal Cassady a counterculture hero. These become the basis of On the Road, which showed its characters searching for goodness and fun in everyday life and journeys. – Life lesson: carry a notebook and write things down when you travel
- As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys or a gym teacher.
- If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Austria and Germany – I need to practice my second language more.
- Who is one of your personal heroes?
A tie between Leonardo da Vinci and my father. Da Vinci for his use of his talents and my dad for his unwavering encouragement and confidence in me.
- What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
My ice cream choice is always the most exotic flavor on offer – e.g., blueberry pecan pumpkin. So my favorite ice cream flavor has yet to be invented.
Author: James Massaquoi
As an undergraduate student at UD, Amira Idris worked at Independence Prosthetics-Orthotics Inc. in Delaware with the strong ambition to learn more about the complications of prosthetic space and how she could live her lifelong dream to develop artificial limbs and replacement organs for those in need. It was at the clinic where Idris first learned of the phenomenon known as phantom limb pain. She met a patient unable to manage through traditional means the pain he felt in his missing limb. The patient’s mental state had deteriorated over time and was affecting the person’s ability to function from day to day. Phantom limb pain or PLP is define by the Amputee Coalition as ongoing painful sensations that seem to emanate from that part of the limb, which is no longer there. Unfortunately, there are over 2.1 million people in the United States living with limb loss, and 80% of the amputee population suffer from PLP. PLP is as individual as the person affected and often unpredictable. Sleeping or relaxing may also be difficult and traditional medications may or may not be effective. The sensation can last for a few seconds or up to few days making the condition very difficult to manage and live a normal life.
The ongoing negative effects of PLP had a profound impact on Idris when she heard that there was no solution specifically designed to address this issue. As a graduate student, she decided to do something about it. Idris is now a University of Delaware Alumni, with an Honors Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship and Design, class of 2016, with her Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering, class of 2015. At just 24, Idris has invented a therapeutic wearable device that helps alleviate the pain felt by amputees who struggle with PLP.
In 2016, Amira Idris founded TheraV, formerly known as Vibrating Therapeutic Apparel LLC, the only amputee oriented, US based, wearable therapeutic apparel company. After two years of development and testing Amira is now ready to bring her first product to market. Her device, called the ELIX, is a 100% drug-free pain management device that uses vibrating technology to reduce the pain felt by amputees suffering from PLP, and other similar nerve conditions. The advantages of ELIX is that it has no negative side effects, does not require a prescription, is customizable to each user, and it is very affordable. The average PLP sufferer spends up to $8,000 per year to treat their condition. The retail price for the ELIX device at $200.00 on average is a godsend. It is no surprise that over 225 people with positive results have already adopted ELIX.
Right now, Idris is on a mission to help our veterans living with post amputation pain. She is attempting to raise $22,000 to build 100 ELIX devices to be given at no cost to Veterans in the community. Military service men and women make up a significant number of PLP suffers and Iris wants to give back to these great men and women who placed their lives on the line for our freedom and sacrificed a limb in the process.
“Veterans are such a big part of our community, we want to get the devices to them,” Idris said. “We have a device that can help, so it is natural we want to immediately see our device start helping the people who need it.”
Currently Idris and the TheraV team have raised only $4,435 towards their $22,000 goal. If you would like to add your support to this great cause, you can donate through this link: http://bit.ly/2lVVEhD.
There are so many issues to contend with in this day and age, but so few of us attempt to solve them. Amira Idris is a wonderful example of our Blue Hen Alumni & World Changer who continues to Dare to be First.
Excitement filled the air on September 8th as new international students event “UDash”-literarily jogged across campus to learn about University of Delaware resources that are readily available to help and guide students in their academic and personal ventures.
A special thanks goes out to the Lerner International Student Association (L.I.S.A), who organized the event, as well as the Office of Graduate & Professional Education, Division of Student Life and Institute for Global Studies, each of whom generously co-sponsored the event in cooperation with the Office of International Students and Scholars. The first fifteen teams who finished the 3 hour challenge took home prizes worth $1500!
Please find UDash 2017’s winning teams and the UDash online album here: https://goo.gl/rhYQRu
Special thanks go out to the Lerner International Student Association (L.I.S.A) Faculty Advisor Professor, Jinwei Cao, L.I.S.A student leaders, OISS student leaders and all our enthusiastic Volunteers. Because of the amazing efforts by each and every person involved, the U-DASH-ed event was a bigger success than any of us could have imaged.
The event itself was organized and manned by volunteers spread across critical “pit stops” on campus where new fall admits who participated in the race would stop and learn helpful information about the offices and places along the route. Many student support and academic offices participated by providing information take-away information pamphlets, marketing brochures and provided questions we could pose to the participants that would pique the new students curiosity about what the various university offices did for business students like them. This process provided a revolutionary and engaging way to market the amazing resources we have available to us on campus.
Twenty-one University Offices came together to make UDash Campus Challenge 2017 an awesome success!
“I believe this is just the beginning of a new annual tradition at UD in highlighting its efforts to welcome new students in a novel way while promoting the critical role each office/resource on campus plays in the students’ life here at UD” .Allan Paulose.
Allan Paulose, also the President of L.I.S.A, remarked that he was grateful for the opportunity to bring this idea to life.
Next year, the Lerner International Students Association hopes to open the challenge to all new students admitted for the Fall 2018 term with the support of additional UD offices also engaged in augmenting student life at US. The expectation is that with opportunities for more sponsors to participate, the challenge will be able to expand the “DASH” and include the Laird Campus, the Delaware Technology Park, and a number of extended locations at the Central, East and South Campuses at UD.
We had a classy Club Launch Celebrations/Inaugural Banner Ceremony for the Blue Hen Toastmasters Club at the University of Delaware; attended by Newark County Executive Mathew S. Meyer, Dean of Alfred Lerner College at UD Bruce Weber, Associate Dean Jack Baroudi, TI District 18 Director and UD Alumnus Tony Whitten, TI District 18 Club Growth Director and UD Alumnus Cristol Johnson, TI District 18 PR Manager Pearl Matibe, TI District 18, Area 12 Director Ben Christ and Presided over by TOD DTM Bob Privon. We’d like to thank the several guests and evaluators from neighboring clubs who showed massive support in launching our fast growing club.
A special note of thanks to TI District 18 PR Manager DTM Pearl Matibe who worked ceaselessly along with the club leadership team to help get proclamations for the Blue Hen Toastmasters Club from the Newark Mayor’s office and the Newark County office and also helped the Blue Hen Toastmasters leadership in organizing the entire event.
Xin Zhao, Seargent at Arms for the Blue Hen Toastmasters Club at UD called the meeting to order and performed a brief yet enlightening invocation.
Alex M. Brooks, President of the Blue Hen Toastmasters Club lead the way with an inspiring talk while also reminiscing the first moments that lead to the formation of the Blue Hen TM Club at UD.
Area Director, CC ALB Ben Christ Inducted the Blue Hen Toastmasters leadership team with the Toastmasters Gavel.
Speaker #1, County Executive Mathew S Meyer drew from his experiences on the campaign trail and stressed on the importance of communication, leadership and engaging the audience in everyday lives.
Speaker #2, Dean Weber captured the audience with his talk about how content is not always king and “how much you care about the audience you speak to, matters over what you have to say to them”.
Speaker #3, DTM Pearl Matibe who showed us by example the Communicating on Video section from the Toastmasters Manual. She was joined by enthusiastic guests Jay Green and Johnny Rutkowski.
Our General Evaluator Johnny Rutkowski lead the evaluation team with evaluators, Vince Shettini, Reese Eskridge and Ruth Langhrer, Timer Daniel T. McCaffery and Grammarian Elizabeth Allen. They gave a detailed and lively evaluation of the entire ceremony.
Special mention for Elizabeth Allen for arranging a delightful platter of desserts and for the Blue Hen Leadership team, including Alex Brooks, Moses Senesie, De’Jon Johnson, Allan Paulose, Johnny Rutkowski, Elizabeth Allen, and Xin Zhao, along with club sponsors Daniel T. McCaffery and Adam Bell, Club Mentors Ben Christ, Jay Green and Neil Mallapaly, Gladys and Bob Privon for coming together in making this event a grand success!
Author: Jemarc Axinto
I believe that one of the most defining qualities any one person may have is pride. Pride can be useful as in Pride in yourself, pride in your work, and – even more so – pride in where you call home. For the residents of Wilmington, Delaware, this sustaining pride is often tested as a variety of news sources have called our home, “Murdertown”, USA” (Abigail Jones, Newsweek 2014) and in turn, look down upon whatever the city has to offer.
The City of Wilmington comprises two completely polarized ends of the economic spectrum. On one end are businesses representing 65% of the US’s Fortune 500 companies, on the other, are an endless series of vacant lots and homes, homelessness, and little opportunity to break through the economic glass ceiling. Despite the money coming into the city from these large corporations, there are still wide ranges of vacant homes being left to rot and actual residents of the city are without means or at least lacking in comparable economic benefits granted to big businesses. However, not all hope is lost. Thanks to three budding entrepreneurs, CEO Joel Amin Jr, COO Bryce Fender, and CFO Demetrius Thorn, significant efforts have been put forth to invest in the city of Wilmington, and in turn, invest in the city’s people.
Amin, Fender, and Thorn have united to form WilmInvest, a company they have described as a, “Social impact, real estate investment company.” WilmInvest is start-up company formed for the sole purpose of taking vacant, forgotten homes in Wilmington, renovating them, and renting them out at affordable and attainable prices for Wilmington residents. They accomplish this miracle in three stages. They first buy the homes, renovate them, and eventually rent them out. To succeed they have been willing to engage with government officials and assert that what they are doing is important, and needed for the betterment of Wilmington and its community.
Each entrepreneur bring their own unique backgrounds and skills to the table. Amin went to a four-year trade school and spent his days growing up working with this father who still runs a family plumbing and contracting business, Joel Amin Plumbing LLC. Fender. Amin is a former Eagle Scout and retains a belief in active and continual learning by attending the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership seminar. From the Leadership conference, he united with WilmInvest’s current CFO, Demetrius Thorn to start the Red Clay Interscholastic Student Government, a sanctioned student group uniting seven different school bodies that regularly combine to plan and host a variety of talent shows and school events. In the past, I learned that Thorn has impressive financing experience working with companies worth billions. One of the WilmInvest most defining strengths is the diversity within their core team. According to Amin, “The only way that it [WilmInvest] would even be possible is because we’re all so different [and] have these unique backgrounds.” Nonetheless, having diverse backgrounds means little if you are not willing to take action; something that the three entrepreneurs were not shy to share.
“We weren’t just waiting to send emails, we just barged into the doors of these government officials and said ‘hey, I’m a young person, I want to revitalize and address…one of the biggest issues in Delaware right now’” – Amin.
The trio were fortunately able to sit down with people with sympathetic ears like a board director of the Wilmington Land Bank who also happens to be the CEO of Habitat for Humanity. They have found success by engaging with people sitting at the top of the economic spectrum, such as billion dollar organizations like DuPont Company, and Sallie Mae (SLM Corp) to name two, and community at-risk organizations working with people dealing with tough issues like recovery from substance abuse. By working with both ends of the spectrum, they are not only able to engage with the people who have the funding to support their cause, but the people who will ultimately benefit most from their goals.
Author: Jill Pante
As a career counselor, I saw a clear lesson from the Great Recession 10 years ago: We need to prepare our students and alumni to be “change-ready” for anything that comes along. Whether you are changing or looking for a new job, advancing your career, or simply want to grow professionally, LinkedIn, can effortlessly merge all of the above while allowing you to build your personal brand. Whether you’re a pro or beginner, here are some tips on making the most of your time there:
- Post a professional photo. A nice picture of just you, professionally dressed, looking at the camera and smiling.
- Personalize your URL. Make sure you personalize the LinkedIn URL with your name—linkedin.com/in/yourname.
- Write a good summary. This is your 30-second commercial. What are your skills? Your achievements? Where do you want to go? This doesn’t have to be career-related. Maybe you’re just looking to connect with people.
- Experience, Education, Leadership. For the most part, this is a simple copy-and-paste from your resume. Make sure the bullet descriptions are results-oriented and data-driven.
- Interests. Be active when following groups, companies, schools and influencers. Join the conversation or pose a question of your own.
- Follow the University of Delaware School page. There are more than 110,000 UD alumni on LinkedIn. When you’re on the UD page, click on the Career Insights button, where you can drill down to see where alumni live and work.
- Don’t hesitate—reach out! I’ve never met a Blue Hen who doesn’t want to help another Blue Hen. Reach out to people by connecting to them and personalize that message so they know why you’re reaching out.
Professional networking in the digital age is far more accessible than it’s ever been. There’s no better time to start than now.
Jill Gugino Pante is the director of the Lerner Career Services Center. Connect to her on LinkedIn.