USF’s Solar Energy Fair

On Saturday Mar. 26, the Solar Energy Society at USF held their annual Solar Energy Fair. It is an event created to help teach the Tampa community about the latest innovations and technologies offered around the city. At this year’s event, there were Question and Answer panels with University professors and specialists; however, the true heart of the event lies with the students who make it all possible.

This year, two USF graduates presented their research to the public in order to share their new ideas. “I have always been a solar enthusiast,” said Arun Kumar. “I hope that these technologies and my research can be used in Third World countries to help other people.”

New breakthroughs are also coming from female students, such as Francesca Moloney who said: “From an early age I knew I wanted to focus my career on something in the environment.”

Both of these students hope to take their research and implement them at the university and across the Tampa Bay area. If their research and innovations succeed, they hope to apply them around the world. They aspire to build awareness in the community about the research being conducted, so that people can make wiser choices in their everyday lives.

African Infused With Caribbean Dance Shakes Up Wesley Chapel

The founder and CEO of Tampa Bay AfroFit, is aiming to spread the influence of African culture into the Tampa Bay community by infusing it with dance and cardio.

Natacha Zamor was raised by Haitian parents in Montreal.

Zamor grew up learning Haitian folk dances with her grandmother.

“When we would dance, we would sweat, we really did sweat and I remember always thinking this is such a great workout,” Zamor said.

Before starting Afrofit in 2015, Zamor—who was been a registered nurse— saw the need for an exercise program like this in the community. She noticed many programs, such as Zumba, and thought that there  was something missing for the people of African decent.

“It’s not just exercise, we dance, we laugh, and also she (Zamor) educates people,” Roberte Francios, an AfroFit participant, said.

Since starting AfroFit, Zamor has made it her mission to educate those around her about what they are really doing during their time with her.

“Our mission, our culture, doesn’t just rest on that, it rests on the younger generations, older generations, re-appropriating what has been lost,” Zamor said. Afrofit is located in Wesley Chapel Florida.

To learn more about AfroFit group classes, events and workshops please visit their website Tampabayafrofit.com or email them at Tampabayafrofit@gmail.com.

 

A Factory’s Support For The Children

A Factory’s support for the Children

Pam and Tom Cronin, owners of the Shell Factory, spent years renovating and redesigning the park with families in mind- especially the kids. Field trips to the park are welcomed, and the Cronin’s are willing to help teachers overcome any obstacles to make the trips possible for the students.  

“When Lee county stopped supplying school buses for the kids for field trips, Tom and Pam Cronin decided they would do it. So we pay for all the kids to come here,” Anne Sheridan, the Shell Factory general manager, said.

During these sponsored field trips, students get to experience nature up close in the Nature Park. According to the website, the Nature Park includes over 400 wild animals; aviaries filled with different types of birds, tortoises, turtles and iguanas; an Eco Lab for exotic snakes and more. Gator biscuits are also available for visitors to toss out to the alligators that live within the park.

Our Nature Park Environmental Education Foundation has raised capital sufficient to fund field trips for over four thousand school children who otherwise would have been unable to visit the attraction,” The Cronins said on their website.

The park, however, is still growing and changing every year.

“As a work in progress the Nature Park is always expanding, improving, and acquiring new inhabitants,” according to the Shell Factory’s website.

Pam and Tom also host special events outside of school functions on the property. Weddings and corporate meetings can utilized one of two special rooms in the park- the Dolphin room and the Party Room- as well as birthday parties or other celebrations.

The factory was voted best shell store by North Fort Myers in both 2014 and 2015. Years in the making, the Shell Factory has become one of the best places in South Florida for locals and tourists alike.

shell

Photo courtesy of flickr.com

USF’s annual career fair looks to bring career opportunities for students

Nearly 3,000 USF students flocked to the Marshall Student Center Ballroom last week for the annual USF Career Fair.

Students from all different majors were able to speak with hundreds of employers across the four different fairs held throughout the week. They were able to discuss future internship and employment opportunities in their chosen career fields.

“I’m excited about Career Fair because it’s a great opportunity to make connections and kind of get my foot in the door at the start of my career,” USF accounting major, Mitchel Geron, said.

The fair has been held twice a year, one in each fall and spring semester, for over 20 years on USF campus. This fair has given many students the platforms they need to learn the opportunities they have with the degree they will earn.

“Many of these interactions will lead to full-time job interviews, internship interviews, and summer employment opportunities,” Assistant Vice President of USF Career Services, Russ Coughenour, said.

USF Career Services will return with another career fair in the fall of 2016 with more employers and opportunities for students to network with major organizations.

Coughenour finished by stating, “These fairs get USF students the valuable out of classroom experience that they so desperately need so each year Career Services is very proud to bring Career Week to USF students.”

Energy fund looks to use oil waste as fuel

In 2011, the University of South Florida Tampa campus launched the Student Green Energy Fund (SGEF) in order to help make the campus more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

In its few years at USF, the SGEF has already set up various projects throughout the university such as electric vehicle stations and a campus bike-share project. This year, SGEF plans on creating a bio-diesel fuel in order to replace fossil fuel as an energy source for vehicles on campus.

“It would be used for the Bull Runner buses that travel around the campus,” SGEF Chair, Harold Bower, said. “The goal of the bio-diesel project is to take waste oil from cooking function on campus and process it so it can be burned in the bull runner vehicles as fuel.”

The SGEF plans for the bio-diesel to be made from oil waste collected from campus eating facilities in order to be reused.

“The bio-diesel project I think, in my opinion, one of the best projects you can think of, because we are really being able to mitigate the carbon footprint that we create as a school,” SGEF Inspector, John Pilz, said. “We are able to utilize wastes that would just be going to the trash can.”

The bio-diesel project was awarded $100,000 in funding and is currently in the final stages of its research before implementing the new fuel. If the research shows great results, then students and faculty can expect to be riding bio-diesel buses as early as next fall.

 

Author James Morrow gives lecture at USF

On Monday, March 21, 2016 renowned science fiction author, James Morrow, will be visiting USF to discuss his new novel, “Galapagos Regained”.

Morrow will be giving a lecture on the fourth floor of USF’s library at 6:00 p.m. where he will discuss issues of science, religion, and pop culture. Joining Morrow will be fellow science fiction author and USF professor, Rick Wilbur.

“I’ve been in the science fiction community for a long time,” said Wilbur. “Getting Morrow to do this lecture was as easy as some scheduling and making phone calls to a comrade.”

After a small amount of aligning schedules between Wilbur, the university, and Morrow, the author is set to discuss his latest novel as a part of USF’s humanities institute’s lecture series.

“I urge all students who can make it to attend Morrow’s lecture,” said Wilbur. “He’s an incredible author and this is a great opportunity to discuss contemporary issues with a knowledgeable professional.”

Morrow, a self-proclaimed scientific humanist, is an author famous for his unconventional historical novels, which often examine the intertwining concepts of religion and science. His latest novel, “Galapagos Regained” plot centers on a Victorian adventurer who decides to repeat the voyages of Charles Darwin.

Anyone, whether a student, faculty or community member, will be able to attend both Morrow’s lecture and the event’s reception and book signing free of cost.

USF alumni eats like a caveman

 A young entrepreneur has taken her passion for eating healthy and combined it with her passion for cookies to create her own company Base Culture. This company is not like any other sweets retailer that sales brownies and banana bread; all of the products are paleo friendly, meaning they follow the popular Paleo Diet.

“The Paleo Diet is nicknamed the caveman diet for a reason” says Base Culture founder Jordann Windschauer, “If you were to follow the Paleo Diet, you eat meat, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruit.” Windschauer praises the diet and even goes on to say that she felt “more alive than ever and had more energy than she had had in years.”

While the Paleo Diet did have its ups it also had its downs. Windschauer enjoyed the new found energy boost, but she also missed all the sweets she used to eat.

“You know it got really hard not being able to just grab banana bread on the way to work in the morning. I looked for products that could satisfy my sweet tooth but would also satisfy paleo requirements but there were none” said Windschauer. It was that same day she took matters into her own hand and stated creating “sweets” that were made solely from seeds, nuts, and fruits.

She then took her paleo friendly sweets she baked to her local gym to share with her friends and they became an instant hit. People soon began offering compensation for her products, and overnight the company Base Culture was created.

Many customers have claimed to not even taste the difference between paleo friendly brownies and regular brownies. “I just tasted it and it’s actually really good and it’s awesome that it’s really healthy” said satisfied customer Lexi Ashby.

The idea of paleo friendly products has taken the market by force. Since the company’s beginning in 2013, Base Culture products are now available in over 50 stores nationwide and will soon be available in Walmart.

 

 

 

 

CSDS responds to the refugee crisis at USF

The University of South Florida Tampa campus has been developing its 5 year Strategic Plan in order to create a more “universal” university that provides students with the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful. The USF Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies (CSDS) hosts conventions to introduce this plan, with distinguished scholars and professionals on matters of international significance.

On Apr. 20, 2016, CSDS hosted a conference to discuss the Western responses to the refugee crisis, and migration from the Middle East and North Africa.

Cassandra Kenning, an undergraduate intern at the Center says, “The Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies hosts these global conferences on USF campus for the students, and unfortunately a lot of students don’t know about the conferences that are happening. We try to hold them all day long starting in the morning till the late or midafternoon so students have the opportunity to come in between their classes. The conferences right now do a really great job at gathering community members to the university to participate.”

At the conference, speakers present their research on specific topics and all the attendees have the opportunity to ask questions. However, the conference isn’t just educational; it also helps bring the community together.

Tiffiany Portacio a student assistant at USF World says, “, I love seeing probably all of the different people that come from all different walks of life.”

Students and faculty can expect new conferences starting Fall 2016, with and new speakers and conference topics. Furthermore, the Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies reminds the community that entrance to these conferences is free and open to the public.

Florida Focus News Brief April 18, 2016

In this episode: a North Port elementary school was on lock down while officers searched for a stabbing suspect; a pedestrian hit by two different vehicles in Pinellas Park has passed away; a Tampa man is in critical condition after his home catches fire; lanes on Seminole Blvd will be closed for sewer main repairs; local post offices stay open late to help last-minute tax filers.

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Rays Begin Spring Training

Port Charlotte- Fans couldn’t have been more excited as the Tampa Bay Rays baseball season officially began in southwest Florida. After a loss in their spring opener against the Nationals, Rays’ fans came to Charlotte Sports Park looking for a win against the Orioles on Friday.

“These games matter to us!” said Cynthia Howard, a Rays’ fan from Sarasota. “We love baseball so much that we want wins even when they don’t count.”

Howard was joined by William Hall, her boyfriend, who happened to be an Orioles fan.

“The Orioles will win today. We lost yesterday too, so we came here looking to win,” Hall said.

Howard’s team came out on top as the Rays defeated the Orioles 10-3. The Rays first win of the spring was highlighted by newcomer Corey Dickerson’s long home run in the 2nd.

Acquired in a trade from the Rockies in the offseason, Dickerson drilled a towering shot over the Rays’ clubhouse in right field. The Rays have reported that the ball stopped rolling in the parking lot 569 feet from home plate.

It was quite the debut for Dickerson; something Rays’ fans hope is a sign of things to come.

Clearwater Comic Con: comics, anime and much more

Clearwater, FL-On March 19 at the Clearwater Public Library, comic and gaming enthusiasts came together for the third annual Clearwater Comic Con. This was a free event for all who attended. There was a myriad of booths and activities that catered to many interests, such as comics, gaming and anime.

The Clearwater Main Library is located at 100 N. Osceola Ave. Within these walls, geeks of all sorts gather to share their passions.
The Clearwater Library is located at 100 N. Osceola Ave. Within these walls, people of all sorts gather to share their passions. By Shelbi Hayes
Outside of the Clearwater Main Library sits the Suncoast Ghost Busters' Ectomobile. This is a modern day replica of the original Ectomobile, or Ecto-1, used in the original Ghost Busters movies.
Outside of the Clearwater Library sits the Suncoast Ghost Busters’ Ectomobile. This is a modern day replica of the original Ectomobile, or Ecto-1, used in the original Ghost Busters movies. By Shelbi Hayes
The 501st Legion, a Star Wars fan group that recreates characters of the series, travels around to conventions. Eden Fraizer, a double-major in physics and dance at the University of Tampa, and Dorothy Harrison, a University of South Florida master's student, cosplay Padme Amidala and a red Storm Trooper.
The 501st Legion, a Star Wars fan group recreates characters of the series, travels around to conventions. Eden Fraizer, a double major in physics and dance at the University of Tampa, and Dorothy Harrison, a University of South Florida master’s student, cosplay Padme Amidala and a red Storm Trooper. By Shelbi Hayes
While fun and games are key to Clearwater Comic Con, Gamers on the Edge brings charity into the main room. GOTE, which has raised over $20,000, holds gaming events in the Tampa Bay area to donate money to local children's hospitals. The gaming group will hold a large tournament to collect more donations on May 15.
While fun and games are key to Clearwater Comic Con, Gamers on the Edge (GOTE) brings charity into the main room. GOTE, which has raised over $20,000, for charity, holds gaming events in the Tampa Bay area to donate money to local children’s hospitals. By Shelbi Hayes
Brian Johnson is a one-man prop-making company out of Clearwater, Fl. His booth showcases his recreations of popular video game weapons as well as customized Nerf guns. "I work 90 hours a week and I'm not sick of it," Johnson said.
Brian Johnson is a one man, prop-making company out of Clearwater, FL. His booth showcases his recreations of popular video game weapons as well as customized Nerf guns. “I work 90 hours a week and I’m not sick of it,” Johnson said. By Shelbi Hayes
Kaitlyn Little showcases her ability to recreate the Borderlands character, Psycho, and stay in character in the final event of the comic con, the cosplay competition. "The voices," Little said when the competition host asked her why she chose this character, a nod to the character's personalty.
Kaitlyn Little showcases her ability to recreate the Borderlands character, Psycho, in the final event of the comic con, the cosplay competition. “The voices,” Little said when asked why she chose this character, was a nod to the character’s personalty. Little took first place. By Shelbi Hayes

More than a beauty school

 

PLANT CITY – Paul Granville originally came to America from Warwickshire, England, 13 years ago on a marketing trip. However, when he touched down in the states, his career plan quickly changed. After meeting his cosmetologist wife, Nanette, he decided to also pursue a career in cosmetology. Now, Granville is the successful business owner of Focus 4 Beauty career institute.

“I went to barber school here in America, well in Florida and had a terrible experience in the two schools I went to and that I knew we could do it better. So we sent out a journey of putting the school together” said Granville.

The idea of helping develop people is what originally attracted Granville to pursuing a cosmetology career. He wanted to go beyond teaching aspiring stylists about the fundamentals of cosmetology.

“But he helped me build up my confidence and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself and wouldn’t even imagine doing this” said Val Thompson, Cosmetology student.

He aims to fill the gaps in their education, and teach them about marketing, personal management, and how to look after themselves.

“Their success is our success,” Granville said. “We need to see them go out into the community and continue to be successful.”

Students at Focus 4 Beauty are appreciative of how Granville goes beyond just preparing them for the state test and take his unique approach in preparing them for life as a stylist.

“I couldn’t ask for a better place to be,” Thompson said.

Florida Focus News Brief April 5, 2016

In this episode: Pinellas schools are facing a federal civil rights review; a new way to buy used cars is coming to the Bay Area; a house fire in Brandon exposes a marijuana grow house; brain training exercises may help senior drivers keep their licenses longer; Sun n’ Fun begins today at Lakeland.

 

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Rays Fan Fest 2016

Fans were given a chance to mingle with both players, coaches, and alumni. Autographs by some of the team favorites raised over $50,000 for charity. Carnival-style games and batting cages were enjoyed by fans of all ages.

After two decades of playing at Tropicana Field in St. Pete, word of the team seeking out a new stadium spread fast. With an official search for a site underway, fans were asked what they thought about the potential move.

Trevor Norman of Largo said, “I don’t think it’s really the whole far away factor…you hop on the interstate and you’re there. I think the biggest thing is probably parking. Kind of a shady area but, you know, I guess, I think if they could improve that they could definitely get more people to come.”

Key considerations of the new stadium include location, authenticity, and size. The Rays’ have suggested a site with at least 20 acres.

Season ticket holder Travis McManan isn’t going to let the relocation affect his loyalty to the Rays. “I’m a pretty hardcore baseball fan. If it’s Tampa, if it’s in St. Pete, if it’s in Orlando, as long as it’s a reasonable drive, I’m going to be right there,” McMahan said.

This year’s Fan Fest set a record attendance of over 17,000 people.

The first game of the season is scheduled for April 3rd. The Rays’ will take on the Toronto Blue Jays with a home field advantage.

Getting social with the USF brand

Social media has never been more prevalent in college and professional sports than it is today. At the University of South Florida, Mike Farrell is the man behind the computer screen.

“A lot of it is one, developing a voice for our social channels and then two creating content that’s going to engage our fanbase,” Farrell said.

As the Director of Digital Content, Farrell is in charge of churning out vines, tweets, pictures and more across all of USF Athletics’ social media platforms every day.

“One of the things we want to do and want to push is to create stuff that is engaging, stuff that people want to consume, share, retweet and help spread the brand,” Farrell said.

One of the most important days for any athletic department each year is National Signing Day. Student athletes from all over the country officially sign with the school of their choosing. The content created by Farrell and his team made waves on a national level, including an appearance on Yahoo! Sports Dr. Saturday blog.

“This year in particular we had a couple national organizations, blogs, write about some of the things that we did,” Farrell said. “It was a lot of hard work, a lot of people put in a lot, a lot of hours for what’s really just a glorified morning. But I do think that it pays dividends in the end.”

The work Farrell puts in on a daily basis is critical to the growing online presence that is USF Athletics.

“For a large subset of our fans, if you don’t have that presence, you’re irrelevant,” Senior Associate Director of Athletics Andrew Goodrich said.

Even though Farrell is fully focused on the day-to-day task of enhancing USF Athletics’ presence online, he doesn’t lose sight of the big picture.

“When one person leaves, somebody else can come in and there’s no drop,” Farrell said. “That’s the USF brand. That’s the USF Athletics brand. That’s the USF football brand. There’s no change. That needs to be a constant.”

 

 

 

Dinosaurs in Motion

Gaming technology can open up a new realm of ideas and possibilities to those involved in gaming, computer engineering, and for other fields and occupations. MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, is the prime example of its technology by bringing dinosaurs to life with levers, pulleys and the Sony PlayStation controllers in their new exhibit “Dinosaurs in Motion.” 

Grayson Kamm, the communications director of MOSI, explained the concept of the mechanics of the way the dinosaurs are manipulated. 

“Controls can get more complex and machines can get more complex,” said Kamm. “So you start with a lever moving the T-Rex all the way up to a PlayStation video game controller, and getting that to work to where you’re using these controls to run electric motors to coordinate everything is not an easy task. 

It’s an interesting experience to everybody who visits MOSI, especially the employees who work at the exhibit. Stephen Shuey, a MOSI employee, has witnessed the visitors’ experiences and expressions with how the PlayStation controller controls the dinosaurs. 

“It’s like manual and game control both are fun,” Shuey said. 

This exhibit expands visitors imagination of what game controllers can do besides controlling something in a video game. Things like controlling robots, a crane, or anything in the real world.  

“By getting to think about new ideas, fresh ways to do different things, that’s what it’s all about at MOSI because the possibilities down the line are going to be totally different and totally endless,” Kamm said.

 

Uber Drivers Protest Gasparilla in Wake of Rate Cuts

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Uber drivers cruised down North Dale Mabry and turned off their apps during the afternoon hours of Gasparilla Pirate Festival.

Downtown Tampa was flooded with inebriated pirates celebrating the 101st Gasparilla Pirate Festival on Saturday. Almost all of them relied on Uber services to take them to where X marked the spot, the following bar on the map.

While Uber drivers searched Bayshore Boulevard picking up dressed up pirates, a separate group of Uber drivers gathered for a different cause.

Nearly 30 Uber drivers gathered on North Dale Mabry to protest the recent changes made to driving rates. Uber recently cut 20 percent off prices for Tampa drivers in an effort to reduce the “slump” they suffered in January, according to their website.

Messages such as “UberFail” and “Lower fare=higher surge” inscribed on their cars showed that these drivers were trying to send a message.

Uber originally started at $1.80 in the Tampa Bay area and has since dropped to 65 cents per mile. Brian Decker, 22, has been a six month Uber driver and said that drivers are not satisfied with the rate cuts and feel as if Uber is reaping the benefits.

“We chose Gasparilla to send this message because it’s one of the most important days for Uber drivers in Tampa,” Decker said. “Uber has constantly been cutting down the rate and leaving drivers with almost no reason to drive.”

The protest started at 2:30 p.m. which was expected to be Uber’s highest time of demand with increased prices. Uber recorded rates of 6.9 times the average rate during the afternoon of last years Gasparilla Pirate Festival.

Despite last years increased rates, drivers complained that this year’s rates were not nearly as close to what was expected.

“It’s pretty ridiculous quite honestly,” Decker said. “I wasn’t planning to drive today and I’ve seen that the surge is only around 1.5 and that’s not close to what Uber was saying.”

Despite certain Uber drivers not being satisfied with the expected surge rate, Gasparilla attendee Samantha Heffernan, 24,  said her price of travel was increased certainly from regular rates.

“I was told to enter a promo code that would take money off my Uber charge, but even with that I still had to pay 34 dollars,” Heffernan said. “The surge rate I saw was about 3.2 times the normal rate, so I’m pretty confident drivers made their money.”

Several companies such as Captain Morgan gave Uber users a promo code for which allowed users to get a ride for a discounted rate.

Uber has yet to address whether or not rates will increase for drivers, which according to Decker, will affect their numbers.

“Some people use this as their main job, others don’t. It doesn’t matter what your occupation is, 65 cents a mile is not going to work for anyone,” Decker said.