News Briefs

Geomatics program receives grant

The UAA School of Engineering Department of Geomatics was awarded a grant worth $548,000 from Trimble Navigation, a partner to UAA and a leader in up-to-date products and services. UA will provide an additional $289,786 to the program. The geomatics program provides the only accredited surveying and mapping program in Alaska. The department is in need of more laboratory equipment to accommodate the growing need for technicians, surveys and analysts and the overall increase in student enrollment. The School of Engineering’s computer labs are restrictive in the number of users they can hold. The largest lab has 24 workstations and has resulted in overcrowding and teaching of multiple sections in the same class in order to accommodate. The School of Engineering will use the grant toward laptop equipment and surveying equipment that can teach up to 60 students. The equipment will be customized with mapping software, which will also allow faculty to teach courses at high schools, businesses and rural locations.

IT Services to report to the provost

UAA Executive Vice Chancellor Ejigu and Provost Mike Driscoll announced that Information Technology Services is to now report to Driscoll. The decision was made after months of consideration and input from faculty and staff, recognizing the role technology plays in UAA’s academic mission. Rich Whitney, Chief Information Officer and Vice Provost for Information Technology, will continue to provide leadership for Information Technology Services. Driscoll has asked Whitney, in consultation with faculty, to search for applicants for the currently open position of Director for eMedia Services, who will report to Whitney.

Computer-theft suspect arrested

The University Police Department arrested Joshua Fletcher, 19, for stealing a computer and power cord from employee offices at UAA. UPD investigation revealed that Fletcher had taken a notebook computer from a staff office in the Professional Studies Building in February, and on a later date stole a power cord for a notebook computer from the Administration and Humanities Building. Fletcher had access to these buildings at night as a contract janitor from the American Building Maintenance for UAA. UPD Detective Mike Beckner issued a warrant to search Fletcher’s vehicle and residence and found the notebook computer and power cord as evidence for the arrest. Fletcher was arrested for felony theft and was sent to the Anchorage Correctional Facility with a $2,500 bail. Whether Fletcher is responsible for any other laptop thefts on campus is unknown at this time.

Cabin Fever Debates wraps up competition with Iran debate

Out of 40 UAA students who competed in the preliminary rounds of the Cabin Fever Debates, four teams had been chosen to advance to the final round on Tuesday, March 6, in the Student Union Den. Appropriate in its timeliness, the motion for the final round was “The West should recognize Iran’s right to develop nuclear technology.” The team members consisted of Mia Sethi and Natalia Mejia; Caitlin Burr and Matti Dupre; Peter Finn and Severin Randall; and Behnaaz Irani and Michelle Steffens. The students debated before a panel of judges, including past winners of the Cabin Fever Debates and Seawolf Debate Team alumni. The debates were followed by an awards ceremony in which the winning team members of Platinum Vexation, Peter Finn and Severin Randall, were each presented with $1,000 cash and an invitation to the U.S. Universities Debating Championships with the Seawolf Debate Team on March 31 and April 1. Behnaaz Irani was awarded with the Quianna Clay Award for Excellence in Debating. The debates are free and open to the public.

Residence Life event practices safety for living in campus housing

According to a 2005-2006 study at UAA, 91 percent of students felt safe living in campus housing. With recent situations, such as the armed robbery in the MAC laundry room, and spring break approaching, Residence Life provided the opportunity for students living in campus housing to role-play different life-threatening and difficult scenarios on Monday, March 12, in the Commons. The scenarios were written and performed by UAA student staff members. Students were presented with scenarios including a kitchen fire, a depressed friend, alcohol poisoning, armed robbery, spring break dilemma and a close encounter with a moose. Students would act out what they would do in the scene and then discuss with staff members from the Health Center, Dean of Students Office, UPD and Anchorage Fire Department the best responses for the situation. Participants were awarded with prizes from local Anchorage businesses for finishing each scenario.