As students across North Carolina return from winter break, those heading back to the state’s public universities have an interesting semester ahead.
This spring, classes across the UNC system will challenge students to:
Fly to the edge of space
An engineering team of UNC Charlotte seniors will literally reach the stratosphere in Earth Science 2030: Near-Space Balloon Exploration. Using expertise in computer science, meteorology, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering, student teams will design and build high-altitude weather balloons to collect and transmit data from the edge of space. Previous groups in the NASA-backed course have successfully recovered balloons that ventured 17 miles up and flew clear across the state, taking pictures and video from the very edge of the atmosphere.
Create their own jobs
At UNC Wilmington’s Cameron School of Business, a group of undergraduates will be fine-tuning innovative business plans in Entrepreneurship and Business Development 490: Business Development and Commercialization. By reading, analyzing, and discussing case studies of real-world companies trying to launch new products or grow into new markets, students will explore the challenges of commercialization. As a final project, they will present their own plan for a new venture or expansion project.
Prepare for the rise of the machines
Students in Fayetteville State University’s Computer Science 434: Artificial Intelligencewill spend the semester contemplating the rise of machine intelligence. Guided by Professor Sambit Bhattacharya, who has led robotics camps at FSU and won national grants to bring robots into the classroom, computer science students will explore the theories behind artificial intelligence and learn about the growing fields — from language processing to visual analysis — where machine thinking has found real-world applications. Talking with Siri will never be the same.
Help build western North Carolina’s manufacturing industry
The engineers at Western Carolina University are strong believers in project-based learning. That’s why students studying at the Center for Rapid Product Realization will spend the spring semester tackling a real-world manufacturing problem, working directly with industry partners in the western region. Whether they’re 3D-printing prototypes or reconfiguring a factory floor for better workflow, students in engineering and technology majors will use their capstone projects to make North Carolina industry more competitive.
Survey the nature of war, from stones to drones
Professor Wayne Lee — chair of UNC Chapel Hill’s curriculum in Peace, War, and Defense — will walk students through an intensive history of human conflict, starting with nomadic clashes and ending with cyberattacks. In History 351: The Global History of Warfare, students will use readings, discussion, and deeply researched papers to discover how innovations on the battlefield have changed whole societies and altered the course of history.
Recruit racecar sponsors
Racing is big business in North Carolina, and students at Winston-Salem State University will find out how the money moves in Motorsports Management 3301: Sponsorship in Motorsport. From the decals that go on the hood of the car to the driver endorsements that show up on television commercials, WSSU’s aspiring speed demons will learn how to turn race day into payday and help grow one of the state’s most high-profile industries.
These are just a few ways that our state’s public universities are making a difference in the real world.