FLCC to Ph.D. Part 2: This thing called math

About two years into his career teaching mathematics at FLCC, Charles Hoffman ’01 set in motion a chain of events that has advanced the development of cloaking technology.

All he did was answer a student’s question. That student, Ryan Vogt, had signed up for Charles’ class to fulfill a requirement for computer science. Ryan had hated math in high school.

Male student in front of NC State sign
Ryan Vogt ’13 is on track to earn his doctorate in mathematics from North Carolina State University this spring./Photo by Ken Martin

“He took the time to tell me a story about why math was important,” Ryan explained. “He spent a great amount of time with me.”

Ryan is now finishing up his Ph.D. in mathematics at North Carolina State University and has spent the last two summers working at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. His research has included solving problems in the development of binary electromagnetic cloaking, the science of manipulating the paths of light to make an object optically invisible.

Ryan is among the alumni who credit FLCC as the springboard for careers in research. In each case a person or program at the college was just what they needed at just the right moment.

Cover of The Laker magazine
Ryan’s story is one of several in the Winter/Spring edition of The Laker magazine. Click this image to read the electronic version.

Nationally, community colleges get attention for their agility in developing applied programs to meet local needs. Think of courses for wind turbine technicians at two-year schools in the Midwest and FLCC’s viticulture and wine technology degree.

It is not uncommon, however, for students who got their start at community college to pursue doctoral degrees. The National Student Clearinghouse reports that 11 percent of those who earned doctoral degrees in 2016-17 entered higher education at a community college. The proportion was highest in the health and clinical sciences in which 21.5 percent of all those who earned doctoral research degrees started at a two-year school.

Continue reading “FLCC to Ph.D. Part 2: This thing called math”

FLCC to Ph.D. Part 1: A professor’s story

The newest edition of The Laker magazine features four alumni who have earned or are about to earn Ph.D.s. Each talks about how their FLCC experience contributed to their decision to pursue academic research. We’ll share their stories over the next several days -and the full magazine will appear in your mailbox. (Not on the mailing list? Let us know.)

In the meantime, FLCC faculty have their own stories to tell.

Young woman talking to female professor
Linda Ross, Psy.D., professor of psychology, speaks with a prospective student at an FLCC open house in 2018.

Linda Ross was a high school dropout working as a seamstress when she decided she wanted more out of life. She embarked on an educational journey that ended with a doctorate in clinical psychology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In the audio file below, she shares her story with a colleague.

Tomorrow, Part 2: This thing called math

Alumni: Stay in touch
We love learning your stories and sharing them. Help us stay in touch by updating your contact information. Click here for an online form to record your address and any news.


Podcast explores ‘Ontario County History and Culture’

Three people making a podcast
Valerie Knoblauch, executive director of Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, moderates a podcast with Fred and Nancy Goodnow, who have led the effort to restore the Cheshire Grange building, at the Finger Lakes TV podcasts studio at the Finger Lakes Community College main campus.

A diverse community group has created a local podcast to share efforts to support and promote local history and the arts.

“Ontario County History and Culture” was recorded in the Finger Lakes Television podcast studio at the Finger Lakes Community College main campus in Canandaigua.
FLTV Podcast logo

The first episode of the podcast was released on Feb. 23 with a new episode released weekly through April 12. Ontario County History and Culture is available through iTunes, Google Play and Spotify. It also can be accessed on the Finger Lakes Television website at ochc.fingerlakestv.org.

George Herren, retired Ontario County property tax services director and operations division manager, who serves on several community groups, approached the Ontario County Historical Society, Ontario County Arts Council and the Cheshire Community Action Team about co-sponsoring the podcast and all parties agreed.

“After learning that Finger Lakes TV was expanding into podcasting, I thought it would be a golden opportunity to share information about all the work that is done to preserve our local history and promote the arts,” he said. “A lot happens behind the scenes to make our county such a vibrant place to live and visit.”

Herren enlisted a wide range of moderators and guest presenters, including Preston Pierce, Ontario County historian; Fred and Nancy Goodnow; who are leading the effort to restore the former Cheshire Grange as a local theater and meeting hall; former Mayor Ellen Polimeni, and Sheriff Kevin Henderson.

Finger Lakes TV, the local public access cable station, offers the service for a fee to cover costs associated with recording, editing and uploading podcasts for distribution. The project also provided hands-on experience in podcast recording and editing for a Finger Lakes Community College student.

Finger Lakes TV is a community service funded by local municipalities and based at FLCC through an in-kind donation of space and administrative services. More information about Finger Lakes TV is available at fingerlakestv.org or by calling (585) 785-1623.

FLCC celebrates Women’s History Month with March 5 talk

Ashley Hopkins Benton
Ashley Hopkins Benton will give a talk at the main campus in celebration of Women’s History Month.

Finger Lakes Community College will continue its History, Culture & Diversity speaker series with an event on Thursday, March 5 focused on the fight for women’s suffrage in New York.

Ashley Hopkins-Benton, senior historian and curator of social history at the New York State Museum, will give a Women’s History Month talk, titled “Leading the Charge: The Fight for Women’s Suffrage in New York and Beyond.” Free and open to the public, it will be held from 12:40 to 1:50 p.m. in Room 2775 at the FLCC main campus, 3325 Marvin Sands Drive, Canandaigua.

Hopkins-Benton has worked at the museum since 2014, and has served as its senior curator for the past four years. Her focus is on women’s history, LGBTQ+ history, immigrant and ethnic history, sculpture and toys. She is the co-author of “Votes for Women: Celebrating New York’s Suffrage Centennial,” “Enterprising Waters: The History and Art of New York’s Erie Canal” and “Breathing Life into Stone: The Sculpture of Henry DiSpirito.”

She earned her master’s degree in history museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program and a bachelor’s degree in art education/art studio at the State University of New York College at Potsdam.
The History, Culture and Diversity series is coordinated by Robert Brown, professor of history at FLCC. After the March 5 talk, spring semester events are as follows:

• Talk commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Korean War, Thursday, March 26, 12:30 p.m., Stage 14, FLCC main campus. Veteran Norman Champagne will share his experiences with the Marine Corps in Korea from 1952 to 1953. His honors include the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, and he serves as historian for the Korean War Legacy Foundation.

• Holocaust remembrance talk by survivor Lea Malek, Thursday, April 2, 12:30 p.m., FLCC main campus auditorium. Malek was 5 years old when her family in Hungary was boarded onto trains headed for concentration camps. Much of her family was murdered. She survived, only to witness the brutality of the Hungarian revolution in Budapest.

The events are free and open to all. Those planning to attend should plan to arrive early for parking; handicap parking is available. For more information, contact Robert Brown at Robert.Brown@flcc.edu or (585) 785-1307.

IC Tech alumni get nod in new book

Two alumni from the instrumentation and control technologies (IC Tech) program are featured in a new book that tells the story of Construction Robotics.

Book cover showing robot arm, hard hat
The cover of a new book about Construction Robotics.

“SAM: One Robot, a Dozen Engineers and the Race to Revolutionize the Way We Build” by Jonathan Waldman explains how Nate Podkaminer and his son-in-law, Scott Peters, developed a brick-laying robot. They call it a semi-automated mason, or SAM, for short.

Construction Robotics was the first company to work with FLCC to get status under the Start-Up New York business development program. Under the partnership, the company agreed to give FLCC’s IC Tech students internships, and if all went well, jobs.

IC Tech was launched in 2010 as an interdisciplinary technology program, coordinated by Sam Samanta, professor of physics. Sam assists each student in finding a co-op, or paid internship, with a local company that often turns into a full-time job.

Kerry Lipp ’13 enrolled in IC Tech after injuries ended his construction career. In the book he is credited with helping develop some of the custom equipment necessary for this first-of-its-kind machine. “Essentially, he put together all the crazy things Scott dreamed up,” the author writes.

Mike Oklevitch, a former Eastman Kodak chemical engineer, also enrolled in IC Tech for a career change and landed a co-op at Construction Robotics. The title of chapter 10 bears his nickname, Mortar Mike, for his work in developing a way to keep the mortar the robot uses at the right consistency to stick to the bricks.

To read a New York Times review of the book, click here.