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Partnerships and Projects: Drexel's Recent Industry and Civic Engagement Connections

June 20, 2023

Business communication concept. Marketing. Shaking hands. Teamwork.

Last term, Drexel University — through its colleges, schools and other units and programs — created a variety of new opportunities for industry and local partnerships as well as civic engagement. This update offers a snapshot of activity courtesy of the Office of the Provost.  

New Key Partnerships

The Academy of Natural Sciences' Patrick Center for Environmental Research and Community Learning Division are working closely with The Environmental Collaboratory (TEC) at Drexel to develop new projects that reflect the institution’s heightened emphasis on environmental justice and equity. The Science Shop, one of these projects, is now moving into operation. In addition, a group of Philadelphia community-based organizations representing underserved communities has been assembled to guide this climate equity work, supported by TEC funds from the Waverly Street Foundation.

Professional staff from the Patrick Center for Environmental Research's Fisheries and Macroinvertebrate sections conducted a webinar for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, focusing on their use of environmental DNA to support conservation. This is part of a broader strategy to encourage funding from and partnerships with these agencies for projects that use this innovative methodology.

The College of Computing & Informatics’ (CCI) Corporate Partners Program continues to grow to help meet industry demand and to expand the tech talent pipeline. Since hosting an “Industry Summit on Tech Talent Supply” in the fall, the program has welcomed ten new partners including: Protiviti, Put Nature Back, International SOS, Assistek, Sikich LLP, Chester County Intermediate Unit, Accenture, Slalom, the Phillies and Spectrum Software Technology.

Scott Haag, PhD computer science '19, joined CCI faculty as a Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)-based Drexel research assistant professor. Haag’s three-year appointment is part of a new initiative to develop a vibrant and collaborative research program relevant both to CHOP and CCI, including research grants and contracts that promote collaborative research between CHOP and Drexel.

The Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship partnered with Janssen Pharmaceutical Immunology Division to provide a non-matriculated digital badge certificate program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The curriculum included education on tools such as the Lean Startup Methodology, approaches to corporate innovation, case study reviews and learnings directly from professionals who have launched new ideas in their fields to solve problems and improve the lives of others. The program introduces an assessment tool called the Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile and is exclusive to the immunology division at the Cambridge and La Jolla campuses. Upon completion, participants received a digital badge, distinguishing themselves as alumnus of the Close School.

Susan Solecki, DrPH, associate clinical professor of nursing in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, is volunteer nursing faculty collaborating with nursing and medical faculty and administrators at Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy (HUMP) with Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) in Hue, Vietnam. HVO improves the availability and quality of health care through the education, training, and professional development of the health workforce in resource-scarce countries. Solecki assisted with developing and leading CME seminars at HUMP and other agencies for undergraduate and graduate nursing students.

The College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences brought the American Psychological Association’s “I Am Psyched!” exhibit back to Drexel for the seventh consecutive year. The multimedia pop-up installation explores the historical and contemporary contributions of women of color in psychology.

Jason Weckstein, PhD, associate professor of biodiversity, earth and environmental science in the College of Arts and Sciences, served as a creative collaborator on the Academy of Natural Sciences’ Conversations With Birds exhibit. The Academy partnered with Drexel's Writers Room, as well as experts from local birding and conservation groups, to host programming during the exhibit.

Joe Hughes, PhD, Distinguished University Professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, and General Philip Breedlove (SACEUR 17, ret.) presented at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Annual Mid-Atlantic Summit hosted by Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. The title of their talk was “Peace Engineering: Old Problems, New Approaches.” 

Lutfi Agartan, PhD, and Dimitrios Fafalis, PhD, assistant teaching professors of mechanical engineering and mechanics in the College of Engineering, have developed a project on new flow measuring equipment developed and currently being built by Drexel’s co-op students working in Eastern Controls, Inc. (ECI) facilities as a part of partnership developed between ECI, Endress+Hauser and Drexel University. PIs are aiming to develop a machine learning model that will be trained on the specific operating conditions, which will be determined by monitoring the incoming data continuously and identifying any shifts in the data which may compromise operations. This system will identify major deviations and depending on the level of severity, auto shutdown the system to prevent any failure that will be more costly both financially and timewise. 

The Dana and David Dornsife School of Public Health's Urban Health Collaborative and the Center for the Prevention of Chronic Diseases at the Institute for Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP) have partnered to establish the Drexel-INCAP Training Program on Social Determinants of Cardiovascular Disease Over the Life Course. This program was established, in part, because cardiovascular disease (CVD) incidence and the prevalence of CVD risk factors have steadily increased in the Central American region over the last several decades.

The Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice at the Dornsife School of Public Health was named a recipient of the Philadelphia Eagles’ Social Justice Fund to address gun violence and its lasting effects. This funding will also support nine other Philadelphia nonprofits that provide financial education and support for violence prevention as well as encourage collaboration.

The Bennett S. LeBow College of Business’ Center for Business Analytics partnered with Under Armour to present the 2023 Graduate Datathon, an analytics case competition for graduate students.

The LeBow College of Business’ Dornsife Office for Experiential Learning partnered with three organizations on business consulting courses, offering project-based opportunities for undergraduate students from across Drexel. These partnerships engaged Huron Industries, supplier and manufacturer for industrial industries; Aseema, advocate for children’s education across marginalized communities abroad; and Remix, a boutique Philadelphia-area fitness studio co-founded and co-owned by Mary Cate Wampler, BSBA ’10, MBA ’11.

The Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design partnered with Varlo, the Cherry Hill-based triathlon performance line. In collaboration with Hijabi athletes, Varlo worked with current student Sehlah Ahmad, MS fashion design ’23, to develop the first hijab wear plus full coverage apparel to multisport.

New Key Civic Engagement Engagements 

The Academy of Natural Sciences' Tim Maguire, PhD, section lead for biogeochemistry; Michelle Gannon, PhD, post-doctoral researcher for biogeochemistry; and Mariangeles Arce H., collections manager for fisheries; and Chris Sales, PhD, professor of environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, conducted a virtual Academy Conversation for the public on recent new findings related to PFAS, the so-called “forever chemicals.”

Greg Cowper, curatorial assistant for entomology in the Academy of Natural Sciences, and Dan Otte, PhD, curator emeritus for entomology in the Academy of Natural Sciences, hosted a fireside chat featuring storytelling, live music and audio recordings of crickets that Otte collected over decades of fieldwork. With a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and the help of Drexel co-op students, the duo is processing these priceless cricket songs, linking them to the Academy’s collections and making them freely available to researchers worldwide.

The clinical practices of the College of Medicine offered mpox vaccinations at all their clinical practices, as well as the Dornsife Community Wellness HUB. The vaccination efforts have expanded in part thanks to a $50,000 grant that the Partnership Comprehensive Care Practice received from the Philadelphia Department of Public health. 

Dornsife School of Public Health students Rashmeet Kaur, MPH ’23; Precious Anyadike, MPH ’23; and Meredith Anne Capuli, MPH ’23, worked together to complete an Applied Practical Experience at the Center for Leadership, Development & Advocacy, Inc. (CLDA) to address period poverty in Philadelphia.

Dornsife School of Public Health students Houssam Joudi, MPH ’23, and Riana Tuwaidan, MPH ’23, helped advance and relaunch the “H.E.A.L.T.H (Helping Everyone Attain Longevity Through Healthy) Foods Pantry” at the AIDS Care Group (ACG) as their Applied Practical Experience. ACG is a local nonprofit that provides comprehensive and compassionate clinical care and social services to persons living with leading public health conditions.