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Clemson Celebrates 100 Years of ROTC

Clemson University’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps celebrated the ROTC’s 100th anniversary on Bowman Field. The ceremony named two outstanding former Army cadets – retired Lt. Gen. Gene Blackwell and retired Col. Ben Skardon – to the Clemson ROTC Hall of Fame. Former outstanding cadets were also named patrons to each training unit. Each patron’s story was read, and there was be a mini “museum” of artifacts from the university’s Special Collections on display. The ceremony was streamed live online on ClemsonTV.

“I am proud to be part of a university with such a strong military heritage,” said Max Allen, Clemson’s chief of staff and a retired U.S. Navy officer. “As a product of the Navy ROTC, I can see that Clemson has outstanding Army and Air Force ROTC units, both of which do an excellent job of preparing young men and women for service as military officers. ROTC also plays an important role in campus life, helping keep Clemson’s military traditions alive.”

The Army ROTC, as it exists today, began with President Woodrow Wilson signing the National Defense Act of 1916. Although military training had been taking place in civilian colleges and universities as early as 1819, the National Defense Act brought this training under single, federally controlled entity. The Army ROTC produces more officers than any organization in the military, having commissioned more than half a million second lieutenants since its inception. “Army ROTC at Clemson has been an integral part of Clemson since ROTC began here in 1917, however,

Clemson has a much longer military heritage since its inception in 1889,” said Lt. Col. James Mullinax, a professor of military leadership and commander of its ROTC program. “Being a former military school, Clemson has embraced ROTC fully since we went to an all-volunteer force. The support Clemson provides cadets is unmatched across the nation,” he said. “Clemson not only provides scholarships, but also provides great visual reminders all over campus of the sacrifices our service members have made in defense of our nation. This support to the ROTC programs has made them stronger today than at any point in time and this shows in the quality of lieutenants Clemson is producing every year. Cadets are carrying on a great military tradition that Clemson was founded on.” Col. Christopher Mann, commander of Clemson’s Air Force ROTC detachment – the Flyin’ Tigers – said it has been part of Clemson since 1947, the year the U.S. Air Force became a separate and independent service. “Since that time, Clemson graduates have served their nation honorably and with total commitment to the Air Force core values of ‘Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.’” Clemson’s Air Force ROTC has had 22 general officers produced from its ranks over the past 68 years.

Sergeant at Heart

Francis “Sarge” Lewis

Francis “Sarge” Lewis

It is often said in the Army that master sergeants are the ones really in charge of their units, and there’s probably more than a kernel of truth in that in a university ROTC unit. The master sergeant trains cadets in tactical tasks such as land navigation, first aid, working as a team, weapons firing and small unit movements as well as instilling in them values of discipline, integrity and responsibility.

Sarge Lewis with rifle teamIn the late 1950s and 1960s, Francis “Sarge” Lewis filled that role at Clemson. He not only instructed cadets in the basics of military training, he also advised and coached the newly established rifle team as well as serving as chaperone for the band and cheerleaders. The rifle team is pictured with Lewis in the 1967 Taps, and the section on the team refers to it as “one of the newer sports at Clemson.” That year the team was ACC champions, 3rd Army champions, S.C. State Champions and the Western Carolina Conference champions. It noted that the team had placed as high as fifth in the nation in the National Rifle Association competition.

Lewis was such an established part of the Clemson community that, according to a story told by his brother, Joe Lewis, when the army tried to transfer him away from Clemson, President Edwards stepped in and managed to retain Lewis.

Landmarks-Sarge Lewis groupLongtime Clemson administrator Nick Lomax ’63 remembers Lewis both from his time as a student and from when he returned to campus as a staff member after two years in the military. According to Lomax, Lewis “had the perfect military posture, and his normal walk appeared to be a military march.” Lomax also commented on how helpful Lewis and his fellow sergeants — Burton, Gilbert and Purcell — were to “young cadets as we prepared for military service.”

When Lewis retired in 1967, he purchased the nearby Esso Station and soon replaced the small grocery section with a pool table, beginning the transformation of a gas station into the “Esso Club,” a gathering place for students and locals.

Lewis died on September 6, 2015. As his family wrote in his obituary, “The first part of his military career was spent growing and maturing into a professional solider; the last half was spent growing and maturing young men and women into productive American citizens.”

Thanks to Allen Wood for providing background on Lewis and his time at Clemson.

Cadets Team Up with Veterans

ROTC Helping VetsCadets from both Army and Air Force ROTC programs worked with members of Purple Heart Homes, who are veterans themselves, to fix up the home of World War II veteran Fred Turner. These cadets worked at scraping old paint and repainting windows and awnings, as well as clearing out brush and debris in Turner’s back yard. Cadets were able to talk with and learn from veterans of multiple generations. Army and Air Force ROTC will be partnering with Purple Heart Homes during the spring semester as well.

Graduates Commissioned as Second Lieutenants

SHAROSCA MACK ’14, AN ECONOMICS MAJOR FROM LORIS, WAS commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army at a joint Army and Air Force ceremony on May 8. Nineteen students received commissions into the U.S. Army and 11 received commissions into the U.S. Air Force. The ceremony featured guest speaker Col. (Ret.) Rick Schwartz M ’95. A former Army ROTC instructor, he retired last year after 29 years in the Army.

Following the commissioning ceremony, the new lieutenants participated in a Silver Dollar Salute ceremony at Military Heritage Plaza. The ceremony marks the first salute the new officer receives from an enlisted service member. As a sign of mutual respect, the officer presents the enlisted member with a silver dollar.

In These Hills

International teachers learn and teach

Richard Balikoowa from Uganda was one of 16 teachers from seven different countries who studied on campus and taught in local schools from January through May. They are part of the International Leaders in Education Program, a professional exchange program funded by a subgrant from the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), which is funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The teachers completed an on-campus academic program with some of Clemson’s School of Education faculty, and then interned with a partner teacher at Riverside Middle, Liberty Middle and Seneca High.

As part of this program, which is in its sixth year at Clemson, the teachers engage in formal and informal cultural activities in which they learn about American culture and share about their own. Teacher Fellows go through a yearlong selection process; they are nominated by their own country, approved through that country’s American embassy and local Fulbright commission, and screened through the U.S. State Department and IREX. Clemson is one of four universities selected to host the group.

Clemson team selected for Solar Decathlon

Clemson's Solar Decathlon team

Clemson’s Solar Decathlon team

The U.S. Department of Energy selected a Clemson team to compete in the Solar Decathlon 2015. Clemson is one of 20 colleges and universities across the country and around the world that will now begin the nearly two-year process of building solar-powered houses that are affordable, innovative and highly energy efficient.

“We are honored and excited to participate in the Solar Decathlon 2015,” said Akel Kahera, associate dean for Clemson’s College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. “This competition offers our students a one-of-a-kind learning and training experience that helps students excel once they enter the clean energy industry.”

Over the coming months, the Solar Decathlon teams will design, construct and test their houses before reassembling them at the Solar Decathlon 2015 competition site in Irvine, Calif. As part of the Solar Decathlon, teams compete in 10 different contests, ranging from architecture and engineering to home appliance performance, while gaining valuable hands-on experience.

In fall 2015, the student teams will showcase their solar-powered houses at the competition site, providing free public tours of renewable energy systems and energy-efficient technologies, products and appliances that today are helping homeowners nationwide save money by saving energy. The solar-powered houses will represent a diverse range of design approaches; building technologies; target markets; and geographic locations, climates and regions, including urban, suburban and rural settings.

The Solar Decathlon helps demonstrate how energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies and design save money and energy while protecting local communities and boosting economic growth.
To view a video about the Solar Decathlon, go to clemson.edu/ clemsonworld and click on “In These Hills.”

Clemson partners in national hub for genetics research

President Clements presents Self Regional’s Jim Pfeiffer with a bowl crafted from a cedar tree at Fort Hill, the historic home of John C. Calhoun and Thomas G. Clemson.

President Clements presents Self Regional’s Jim Pfeiffer with a bowl crafted from a cedar tree at Fort Hill, the historic home of John C.  Calhoun and Thomas G. Clemson.

In February, Clemson, the Greenwood Genetic Center and Self Regional Healthcare announced a new partnership that will establish formal collaboration among genetic researchers and Clemson faculty. Self Regional Healthcare will support Clemson’s Center for Human Genetics with a gift of $5.6 million over three years. The gift consists of an initial contribution of $2 million for the center’s facilities and a subsequent contribution of $3.6 million to support research in genetics and human diagnostics at the facility located on the Greenwood Genetic Center campus.

“Today’s announcement will create a new pipeline for genetic research,” said John Pillman, chair of the Self Regional board of trustees. “The collaboration of these three partners will ultimately connect genetic therapeutics research to patients.”

Steve Skinner, director of the Greenwood Genetic Center, said such collaborations are crucial in turning research advances into clinically available therapies for patients, not only in Greenwood and across South Carolina, but globally. “This collaboration is a major step forward for patients as we combine the resources and strengths of each institution: Self’s commitment to patient care, Clemson’s expertise in basic scientific research and our experience with genetic disorders and treatment.”
Self Regional and the Genetic Center have had an affiliation agreement since 1975 with the Genetic Center’s clinical faculty serving as the Department of Medical Genetics for Self Regional.

President Clements said the announcement brings us a step closer to moving basic discoveries in human genetics from a research environment to a clinical setting, where they can be used to diagnose and treat real human disorders. “Clemson is proud to be part of this important collaborative effort, and we’re grateful to Self Regional Healthcare for its support of our research efforts at the Greenwood Genetic Center.”

The center will address research and clinical opportunities in human diagnostics and epigenetic therapeutics advancing personalized medicine for intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and disorders of the immune and nervous systems. Specific research will include molecular diagnostics and therapeutics, bioinformatics and computational/systems biology.

Self Regional Healthcare, as a research and lead health care partner, will support hospital-based clinical trials and collaborate in designated research activities. This marks Clemson’s third significant development at the Greenwood Genetic Center. In June 2013, Clemson announced it would expand its genetics programs, create an internationally competitive research and development team, and expand research capabilities at the Greenwood Genetic Center’s J.C. Self Institute through the Center for Human Genetics, a 17,000-square-foot research and education center in human genetics. And in November, Clemson established the Self Family Foundation Endowed Chair in Human Genetics, jointly funded by the Self Family Foundation and the state of South Carolina.

Ballato selected for class of ’39 award

John Ballato 2013 recipient of the Class of ’39 Award.

John Ballato 2013 recipient of the Class of ’39 Award.

With the increasing popularity of Sci-Fi movies, it’s no surprise that lasers conjure up images of futuristic adventures in outer space. But materials science and engineering professor John Ballato’s work in fiber optics isn’t happening in a galaxy far, far away — it’s all happening right here in Clemson.

The 2013 recipient of the Class of ’39 Award, Ballato is director of the Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET). His research in glass and specialty fiber has made seemingly fictitious concepts a reality. “It sounds very Star Trek-ish, but the military has lasers deployed around the world to shoot down a variety of threats,” Ballato said, “everything from missiles to RPGs.”

Although Ballato and his team don’t make the lasers that are sent to the battlefield, they do help develop the fiber optics that go inside them. The program’s success in the field of specialty fiber has enabled Ballato to work closely with the U.S. Department of Defense Joint Technology Office, which has invested more than $10 million in COMSET over the past eight years.

Ballato moved to Clemson in 1997 and worked with other researchers to start an optics program, no easy task for junior faculty members. “Doing optical fiber research is extremely expensive,” he said. “The equipment that you need is big, complex and dangerous.”

But a confluence of events fell into the team’s favor. The dot-com boom turned into the dot-com bust in the late 1990s, leaving a glut of fiber optic cable that no one wanted. But Ballato and his team knew there was more research to be done. They quickly found an underserved sector, a “sandbox” where no one else was playing, he said. “The Department of Defense was clamoring for specialty fiber,” he said. “They couldn’t get any because it was all going to communications.”

It was a perfect fit. The research had to be done onshore for security reasons, Ballato said, and the Department of Defense was a client with deep pockets. “There was nobody else talking to them,” he said. “Everybody else had moved on http://creative.clemson.edu/clemsonworld/2014/05/hills/to other things, and we rode that wave in fiber for 10 years, through two wars and a staggering amount of investment.”

Ballato said COMSET partners with companies to pitch programs to the Department of Defense. “Clemson is actually pretty unique nationally in the sense that we go from ‘dirt to shirt,’” he said. “We model it, we design it. We study new materials. We make the glasses. We draw the fiber. We build the lasers for them at a prototypic level. That’s extremely valuable for our partners. It’s a one-stop shop for them.”

Ballato served as the interim vice president for research and associate vice president for research and economic development, where he championed Clemson’s advanced materials related research and economic development. His achievements speak volumes, but this award may be the most meaningful. Ballato was chosen by his peers to represent the highest achievement of service to the University, the student body and the larger community.

As the 2013 winner of the Class of ‘39 Award, Ballato’s name will be engraved in stone next to 24 past winners. The Class of 1939 established the Award for Excellence in 1989 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the class and to recognize and inspire faculty service above and beyond expectations.

In March, President Clements announced that Ballato would take on additional duties as the University’s vice president for economic development.

Honoring Sacrifice

Clemson’s Air Force ROTC detachment gathered in March to send Lieutenant Colonel Tom von Kaenel on a 120-day bicycle journey to Juneau, Alaska, to raise awareness of the sacrifices of service members, veterans and their families since 9-11. Kaenel is the founder of Sea2Sea, a military nonprofit that organizes bicycling events across the country, partnering with other nonprofits and local organizations. During the memorial service held that day, Clemson cadets read the names of South Carolinians who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nanoparticles, Big Ideas

Apparao (Raja) Rao

Apparao (Raja) Rao

Although these images can easily be mistaken for abstract art, they are indeed high resolution transmission electron microscope images of unique nanostructures explored by R.A. Bowen Professor of Physics Apparao (RAJA) Rao and his team at the Clemson Nanomaterials Center.

The honeycomb-like structure (in purple) with rows of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal fashion forms the basis of a graphene layer — the quantum building block for buckyballs, carbon nanotubes and graphite. Supported by a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Rao and his team have begun to chip away at reinventing energy storage by developing a cost-effective and scalable way to produce carbon nanomaterials. While energy is one of the focus areas, Rao’s team is also working on understanding the fundamental implications of nanomaterials on the physiological response.

Shown in the image (orange) is a silver nanoparticle coated with serum albumin, whose modified structure could be used to generate nanoparticles that can deliver useful drugs without being engulfed by the immune system.