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Stem students

Four Columbus State students spent a Summer at the Edge – and they're back to talk about it.

The students took part in Summer at the Edge, a summer program at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base sponsored by the Air Force. The program is intended to spur interest in science careers, recruit budding scientists for Air Force research, and help out with research around the base.

It's an opportunity for Columbus State students to do graduate-level research while they're still freshmen and sophomores, said student Dawn Musil. Next, they'll present their research projects at a Maker Faire at COSI in September and the TEDx Columbus event in October.

The four students are Max Mraz, Katie Zellmer, Dawn Musil and Michael Junker (who has since transferred to Ohio State University).


All four students are in the Future Scientists of Ohio program, which recruits students for careers in the STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math & Medical) fields. The program offers a full-ride scholarship for two years at Columbus State and a possibility of further scholarships if you transfer to Ohio State. They're also taking part in the Preferred Pathway®, which allows Columbus State students to "pre-major" in the field they plan to study when they transfer.

During Summer at the Edge, Musil and Zellmer synthesized gold nanoparticles and helped develop a computer program to teach the principles of nanotechnology. But they were most excited about their mini-project from the end of the summer: building a table of ferrofluids (metallic liquid) that responds to a piano keyboard, dancing to magnetic music.

"I don't know if you've ever seen ferrofluids, but they're really cool," Musil says.

Mraz worked on a "3D Music Box." The name for the project was suggested by their supervisor, Dr. Rob Williams – but it was up to the students to determine what a "3D Music Box" is.

They hacked a Kinect, a motion-capture Xbox controller, and wrote a program to translate motion into music. They studied popular songs to get the chord progression down right.

"We sort of got to go wherever we wanted with it," Mraz says. "We wanted to have the music dancing along with you."

The students' excitement about science and engineering is easy to see. Gathering again in September, they chatted about using ferrofluids to burn out cancer, then talk turned to scavenging materials for rafts and building pumpkin catapults.

Columbus State is a great place to start your career in the sciences. Students can get a two-year Associate of Arts/Associate of Science degree, which fulfills the first two years of a bachelor's degree, then transfer to a four-year school to finish up. And with the Preferred Pathway® program, it's easier than ever to transfer to Ohio State.