Monday, September 21, 2015

Three UTRGV Teams made it to The Space Grant Consortium Design Challenge

Congratulations to the 3 teams that made it to the 2015 Design Challenge Teams by the Texas Space Grant Consortium. The teams are:


Intelligent Lighting Control System, Semester I of II
Department Represented: Engineering Physics
Team: Angelica Cortez*, Alberto E. Vilano Reyna, Aaron Barrera, Christian Yair Miranda Solis, Andrea Karina Martinez, Diana Mendoza Ramirez, Miguel Angel Payns Villalobos
Faculty Advisor: Yong Zhou
Mentored By: George Salazar, NASA JSC


Mars Drill Design And Automation, Semester I of II
Department Represented: Mechanical Engineering / Computer Engineering
Team: Raul Alberto Espinosa Perez*, Yeznith Del Pilar Gutierrez, Jorge Eduardo Lecea, Silvia Fabiola Perez Hinojosa
Faculty Advisor: Yong Zhou
Mentored By: Dr. Hum Mandell, University of Texas Center for Space Research


Intelligent Lighting Control System, Semester I of II
Department Represented: Mechanical Engineering
Team: Christian Feliciano*, Mario Alonso, Aaron Millan, Israel Vasquez
Faculty Advisor: Yong Zhou
Mentored By: James P. Smith, NASA JSC


About the Design Challenge

Sponsored by NASA and administered by the Texas Space Grant Consortium, since Fall 2002, the TSGC DESIGN CHALLENGE is a unique academic experience offering undergraduate students an opportunity to propose, design and fabricate a solution to a topic of importance to NASA and its mission.

DESIGN CHALLENGE topics are submitted by researchers working with NASA or its contractor community on current projects of interest. Student teams work on the topic of their choice over the course of one or two semesters. The overall experience pairs the student team and faculty advisor with a research-directed mentor; and provides student team members with an opportunity to engage in scientific research, hands-on design, space-related career opportunities, meeting presentation and educational outreach.

As DESIGN CHALLENGE teams progress through a series of Levels and Option Areas, they are involved in taking a real-world research topic of interest from the idea-stage to an actual workable design.

Because progress is team-directed, the overall program is able to accommodate a variety of design sequences taught in institutions of higher learning throughout the State of Texas [one-semester design, two-semester design, design and build, etc.]. Six team-directed increments [BASE, three specific design Levels, and two Option Areas] allow teams to decide how far they will take the design initiative while accumulating funds to support the team's effort. Up to two teams per year per institution will be fully-funded to participate - based upon availability of projects and funding.

Monetary awards are made available to individual teams upon satisfactory completion of design Levels. Teams are also eligible to receive travel grant funds to support team travel to the end of semester Design Challenge Showcase and assist student-members with off-campus learning, site visits, outreach ventures or meeting participation.

Read more at TSGC.UTEXAS.EDU

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Anton Kovalyov Eliminated Grandmaster Sandro Mareco in the Second Round of the 2015 World Chess Cup

Anton Kovalyov, UTRGV junior majoring in computer science, has eliminated a grandmaster Sandro Mareco from Argentina in the second round of the 2015 World Chess Cup taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan.

In the first game with black pieces Anton opted for a solid opening and firmly defended.
The second game was way more complicated. Anton gave 3 pieces to win a queen. Before the opponent managed to coordinate the pieces, Anton started an attack and succeed with it.

In the third round Anton is paired against a grandmaster Fabiano Caruana, who is currently rated 5th on the world’s rating list. Caruana was born in the US, then moved to Europe and represented Italy, but recently has come back to his original US federation.

The UTRGV Chess Coach, Bartek Macieja, provided the following statement:

Caruana is an extremely strong opponent with many interesting new opening ideas. His technique is phenomenal. However if Anton succeeds in obtaining dynamic complicated positions, his chances will visibly increase.
Similarly to the first match against ex-world champion Rustam Kasimdzanov, due to differences in styles Anton’s chances of success will keep increasing with every tie-break and the reduction of time control.

The qualification to the 2015 World Chess Cup was the biggest achievement an UTB/UTPA/UTRGV student has ever had in any sport officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Defeating ex-world champion in the first round set the bar even higher. Now, by qualifying to Round 3 Anton set a new record.

The 2015 World Chess Cup is an official part of the 2014-2016 World Chess Championship Cycle.

Official website:
There are 128 players, including 3 ex-world champions. Anton Kovalyov qualified to that prestigious event from the 2015 Continental Chess Championship, where he shared for the 3rd place.

The winner and the runner up of the World Cup 2015 will qualify to the Candidates stage of the World Championship cycle 2014 - 2016.

The Candidates Tournament to determine the challenger for the 2016 World Chess Championship Match shall be organized in the first quarter of 2016. Eight (8) players will participate in the Candidates Tournament and the winner qualifies for the World Chess Championship Match in the last quarter of 2016.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Local master’s programs ranked in top 10 nationwide by Washington Monthly

Story by Gail Fagan

EDINBURG, TEXAS – SEPT. 11, 2015 – For the fourth consecutive year, Washington Monthly has ranked The University of Texas-Pan American – a UTRGV legacy institution – as one of the leading master’s institutions nationwide.

In its 2015 Best Master’s Universities Rankings, released Aug. 24, UTPA ranked No. 10 out of the 673 public and private universities evaluated in this year’s rankings. (UTPA rose from a No. 19 ranking last year among 671 schools evaluated in the 2014 Best Master’s Universities Rankings.)

That push for excellence in higher education now will continue, as UTPA’s programs are part of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s curricula.
Dr. Dave Jackson, interim dean of UTRGV’s Graduate College, said the administration is pleased that Washington Monthly has recognized the university as being one of the best graduate schools in the nation.
“We strive to focus on students in the Rio Grande Valley – an area that has been traditionally underserved – by offering a wide range of graduate programs taught by some of the highest quality faculty,” he said.

UTRGV, which offers 56 master’s and 4 doctoral programs, has among its guiding principles the goal of providing graduate education of the highest quality, while being affordable, accessible and innovative, he said.

“Our students are actively encouraged to give back to their communities through a variety of community-based organizations, and are recognized for scholastic achievements, as well as contributions to the arts and the community in general,” Jackson said.

Graduate student Carlos Molina, 23, says that after getting his bachelor’s degree in mass communication in the advertising and public relations track in 2013 from UTPA, he chose to pursue his master’s degree in communication studies there because of its affordability and supportive faculty.

“I knew the great experience that I had here as an undergraduate would continue,” said Molina, who interned this summer in New York City with McCann Erickson, one of the world’s largest advertising agencies.

“The professors here are very helpful, they are willing to help you outside the classroom,” Molina said. “I also knew UTPA was going to become The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and if I stayed here I would be part of something great.” 


Washington Monthly is a bimonthly magazine based in Washington, D.C., covering politics, government, culture and the media. These annual rankings are intended to measure each school’s contribution to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students); research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and awarding doctoral degrees); and service (encouraging students to give back to their country).
Their survey includes universities’ predicted and annual graduate rates; percentage of low-income students receiving financial aid; the percentage of all students who join the Peace Corps or ROTC or engage in other community service; and the number of faculty receiving significant awards and election to national academies.

“We chuck the U.S. News-validated idea that the ‘best’ schools are the ones that spend the most money, exclude the most students, and impress a small circle of elites … we rank four-year colleges in America on three measures that would make the whole system better. If only schools would compete on them,” the editors wrote in their introduction to this year’s rankings.
Washington Monthly also described the ranked institutions as serving as “workhorse institutions of American higher education, providing affordable degrees with strong ties to regional economies.”

In their issue announcing the 2015 rankings, Washington Monthly states that the methodology used this year to rank higher-education institutions was based on the use of the three most recent years of data, instead of the most recent year of data used previously.
The only other Texas school ranking higher than UTPA was Trinity University. Valparaiso University in Indiana ranked No. 1.

To see a complete list of rankings, go to the 2015 Washington Monthly College Rankings. To learn more about the graduate programs offered at UTRGV, go the Graduate College website

UTRGV hosts first Critical Issues in Leadership Conference

By Jennifer L. Berghom

EDINBURG, TEXAS – SEPT. 11, 2015 – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley knows a thing or two about change, and its leaders want to help area school districts navigate the changes they may experience.

UTRGV’s College of Education and P-16 Initiatives opened its first Critical Issues in Leadership Conference on Friday, Sept. 11, at the Community Engagement and Student Success Building in Edinburg. (The conference is set to conclude on Saturday, Sept. 12.)
Throughout the conference, more than 60 administrators from school districts throughout the Valley heard from UTRGV faculty, who discussed best practices for leading during times of transition and change. They also participated in group activities and discussions.

In his welcoming remarks, UTRGV Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Havidán Rodríguez gave educators a history of UTRGV and its plans to become an emerging research institution that will increase educational opportunities and commit to student success.

For the new university to be successful, it needs to form strong partnerships with local school districts, he said.

“When we think about UTRGV, it is about creating communities and building partnerships,” Rodríguez said. “This is what P-16 integration is all about. There will be partnerships, creating communities, between the university and K through 12, because that is … the only way we are going to be successful. And, more importantly, it is the only way our students in the Rio Grande Valley are going to be successful.”

Educators who attended the conference said they were excited about the changes in higher education in the Valley and look forward to continuing their partnerships with UTRGV.

Michael Sanchez, head of the mathematics department at Weslaco East High School and a UTPA alumnus, said he is excited to see more opportunities for students in South Texas.

“The Valley is a very unique place when it comes to our students, and since UTRGV is here, we’re hoping that we can have a better focus and can better serve our students,” he said.

Cynthia Ramos, the Lasara Independent School District’s coordinator for curriculum and instruction and federal programs, and a UTPA alumna, said she is heartened by the commitment UTRGV has made to all the school districts, big and small.

“We don’t have to go far to be who we want to be, and our dreams can come true no matter where we want to go,” Ramos said.

The Lasara district has fewer than 500 students, according to 2014 data from the Texas Education Agency, so she’s excited about UTRGV’s interest.

“We have somewhere that will support us, and will actually guide us to where we need to be,” Ramos said.

“Exploring the Future, Leading Change.”

Posted by The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Friday, September 11, 2015

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Three UTRGV events to commemorate Sept. 11

EDINBURG & BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – SEPT. 11, 2015 – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley will hold three events to remember Sept. 11, 2001, a day in U.S. history that changed our lives forever.

On this national day of remembrance, UTRGV salutes the sacrifices of the men and women who lost their lives in the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in the field in Pennsylvania.

The events are open to students, faculty and staff. The Brownsville event also is open to veterans and their dependents from both campuses.

Third Annual 9/11 5K: “Taking Steps to Never Forget.”

This walk/run event is from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 11, on the Edinburg Campus.
Starting line is at the flagpole in front of the Student Services Building.
It is open to UTRGV students, faculty and staff. For more information or special accommodations, contact CPT Brian J. Hutchinson at (956) 665-3610.

Remembrance Event, in conjunction with Texas Southmost College

This event starts at 7:30 a.m. on the Brownsville Campus.
Participants will meet at the flagpole in front of Gorgas Hall, TSC.
It is open to UTRGV students, faculty and staff, and to veterans and their dependents on both campuses. For more information or special accommodations, contact Martin Rodriguez at (956) 882-4297.

Adorn and Remember

Student Involvement invites you to sign a Remembrance Banner to commemorate the lives of the nearly 3,000 lives lost that day. 
Edinburg Campus: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Chapel of the Lord’s Prayer 
Brownsville Campus: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Student Union Lawn 

For more information or special accommodations, contact Student Involvement at (956) 665-2660.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Vaqueros enjoy a hotdog and a handshake at Brownsville Picnic with the President

Story by Cheryl Taylor

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – SEPT. 3, 2015 – Students began pouring into El Gran Salón as soon as the doors opened at 11:30 a.m. for the Best Week Ever’s Picnic with The President.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley launch celebration continued on Thursday, Sept. 3, in the Student Union, where a steady stream of visitors filed in for free food, souvenir Best Week Ever keychains, and UTRGV T-shirts and bandanas. The Edinburg Campus Picnic with The President was held on Tuesday, Sept. 2.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey and members of his administrative staff donned white UTRGV aprons to serve chips, hotdogs and cool drinks to long lines of hungry students.

After two hours, Bailey had handed out about 900 hotdogs, greeting students and asking them questions about their studies.

“I’m having the time of my life,” Bailey said over the loud music. “This is one of the things I enjoy so much – being with students, learning where they’re from and what they are majoring in.”

Bailey credits his late wife Jan with having the idea for a picnic event back in 2007.

“It started in when we were at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, and we did it at Texas Tech University in Lubbock,” he said. “It is always very popular. And it gives me a chance to meet some of the students, so I’m delighted to be here.”

Ray Zuniga, a freshman biomedical sciences major, came to the Brownsville Campus, where biomedical studies classes and labs are located, as he has done over the past three days, on the shuttle from Edinburg, where he lives.

“Dr. Bailey seems very welcoming and friendly. This is a nice event for students,” said Zuniga, an ROTC student who hopes to continue on to a master’s degree in biomedical engineering before entering the military.

“Also, today’s event is another way for me to become familiar with this campus. I already know the Edinburg campus because I took classes there while in high school.”

Ann Jacobo, a junior government and communications major, has a busy semester ahead of her. She just began an internship in the office of Texas Rep. Eddie Lucio III, and next week starts a job with AmeriCorps, working at a Brownsville high school to encourage students to continue on to college and helping with their applications.

“Given we were faced with a transition and lots of changes, I think having something like this picnic is a great way for the administration to reach out to students and show their support,” Jacobo said. “I’ve met Dr. Bailey before, and I enjoyed shaking his hand again today. And once again, I found him to be friendly and approachable.”

At a table of Veterans Upward Bound students, Armando Leon said Dr. Bailey made a good first impression with him.

“This is a good way to start off the semester, with the students, showing that he’s approachable,” said Leon, who joined the Army when he finished high school at the age of 17. After six months at Fort Carson, Colorado, Leon was the youngest in his unit when he was deployed to Iraq with the 4th Infantry Division.

A senior in the UTeach program, Leon will graduate with his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and certification to teach math in grades 8-12.

A popular spot inside El Gran Salón was the photo table, where students lined up to have their pictures taken and, in a matter of seconds, their photos were processed and sealed into keychains with built-in flashlights.

Students wrote their hopes and dreams on the portable WE WILL walls, set up next to the table where Student Involvement staffers stayed busy throughout the two-hour picnic, handing out T-shirts and bandanas. The WE WILL T-shirts commemorate the first week of classes, dubbed Best Week Ever.

The picnic spilled outside, with more music, fun and games. Representatives from student organizations talked to students about activities and community service projects. Student Involvement engaged students in games to win $50 V-bucks cards, good for purchases at the dining hall and the bookstore.

UTRGV’s Best Week Ever continues through Friday, Sept. 4, with more student activities and events. For more information, call the UTRGV Student Involvement Office at 956-665-2660 (Edinburg) or 956-882-5111 (Brownsville).

Dr. Bailey said he was happy to kick start this tradition for the university during Best Week Ever festivities, calling...

Posted by The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Thursday, September 3, 2015

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

UTRGV Picnic with the President, Brownsville Campus, Thursday Sep 03, 11:30AM to 1:30PM

Media Advisory

WHAT: UTRGV Picnic with the President, Brownsville Campus

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 3

WHERE: El Gran Salón, Student Union, Ridgley Road

Guy Bailey, president of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, invites all students to gather for a festive hot dog picnic, as part of Best Week Ever, celebrating the first week of UTRGV.

Bailey will serve up the hot dogs, giving him an opportunity to personally introduce himself and meet as many students as possible.

The Edinburg Campus had its Picnic with the President on Tuesday, Sept. 1, where Bailey handed out more than 1,500 hot dogs along with chips and drinks.

Student Involvement staff will be giving out T-shirts, key chains and other items.

For more information, call the Brownsville campus Student Involvement office at 956-882-5111.

UTRGV to host its first Critical Issues Leadership Conference, Sept. 11-12

  • WHAT: Critical Issues Leadership Conference
  • WHEN: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, and Saturday, Sept. 12
  • WHERE: UTRGV Community Engagement and Student Success Building
                  1407 E. Freddy Gonzalez Drive, Edinburg, Room 1.300
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s College of Education and P-16 Integration will bring together leaders from school districts throughout the Valley to explore trends and issues in education, at its inaugural Critical Issues Leadership Conference.

The conference will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, and Saturday, Sept. 12, at UTRGV’s Community Engagement and Student Success Building, 1407 E. Freddy Gonzalez Drive, Edinburg (at Freddy Gonzalez Drive and I-69C/U.S. Hwy. 281).

Dr. Patricia M. Alvarez McHatton

The theme is “Exploring the Future, Leading Change.”

This year’s conference speakers include UTRGV Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, and administrators and faculty from the College of Education and P-16 Integration, including the new dean, Dr. Patricia M. Alvarez McHatton.

For more information, visit If you plan to tweet during the conference, use the hashtag #LeadConference.

The Stomp, fireworks to highlight close of UTRGV’s first day

By Jennifer L. Berghom

EDINBURG, TEXAS – SEPT. 1, 2015 – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley capped off its first day of classes Monday with its signature event, The Stomp.

The Stomp brought together UTRGV and the community at large to celebrate the beginning of the new university with music, food and other entertainment.

More than 2,000 people gathered at the Health and Physical Education (HPE) Track and Field on the Edinburg Campus, where they visited roughly 100 booths staffed by various student organizations, university departments and local businesses.

The Brownsville campus was forced to postpone its Stomp celebration for a later date due to severe weather.

Sisters Laura and Veronica Gonzalez stopped by The Stomp in Edinburg to see what was going on.

“I think it’s fun that we’re getting all this free swag,” Laura said.

An Edinburg resident and a senior majoring in English, Laura did not attend first-day events that The University of Texas-Pan American had hosted, but she wanted to check out The Stomp because of all the buzz about the new university.

“I thought it was cool that we’re going to be so major, so big. And I know that we’re already part of the UT System, but a major part of it now especially with the medical school,” she said. “Plus, my sister is a freshman, so I’m kind of like, we have to do everything!”

Veronica said she likes being a part of the #FirstClass and is enjoying her newfound freedom in college.

“I can just hang out by myself and it’s not weird,” she said.

Pedro Rangel, a member of UTRGV’s spirit team who is working on his master’s degree in social work, said he thought The Stomp was a good new tradition for a new university.

“I think it’s a great way to encourage and empower Vaquero pride, school pride, here on campus,” said Rangel, who earned his bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Brownsville.

Rangel was a student at UTB when that university changed its mascot from the Scorpion to the Ocelot, and already was a student at UTPA when the UTRGV transition began. He has been impressed by this recent transition.

“Our first year, I think, has been great,” he said. “You see Vaquero pride everywhere … the transition has been overwhelming, like a roller coaster, but I think that overall it’s been a great way to start the new institution.”

Throughout the evening, students collected free keepsakes and played games at the tables vendors had set up along the track. The Spazmatics, an ’80s cover band, entertained from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The night closed with a festive fireworks display.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

UTRGV president serves up lunch to more than 1,000 Vaqueros

Story by Melissa Vasquez
EDINBURG, TEXAS – SEPT. 1, 2015 – Guy Bailey, founding president of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, donned an apron and served up hot dogs, chips and drinks to UTRGV students at his inaugural Picnic with the President on the second day of classes.

Students filed into the Ballroom on Tuesday, Sept. 1, at the Edinburg Campus, to grab some free grub, which had to be replenished with hamburgers when the 1,500 hot dogs disappeared in less than an hour.
Picnic with the President also will be held for students on the Brownsville Campus at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, at the Gran Salon.
UTRGV, the first public university in Texas in the 21st century, opened Monday, Aug. 31, with 29,045 students, 4,000 of them entering freshmen, on both the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses.

Bailey said he was happy to kick start this tradition for the university during Best Week Ever festivities, calling it an opportunity to meet as many new Vaqueros as possible.
“I’ve been doing this for students for a very long time,” said Bailey, who credits his late wife Jan with having the idea for a picnic event back in 2007. “It started in Kansas City (University of Missouri–Kansas City) almost 10 years ago, and we did it in Lubbock (Texas Tech University). It is always very popular. And it gives me a chance to meet some of the students, so I’m delighted to be here.”
Asked what advice he was dishing up for students coming through the line to be served, he said, “Go to class.”
Overall, Bailey said, UTRGV’s opening days have gone well and he looks forward to a great year.
“We had normal glitches, like every university has, but I was very pleased,” he said.
Bailey wasn’t the only university leader to don a white UTRGV apron to serve students.  He was joined by some members of his administrative team: Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs; Dr. Janna Arney, vice president for Operations and his chief of staff; Veronica Gonzales, vice president for Governmental and Community Relations; Martin Baylor, executive vice president for Finance and Administration; Dr. Kelly Cronin, vice president for Institutional Advancement; Dr. Theresa Maldonado, senior vice president for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development; and Dr. Kristin Croyle, vice president for Student Success – helped Bailey serve lunch to about 1,500 students before they headed back to class.
“It is such an honor to give back to the students,” Arney said. “They have had a stressful first day and second day. For many of them, it’s their first time in college. So we thought, what is better than a free meal? And what better way to meet them than to serve them.”
Also on the serving line and greeting students were Alberto Adame, inaugural president of the UTRGV Student Government Association, and Justin Drake, the newly appointed University of Texas System student regent, who toured the UTRGV campuses in Brownsville and Edinburg on Tuesday.
Sophomores Melissa Duran, a nursing major from San Benito, and Alexis Martinez, an English major from Donna, were on their way to get some lunch at the dining hall when they realized the president’s picnic was happening next door in the Ballroom. Duran said they did not want to pass up the opportunity to meet him.
“He asked me about my major and where I was from. He was really nice and humble,” Duran said.
Martinez, who hopes to ace her classes this semester, said meeting President Bailey was the highlight of her day.
“He was very friendly,” she said. “He even told me that, since I was an English major, not to worry. It will not be so hard.”
As upbeat music blasted loudly across the Quad, the Student Involvement Office distributed lots of UTRGV goodies – T-shirts, bandanas and key chains – and held a student organization fair. Games, music and two shaved ice food trucks were parked outside the Ballroom for students to enjoy a cool treat on a hot day.
UTRGV’s Best Week Ever continues through Friday, Sept. 4, with more student activities and events. For more information, call the UTRGV Student Involvement Office at 956-665-2660 (Edinburg) or 956-882-5111 (Brownsville).
UTRGV VIDEO LINK: Picnic with the President

#BestWeekEver #FirstClass #UTRGV

Posted by The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday, September 1, 2015