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Foundation awards three Venture Grants

May 3, 2011

The NIU Foundation Venture Grants program supports faculty and staff in their pursuit of excellence in teaching, research and outreach to the larger community.

Funds are awarded each fiscal year through a competitive application process and recipients are chosen by the NIU Foundation Grants Committee.

This year, three Venture Grants were awarded, totaling $35,000.

Huskie Enterprise in Leadership and Philanthropy (HELP)

Judy Santacaterina, Kate Braser, Betsy Hendrey and Dana Gautcher

Judy Santacaterina, Kate Braser, Betsy Hendrey and Dana Gautcher

HELP is an innovative, interdisciplinary project which aims to develop civic engagement in high-performing Illinois high school students, recruit these high-performing students to NIU and cultivate the understanding and spirit of philanthropy.

HELP will utilize the expertise of the NIU Honors Program, the Office of Student Academic Success and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

The project coordinators include Kate Braser (project coordinator for the University Honors Program), Dana Gautcher (director of the Office of Student Academic Success) and Judy Santacaterina (director of the Bachelor of General Studies program in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences).

Application materials for eligible high school students are available online.

The deadline for applications has been extended to Monday, May 9.

Engaging Student Learning through Highly Interactive Virtual Environments in the 21st Century (HIVEs)

Aline Click and Lilly Lu

Aline Click and Lilly Lu

By providing two immersive virtual learning environments (virtual world and video games), HIVEs seeks to engage the digital generation in responding to social issues by creating visual artifacts for digital storytelling in both formal and informal learning settings.

Through creating, interacting, role-playing and collaborating, students will present their stories about social issues and invite the global audiences to “experience” and “participate” in the stories in the virtual environments.

The project coordinators are Lilly Lu (assistant professor in the School of Art, Division of Art Education) and Aline Click (assistant director for NIU’s eLearning Services and co-director of the Digital Convergence Lab).

Exploring Earthly Realms for Humanity’s Future: A Data Acquisition and Management System for NIU’s Robotic Submarine

Ross Powell

Ross Powell

“Earthly Realms” will utilize the awarded funding in the design and development of hardware and software management protocols used for the data acquisition, management and storage system of NIU’s robotic submarine.

This robotic submarine will explore a sub glacial environment in Antarctica under the floating Ross Ice Shelf, approximately the size of Texas.

About 2,500 feet below the ice lie never-before-explored realms critical to our understanding of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and its effect on global sea levels.

The project has the potential to provide unparalleled opportunities to highlight the use of innovative technology that NIU is developing. In addition, it directly involves NIU’s students in a wide array of high level research opportunities.

The project coordinator is Ross Powell (Board of Trustees Professor and Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences).

Video footage of the Earthly Realms project is available online.