Challenger Learning Center at SC4 opens early registration for Mission Lunar Quest

St. Clair County Community College (SC4) is pleased to launch its Challenger Learning Center website and announce early mission registration opportunities for Michigan and Ontario students and educators, businesses and corporations, and community members.

SC4—in partnership with the Challenger Center, a nonprofit science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education organization, and in collaboration with Unity in Learning, which includes the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, the Leslie Science & Nature Center and the Yankee Air Museum—will officially launch its Challenger Learning Center on the College’s campus in Spring 2022.

The Challenger Learning Center at SC4 is the only Center of its kind in Michigan and one of 40 Centers nationwide and around the world. It is a fully immersive, space-themed, STEM experience aimed at deepening understanding and appreciation of STEM careers and topics and building critical 21st century skills. Challenger Center and its network of Challenger Learning Centers aim to ignite a passion for learning in students and open their eyes to new possibilities for the future. The Center offers unique learning and team-building opportunities for learners of all ages and unparalleled programming for 5th-8th grade learners (adaptable for 8th grade+) that aligns with national science standards.

Though the Challenger Learning Center at SC4 won’t officially launch until Spring 2022, early registration for the first space mission offering, Lunar Quest, is now open. Lunar Quest takes crew members, serving in a variety of STEM-based roles, to the Moon in search of a long-term human habitat. It is the first of four space missions that will take flight in the Challenger Learning Center at SC4. Half day (min. 18 guests/max. 35 guests) and full-day experiences (min. 36 guests/max. 70 guests) are available, and pricing varies based on mission experience.

“We’re thrilled to launch this website and open registration for those interested in reserving a mission experience,” said Dr. Deborah Snyder, president of St. Clair County Community College. “Our nation needs future leaders who are adept at understanding and solving the challenging problems of today and the future. The Challenger Learning Center at SC4 will help support STEM education, exploration and innovation with experiences that go far beyond an everyday field trip, outing or corporate training session.”

Additional opportunities such as a Galaxy Quest STEM Summer Camp will be available beginning in Summer 2022.

“We’re incredibly excited to see the momentum continue to build for the Challenger Learning Center at SC4,” said Lance Bush, president and CEO, Challenger Center. “We’re hard at work building the Spacecraft and preparing Mission Control to welcome students and community members to fly our newest space missions that we developed in partnership with NASA. The countdown has started and we can’t wait to open the doors of this new Center in 2022.”

Added Mel Drumm, president and CEO of Unity in Learning, “The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is delighted to collaborate with SC4 upon the opening of the new Challenger Center. This new informal learning experience will immerse each participant into life-like simulations well beyond anything previously available in Southeast Michigan. As the newest member of the region’s Unity in Learning collaborative, the Challenger Center will join with three regional science, nature and aviation organizations to become the region’s newest destination for hands-on discovery, exploration of the natural world and experiences that take flight.” 

Challenger Center was founded in 1986 in the aftermath of the Challenger accident by the crew’s families, who were firmly committed to carrying on the spirit of their loved ones and continuing the Challenger crew’s educational mission. Challenger Center and its network of Challenger Learning Centers have reached more than 5.5 million students worldwide.

For more information and to book a Lunar Quest mission, visit challenger.sc4.edu.

NASA learning experience inspires Robert Hilgendorf’s educational journey

St. Clair County Community College (SC4) alumnus Robert Hilgendorf had his sights set on graduation in his last semester at SC4 when a unique opportunity presented itself. In October 2020, he saw a campus announcement to students about the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program.

“Every time I logged in I saw the posting, I finally decided to research it,” said Hilgendorf. “Once I realized it not only was an opportunity to learn more about NASA but also work on developing my talents, I applied.”

Hilgendorf’s application was accepted and he participated in a five-week online NCAS course where he learned about the history of NASA and gained insight into future NASA initiatives. As part of the experience he attended meetings with NASA engineers and experts on topics ranging from mission launches to rover landings. “It was an eye-opening experience into how NASA’s work has impacted our life here on Earth,” continued Hilgendorf.

His favorite part of the course included details about the Artemis mission, which will return a United States crew to the Moon and eventually Mars. Hilgendorf stated, “It was amazing to see all the STEM-related disciplines required to develop and plan the mission.”

In March 2021, Hilgendorf was excited to learn that based upon his participation in the course and the final paper he submitted, he was selected to participate in a nine-day NASA virtual experience.

According to Hilgendorf, the virtual experience continued on from where the course left off. His daily calendar included speakers, intern panels, hangouts with engineers and mission meetings. Participants were divided into teams that were tasked with developing a successful mission to the Moon or Mars. Teams were responsible for defining missing goals and objectives; maintaining a balanced budget, projecting launch schedules; and specifying all systems, instruments and scientific payloads required.

Hilgendorf put his engineering degree to use as a systems engineer — in charge of rocket, surface mobility and entry/descent/landing selections. His team presented a successful mission to a panel of NASA judges.

”This experience is an invaluable resource for anyone unsure about how to reach their goals, wondering which STEM field to choose, or just not sure they can do it,” Hilgendorf said. “The program not only provides an incredible sense of accomplishment but helps develop the skills employers are looking for. I would definitely recommend it to others.”

The NCAS program provides experience, knowledge and networking opportunities that can become a foundation for a student’s future and career. NASA has an internship program that places a high value on applicants who’ve completed the NCAS program.

“When opportunities come your way, you must jump on them, and this is one you shouldn’t let pass by,” said Hilgendorf, who earned an Associate of Arts and Science in engineering technology-electronics in May 2021. “The NASA experience helped me solidify my education plans moving forward. Education is so important and truly opens doorways that would never become available without it.”

He is now planning to work on a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, thanks to his NCAS experience and the instructors at SC4.

”I cannot think of one single course or instructor at SC4 that didn’t help prepare me in one way for this program.” he said, noting that the skills gained in engineering technology, research, paper writing, public speaking, English, math, group projects and science labs all played a role in preparing him for the NASA experience and for his future career. “A special thanks to Instructor Dan Bishop and Professor Don Reuba, who took the time to write recommendation letters to apply to the NCAS program.”

If you are interested in learning more about STEM programs at SC4, visit sc4.edu/programs.

For more information on the aerospace scholars program, visit go.nasa.gov/ncas.


SC4’s Lambda Mu Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa receive awards

The national Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) recognized SC4’s Lambda Mu Chapter with the Distinguished College Project Award during PTK Catalyst 2021, the Society’s annual convention, which was broadcast live from Orlando, Florida, from April 8-10.

Only 51 of PTK’s chapters worldwide received the Distinguished College Project Award this year. The purpose of the College Project is to establish or strengthen a supportive relationship between the chapter and college administration. Lambda Mu’s project, “Tips for Success in Online Learning,” compiled online learning advice offered by SC4 faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The advice was edited into 30 “tips” and shared online.

Successful completion of the College Project is one of the criteria needed to be a Five-Star Chapter, a status the Lambda Mu Chapter maintained for the 2020-2021 academic year. Lambda Mu is also a REACH Chapter, which signifies a membership acceptance rate of over fifteen percent.

Additionally, the Blue Water Alumni Association (BWAA) was recognized as a Five-Star Alumni Association for 2020-2021. BWAA is the PTK alumni chapter for the St. Clair County area.

The Lambda Mu Chapter was also honored with the following awards at the PTK Michigan Regional Convention 2021, held virtually March 24 to 26:

  • Distinguished Chapter Officer Team – 3rd Runner Up: Tara Brown, Lisa Green, Lillian Nelson, Rachel Schmaltz
  • Honors in Action Theme 4 Award: Expressions of Truth – 1st Runner Up
  • College Project Award – 1st Runner Up
  • Angela Heiden, SC4 PTK Advisor, was honored for thirteen years of service

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, is the largest honor society in higher education with 1,285 chapters on college campuses in the United States and internationally. More than three million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 134,000 students inducted annually.

If you’d like to be a part of an award-winning chapter, both the Lambda Mu Chapter and the Blue Water Alumni Association are currently looking for new members and officers for the 2021-2022 academic year. Contact PTK Advisor Angela Heiden at aheiden@sc4.edu for details.

Time at SC4 prepared alumnus Lauren Tuckey for professional illustration career

For as long as she can remember, Lauren Tuckey has enjoyed drawing things. Now she’s enjoying seeing her work in print as the illustrator of her first children’s book.

After graduating from Yale High School in 2013, she chose to go to SC4 to save tuition costs and stay close to her family in Port Huron. While taking general education classes, Tuckey also took plenty of art classes on the side.

“In my art classes, I made many of my closest friends,” Tuckey said, “and was able to work on diverse art projects I wouldn’t have been able to do from home. I was featured in and worked on the annual Patterns book, too.”

She learned from her many talented art instructors, as well as other SC4 faculty, but has a special memory of one class that changed her approach to her art.

“Color and Design with Doug Frey was the most beneficial art class I took,” Tuckey explained. “He helped me step out of my comfort zone as an artist and explore techniques and styles that helped me sculpt the more well-rounded style I have now.”

After graduating from SC4, Tuckey had the chance to work with an author from North Carolina, Phil Routszong, to create illustrations for a children’s book titled Hobgoblin Humbug, which was published in October and is available for ordering through Amazon. She also stays busy illustrating custom portraits through her shop on Etsy.

Tuckey is a strong believer in the importance of community colleges.

“Colleges like SC4 are a great asset to students who want to save some money while still gaining a valuable education, experience, and great memories,” she said. “I’m thankful for everything SC4 equipped me with as I move forward as a professional illustrator.”

Photo: SC4 alumnus Lauren Tuckey (right) with author Phil Routszong and their book Hobgoblin Humbug.

SC4 inducts 63 students into its chapter of Phi Theta Kappa international honor society

St. Clair County Community College inducted 63 students from communities across the region into its Lambda Mu chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society during a virtual ceremony on Friday, Dec. 11.

Phi Theta Kappa is a premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of community college students to grow as scholars and leaders. The society is made up of more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 10 countries.

SC4’s Lambda Mu chapter of Phi Theta Kappa was chartered in April 1961. Since its beginning, the chapter has received numerous honors, including recognition as the top U.S. chapter at Phi Theta Kappa’s International Convention in 2000.

“When you join Phi Theta Kappa, you join the largest honor society in the world,” said Angela Heiden, Lambda Mu chapter advisor. “Phi Theta Kappa is so much more than just an honor society. It is a chance for students to gain leadership skills, earn scholarships and give back to their community.”

The fall 2020 inductees to the Lambda Mu chapter of Phi Theta Kappa are:

  • Savannah Adkins — Port Huron
  • Payton Aiello — St. Clair
  • Ashlyn Albert — Fort Gratiot
  • Dylan Albert — Fort Gratiot
  • Jade Anderson — Imlay City
  • Hellena Banner — Port Huron
  • Brent Baysinger — St. Clair
  • Lydia Bonney — Fort Gratiot
  • Gabrielle Borneman — Marine City
  • Elizabeth Bowen — Clay Township
  • Mikayla Cameron — St. Clair
  • Erica Chesney — Wales Township
  • Jennifer Chilcutt — Warren
  • Faith Chmielewski — Port Huron
  • George Clark — Casco Township
  • John Criger — St. Clair
  • Erica Devigili — Marysville
  • Melissa Dunsmore — Yale
  • Darien Durette — Kimball Township
  • Ricki Edwards — Port Huron
  • Daniel Ferrone — East China Township
  • Ashlynn Fistler — Mussey Township
  • Brian Frederick — Port Huron
  • Jenna Graham — Clay Township
  • Kylie Grambau — Port Huron
  • Camryn Griffith — Kenockee Township
  • John Heffner — Riley Township
  • Ashley Howard — Fair Haven
  • Rebecca Jar — Marlette
  • Tanya Keefe — Port Huron
  • Jordan Kelly — Emmett Township
  • Stephanie Kluger — Mussey Township
  • Nolan Lacey — Burtchville Township
  • Shelly Lander — Port Huron
  • Kathryn Lozowski — Emmett Township
  • James Majeski — St. Clair
  • John Majeski — St. Clair
  • Katie Marcero — Clyde Township
  • Christene Marcum — New Haven
  • Austin Milutin — Port Huron
  • McKenna Mullen — Kimball Township
  • Dominique Perreault — Imlay City
  • Ryan Peters — Wales Township
  • Tara Peters — Wales Township
  • Matthew Pohlman — Emmett Township
  • Kelly Prososki — Burtchville Township
  • Lauryn Roff — Kimball Township
  • Anna Ross — Imlay City
  • Jessica Ruckman — Snover
  • Tosha Sabbagh — Clay Township
  • Vincenza Scrima — Sterling Heights
  • Lawrence Skotzke — Fort Gratiot
  • Steven Sly — Berlin Township
  • Peyton Stein — Fort Gratiot
  • Gianna Swain — Memphis
  • Hanna Teeple — Fort Gratiot
  • Jenna Titcombe — Brown City
  • Selena Torrez — Croswell
  • Milissa Trombley — Memphis
  • Daria Vaughan — New Haven
  • Amaya Williams — Fort Gratiot
  • Reagan Williams — Port Huron
  • Jennifer Winkler — Kimball Township

Video Virtual Series with PTM Corp.

SC4’s Bonnie DiNardo, director of community and alumni relations, speaks with John Tucker from PTM Corporation about job opportunities available at their location.

PTM Corporation has been producing metal stampings since 1972 and is a full-service, metal stamping supplier with expert engineers, state-of-the-art CAD systems and world-class tooling facilities.

PTM is a world-class partner for all prototype and production needs. PTM specializes in design assistance, prototyping, four slide and progressive die design/building and short/long term production requirements.

PTM has many positions available at their facility for interested students and alumni. Watch the interview and then check out SC4’s Career Coach for available job opening.

The SC4 Community and Alumni Relations team is hosting a new virtual series with area employers about available opportunities for our students, alumni and community.

Video Virtual Series with ZF

SC4’s Bonnie DiNardo, director of community and alumni relations, speaks with Kim Korttila from ZF Marysville about job opportunities available at their location.

ZF is a global technology company and supplies systems for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and industrial technology, enabling the next generation of mobility. 

ZF has many positions available in their Marysville location for interested students and alumni. Watch the interview and then check out SC4’s Career Coach for available job openings.

The SC4 Community and Alumni Relations team is hosting a new virtual series with area employers about available opportunities for our students, alumni and community.

National Respiratory Care Week at SC4

Respiratory therapists have demanding responsibilities related to patient care and are a vital component of the health care team.

The respiratory therapy program at St. Clair County Community College uses an integration of classroom and practicum experiences in hospitals, outpatient testing facilities and physician offices.

Respiratory therapy is not the most popular choice in the healthcare field, but it’s one of the most important careers when it comes to taking care of critically ill patients.

“I teach at SC4 to educate, train, and produce competent, skilled and confident future respiratory therapists,” said instructor Tami Stafford. “With the implementation of the state-of-the-art clinical simulation lab, the students are able to experience real-life patient scenarios where they must critically think and are challenged to make clinical decisions based on a patient by patient case.”

This week, students took their classroom learning into the lab to complete a “Mock Code” patient care scenario. All students in the program must be certified in Basic Life Support and must be able to competently perform all skills needed in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The mock code scenario is a replica of a patient requiring CPR, which is directed and run by Dr. Michael Basha, SC4 Respiratory Therapy Medical Director.

“This scenario allows the students to apply the skills they have learned, understand the roles of everyone involved in this type of situation, including the physician, respiratory therapists and nurses,” said Stafford. Students are trained and must perform the procedure required for establishing an artificial airway, which includes clinical skills of bag-mask ventilation, intubation, securing the airway and assessing the patient. “This scenario brings it all together, so the students see how everyone works together as a team.”

Students graduating from the program receive an Associate in Applied Arts and Science degree and become eligible to take the National Board of Respiratory Care (NBRC) credentialing examinations. With successful completion of the program, students can work in adult, pediatric and neonatal intensive care units, emergency rooms, labor and delivery, regular nursing floors, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, diagnostic testing, and home care.

Once the students successfully complete this program, they will have over 1,000 hours of live clinical experience in a variety of hospital settings which gives them a well-rounded experience in all areas of the profession. “I love watching the students’ growth throughout the semesters and how they sometimes impress and surprise themselves by what they have learned and what they know how to do,” said Stafford.

This week is also recognized as National Respiratory Care Week. To show appreciation, students sent gift bags of full of individually wrapped “Lifesavers” to all the respiratory therapists and hospitals that support the SC4 Respiratory Therapy Program. Over 300 bags were made and distributed to respiratory therapists who work the front lines at Ascension St. John River District Hospital, Garden City Hospital, Henry Ford Hospital Detroit, Lake Huron Medical Center, Marlette Regional Hospital, McLaren Macomb, McLaren Port Huron, and McKenzie Health System.

SC4 is a pioneer in health sciences education and offers a wide-array of in-demand program and certificate options. To learn more about the SC4 respiratory therapy program and other health sciences programs, visit our website at sc4.edu/health.

Students overcome online lab limitations

Students in Professor Carrie Dollar’s BIO 272 class recently completed their own blood typing tests at home. Even though COVID-19 has presented challenges to our faculty and students, learning is continuing!

Longtime SC4 Professor James Jones honored with national AACC award

St. Clair County Community College Professor of Criminal Justice James Jones has been awarded the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) 2020 Dale P. Parnell Faculty Distinction Recognition for his work in making a difference in the classroom.

As a Faculty Distinction recipient, Jones will be recognized on the AACC Faculty Wall of Distinction, on the AACC website and at AACC’s 100th Annual Convention in March, where he will be honored with a private reception.

“Jim has devoted his life to giving back to others, and we are thrilled to congratulate him on this prestigious award,” said SC4 President Dr. Deborah A. Snyder. “His dedication to the success of SC4’s criminal justice program is admirable as is his devotion to ensuring that his students gain hands-on knowledge and experience with criminal situations and scenarios.”

Jones has been teaching at SC4 since 1997 both as an adjunct instructor and a full-time professor. In addition to his full-time teaching, he also serves as a part-time police officer with the Marine City Police Department. Jones previously served as a full-time officer for the Port Huron Police Department for 28 years.

At SC4, he organizes off-campus learning experiences for students, including visits to the city of Detroit to shadow the Detroit Police Department on ride-alongs. He also is actively engaged in other college activities as well, including leading and serving on event, recruitment and curriculum committees.

According to Snyder, Jones is known for going out of his way to ensure that his students succeed and complete their goals.