It took School of Education administrators three years to bring Steven Barlow to Syracuse to chair the Communication Sciences and Disorders (CS&D) Program. According to Dean Steven Bossert, the speech and hearing specialist was worth the wait. Barlow, who assumed his new position in August, already has prompted exciting new collaborations with the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science and the SUNY Health Science Center.
      "It was an incredible coup to attract Steven Barlow to the School of Education," Bossert says. "He brings tremendous energy and excitement to our teaching and research programs. As the new CS&D chair, he'll lead the department to even higher levels of accomplishment and recognition, especially in understanding the neural science of speech."
      Nationally known for his neurophysiological research at Indiana University, Barlow was drawn to the diverse array of biomedical research resources in Syracuse. "The proximity of the health science center was of particular interest," he says. "My research program at Indiana concentrated almost exclusively on basic science, working with normally developing children and adults. For any clinical studies, we had to travel outside the university. There is a medical school in Indiana, but it's a 130-mile commute."
      During his 10 years at Indiana, Barlow and his researchers developed a new line of investigative neurophysiology, studying how babies develop oral motor control for swallowing, sucking, and precursors to speech. The neonatal
steve sartori
Steven Barlow recently joined the School of Education faculty.
intensive care units at SUNY Health Science Center, Crouse Hospital, and other Syracuse area hospitals offer opportunities to study neural mechanisms of change in babies born up to three months early. Some of these premature babies may manifest residual and progressive impairments in coordinating the mouth and chest muscles for sucking and swallowing. Experiments during the next five years will focus on possible links between such impairments and delayed acquisition of speech and language.
      Over the next few years, Barlow says, the program will create several new labs, including a neonatal research center shared by SU, the University of Arizona, and Indiana University Medical School at Indianapolis. The facility, located at Crouse Hospital, will be the only one of its kind in the world.
      Students at all levels will be directly involved in the labs, Barlow says. Undergraduates will help operate them, while a new series of curricula will enhance graduate students' applied research. "These new ventures are going to give the CS&D program a decided twist on neuroscience and speech language communication that historically it's never had," Barlow says. "And it should position this program at the forefront nationally."                                                                                                       —GARY PALLASSINO



Natalia Rivera's final presentation in Professor Fred Phelps's electrical and computer engineering senior design lab accounts for about half her grade. But considering this level of importance, she appears remarkably relaxed. Dressed in sneakers and workout pants, Rivera '99 explains how she and partner Serhend Arvas '99 designed, built, and tested a model for 900Mhz wireless headphones.
      Her composure may have something to do with the audience. The senior engineering students in this lab form a collaborative relationship as they put their projects together. Each knows the frustrations and hard work that classmates endure to finish presentations. Rivera, for example, explains that her testing results were hampered by an antenna problem. Instead of offering criticism, classmates inquire further about the problem and offer solutions. "These are sophisticated projects," Phelps says. "It takes most of the semester for the students to finish them, but the class is very unstructured, so there is a lot of freedom."
      For Rivera, the design experience was an opportunity to explore her specific area of interest—communication systems engineering. "It's about putting some of the theories you learn in class into practice," she says.
      "The bottom line is to produce something that works—that means doing whatever it takes," says Sean Wallace '99. Wallace built a video effects device from scratch. He incorporated the device into a multimedia system that several classmates used for their presentations. "With this, we can integrate a student's computer presentation with a video presentation," Wallace says, nodding toward a tower of electronic equipment in the back of the presentation room. "This project was a good way for me to combine different concepts. It can be a real expression of your interests, and can enable you to concentrate on areas that need more work. It's all what you make of it."
      Mike Leathem '99 worked on a University-sanctioned project—establishing a printed circuit board milling station that engineering students will use for years to come. He researched software suppliers, learned the software, used it to produce mill boards for other student projects, and instructed returning students on how to use the software. "This had to be completed," Leathem says. "We couldn't just say, 'Well, we tried' and walk away from it."
      Such opportunities, especially when matched with specific engineering disciplines, help students establish career goals. Wallace says the projects also showcase individual skills for potential employers.
      Phelps seems as invigorated and enlightened as his students when he sees them focus on projects and develop their skills to their full potential. "When it's right, what you want to do is make teachers learners and learners teachers," he says.
                                                                                                                          —TAMMY DIDOMENICO

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