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June 8, 2001
Volume 38, No. 17


Of clowns and satellites: Staff Celebration Day
Final budget determinations wait for word from state and Regents
Worried about energy curtailment? Don't sweat it
Faculty, staff get 'em while they're hot

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News Briefs
UI SMART suggestion program seeks ideas for streamlining processes, saving money
Staff Council presents June Longevity Award
Staff Charter Committee selections made
IOWA winners


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Offices and Awards

Ph.D. Thesis Defenses
Pubs. and Creations
Office of the Provost tentative deadlines for 2000-2001
Parking: Ring in the new, renew the old
Staff tuition grant application for fall semester 2001
Tuition assistance for employee development

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TIAA Cref Unit Values

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Of clowns and satellites: Staff Celebration Day

Ella Born, research assistant in internal medicine, looks on as Kelly Schmidt of the Center for Advanced Drug Development (CADD) demonstrates the Friabilator, a device used to test the durability of tablet-form medications. Photo by Kirk Murray.

UI WorkLife director Laura Reed puts up a fight for fisherwoman Amanda Phelps, daughter of Cindy Phelps, Hardin Library custodian. Photo by Kirk Murray.

You could walk like a drunk, win a squeezable foam rubber "stress buster," donate a pint of blood, snack on grilled chicken and chocolate cake, check out a model of the Hawkeye Athletics Recreation Facility under construction, get a balloon animal from Gunny the clown, and locate an individual dandelion on the IMU lawn with the help of satellites 20,000 miles away. If, that is, you were among the nearly 900 people who attended the fifth annual Staff Celebration Day on May 30, in the IMU Main Lounge.

This year’s Staff Celebration Day featured 63 booths at which staff members from all over campus demonstrated the workings of their departments. It was an afternoon packed with information, entertainment, good food, and professional pride.

  Public safety officer Brad Allison watches as Daniel Crawford, senior programmer analyst at the Iowa Memorial Union, tries to walk a straight line while wearing Fatal Vision goggles. The goggles simulate the effects of alcohol overindulgence. Photo by Kirk Murray.

Brad Allison was there with his Fatal Vision goggles. Allison is a crime prevention officer with the Department of Public Safety. The goggles, purchased in partnership with the Stepping Up project, simulate the visual effects of inebriation. There are two different strengths, bronze and silver, that correspond to different levels of drunkenness. Allison uses them to show students what a snootful can do to their physical coordination.

"They’re a great learning tool," Allison said, as giggly staffers donned the goggles and stumbled off, over, around, and everywhere but on a taped line on the floor.

Collin Just was there with his Van Kel Friabilator. Friable, according to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, means "easily crumbled or pulverized." The Friabilator is a machine that does nothing but crumble and pulverize. Just, an engineer in the Center for Advanced Drug Development, demonstrated how it measures the amount of medicine wasted in the form of dust at the bottom of the bottle. In one of the machine’s twin rotating drums were samples of aspirin and ibuprofen, tumbling away and leaving a sizeable residue of powder. In the other drum were tablets that had been coated and left no waste. The coatings were, of course, black and gold.

Helga Johnson, a clinical technologist in pathology, prepares to check the blood pressure of Ralph Miller, FSG area mechanic, before he donates blood. The DeGowin Blood Donor Center drive netted 15 pints of blood during Staff Celebration Day. Photo by Kirk Murray.


Dan Sovers was there with a brand-new global positioning system (GPS) device. It looks like a plastic globe on a two-meter-long pole with a computer keypad attached at the middle. The device communicates with the approximately 20 satellites that orbit the planet to locate places on the Earth’s surface with pinpoint accuracy. Sovers, a clerk with Facilities Services Group, demonstrated how the system will enable staff members to, say, dig for buried water pipes without accidentally disturbing buried fiber-optic cables.

"You can’t dig a hole on this campus without hitting something," said Tom Dewey, an engineer with Operations and Maintenance. Thanks to the new GPS equipment, accidental hits will be a thing of the past.

Sovers wasn’t too busy to let a curious fyi reporter try out the device. He selected a location from among several he’d programmed ahead of time. The machine guided my steps, directing me closer and closer to the predetermined spot. Finally, I was within a few tenths of a foot of the desired location. I looked down. The bottom of the pole was pointing straight at a dandelion with a twig driven through it.

"You found your dandelion," Sovers said. "Now you can go."

Article by Sam Samuels

As part of the celebration, the winners of the spring 2001 Improving Our Workplace Awards (IOWA) were honored. For the list of winners, visit


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