Monday, September 26, 2011

Levine Scholars Class of 2015 Take Alaska

The second annual class of Levine Scholars have returned safe and sound from their summer trip to the Alaskan wilderness and are nowe ensconced on campus, deep in study. For three weeks they toured the backcountry, growing, learning and having fun. These super-scholars are some of the best and brightest -- 16 chosen from more than 1,100 appicants natonwide. They are smart, studious, serious (sometimes) and ... they're teenagers.

The UNC Charlotte Faculty Jazz Quintet

Jazz artists on UNC Charlotte faculty will perform as quintet Sept. 27 at Robinson Hall. These accomplished musicians have played with some of the great jazz performers, in some of the great venues in America and beyond.

Friday, September 23, 2011

DOE Solar Decathlon: People's Choice Award

Vote Now for Appalachian’s Solar Homestead!

Show your North Carolina pride by supporting Appalachian State University’s Solar Decathlon team. Appalachian’s Solar Homestead, one of 18 net-zero designed houses selected to compete in the competition that includes representation from five countries, is proudly representing our state and the UNC system. Please show your support by voting in the People’s Choice category.

Voting is live now and will remain open until 7 p.m. Sept. 30.

It is easy to vote just click on this link:

Learn more about the competition:
• Via the Solar Decathlon website

• Via the Solar Decathlon mobile website (
To learn more about Appalachian’s entry visit
Information about all teams competing in the Solar Decathlon is available at

DOE Solar Decathlon: People's Choice Award Registration

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Countering Terrorism: our Learning Curve is Good but We Must Learn Faster

By Cindy Combs

Ten years after the events of 9/11, if we want to assess how well we have learned about the threat of terrorism we need to look back. But we also need to look at our world today, to see how well our learning curve compares with those planning and carrying out terrorist events. And we must look to the future to decide how high the cost of failure – or success – could be.

The passage of time has not changed the number killed or the damage to our country, but during those 10 years at least three important things have changed: our perception of terrorism as a real threat to domestic security, our ability to detect and deter emerging terrorism threats, and our awareness of the critical need for cooperative effort in preparing for and responding to this threat.

During the past decade terrorism has occurred with increasing frequency, but not on the scale of 9/11. This suggests several possibilities about our ability to deal with terrorism today, compared to U.S. counterterror capabilities 10 years ago. A brief look comparing the failures identified in the Report by the 9/11 Commission with more recent reports of patterns of global terrorism and counterterror initiatives offers insights both reassuring and troubling. Our learning curve is improving, but terrorism may be changing more quickly than our counterterror measures.

The report issued by the 9/11 Commission in July 2004 identified four critical failures in U.S. policy and preparedness: in imagination, policy, capabilities, and management. Each contributed to the attacks’ catastrophic impact, and each has been addressed, with some measure of success. Although the report detailed many different manifestations of these failures, we can look at just one to highlight the problem: the failure of imagination which led us to assume that airline hijackings could generally be resolved by negotiation. While numerous books and movies depicted suicidal airline hijackings, this was not built into our preparations for such events. Indeed, even though after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing attack – by al-Qaida operatives – we secured computer records indicating the group was planning to use planes as weapons of attacks in multiple cities, our imagination did not force us to envision this type scenario. So our pilots were unprepared.

This has certainly changed in the past 10 years. Today, training programs to prevent and, if necessary, deal effectively with the use of planes as weapons is fundamental to airports and airlines. But our imagination, our willingness to think outside of the box when envisioning modes of terrorist attacks, remains limited. Two simple points make that clear: First, we still do not match luggage with passengers on domestic flights. This allows a terrorist to buy two tickets, using one for travel and the other for the explosive-laden luggage which could be placed on a different flight, using the second ticket. Simple, yet we do not scan and match all luggage to prevent this.

Second, our airport checks focus on failed attempts to bring explosives aboard (in shoes and in small bottles of liquids). Unless we continue to assume that terrorists are stupid, announcing that these are what we are checking makes the checking essentially useless – and unimaginative.

Today, one area of assessment offers positive encouragement: We have substantially improved, particularly in the Charlotte region, on one of the other failures the report noted –the failure of management. While the report made clear that 10 years ago our country had a critical shortfall in interagency cooperation, organization, and convergence planning, Charlotte at that time already had substantial success in this arena with our ALERT system. Starting in 1998, emergency response agencies in Charlotte-Mecklenburg identified the area as a potential terrorist target and developed the Advanced Local Emergency Response Team (ALERT), made up of local law enforcement, fire, emergency medical and physician personnel to ensure preparedness for urban terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and natural disasters. Today Charlotte ALERT is a model for many cities, and in this arena Charlotte is ahead on the learning curve for counterterrorism response.

But even if we are learning quickly, it’s important to remember that terrorists are growing in numbers and, potentially, learning at least as fast. Terrorism today is more likely to be carried out by leaderless movements than by groups with fixed leadership structures and regular meetings. Instead of going to countries like Afghanistan for training, training camps today are often mobile, even available online, as are most of the weapons of choice. Today, password-protected Internet chat rooms are more likely venues for recruiting and motivating young people into terrorism than the coffee house and club meetings of previous decades. Our ability to track, identify and prevent terrorist attacks is challenged by the volatility and diversity of the terrorist movements, even after the death of Osama bin Laden.

So our learning curve concerning terrorism is good: Courses are taught in schools across the nation and in the military academies; we have pooled substantial resources to develop counterterror strategies and to equip national, state and local law enforcement organizations; we perceive terrorism as a clear domestic as well as foreign threat to security. Our problem tomorrow will be that terrorism is rapidly changing. What we perceived in 9/11 to be a large organization led by Bin Laden is now a dangerous but scattered and leaderless movement, spanning many continents, and our ability to defeat it is not clear. What is clear is that the technology that makes terrorism able to connect across vast spaces and to coordinate attacks, as occurred in Mumbai, also makes accessible weapons of mass destruction, particularly biological and chemical weapons such as sarin, ricin and anthrax.

In the future, we must be able to prevent, not simply most potential terrorist attacks attempted in the United States, as the FBI has done since 9/11. If only one occurs successfully, using a nonconventional weapons, it will be far worse than 9/1. So we must learn faster.

Cindy Combs is a professor of political science and public administration and is associated with the University's Center for Applied Counterterrorism Studies and with similar organizations worldwide.

UNC Charlotte Center City Community Day is Sept. 17

Community Day planned for UNC Charlotte Center City

Event Date:
Sat, 09/17/2011 - 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Event Location:
Center City Building, 9th & Brevard, Uptown Charlotte

With the opening of the Center City Building, UNC Charlotte is responding to the needs of the Charlotte region. The facility will offer programming focused on arts and the creative economy, business and finance, urban and regional development, health and community engagement.

On Saturday, Sept. 17, Center City opens its doors to welcome the neighboring community and University partners into the building to learn more about how UNC Charlotte plans to enhance existing connections and create new ones. UNC Charlotte faculty and staff members along with their family and friends are invited to the celebration.

“The campus community and our First and Fourth Ward neighbors will have a great opportunity to get better acquainted with UNC Charlotte Center City through our family-friendly Community Day celebration,” said Jerry Coughter, executive director. “This building promises to inspire collaboration between the University and the community, so it is fitting to bring us all together to discover how we can join forces.”

The UNC Charlotte Center City Community Day celebration will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The colleges of Arts + Architecture, Business, Computing and Informatics and Engineering, as well as the Auxiliary Services Office, Extended Academic Programs Office and Athletics Department are participating in this celebration. Parking will be available for a fee in nearby lots; visitors are encouraged to walk, bike or take public transit. UNC Charlotte Center City is two blocks from Seventh Street Station.

A fully operational race car, provided by the Motorsports Engineering Program will be among the displays featured at UNC Charlotte Center City. Motorsports students and staff will be available to talk about the car and the research associated with it. Also, the College of Computing and Informatics (CCI) will have an interactive, robotic virtual human on display; CCI students built it under the supervision of college faculty.

Mira Frisch, assistant professor of cello in the College of Arts + Architecture’s Music Department, will perform in a string trio with Charlotte Symphony musicians Kari Giles and Jenny Topilow. Adjunct faculty member and pianist Noel Friedline will perform with a flutist and flamenco guitarist, and Terranova Dance Theatre will give a preview of its performance that will be part of the N.C. Dance Festival. Two UNC Charlotte art professors will help children create print screen T-shirts while an art teacher from First Ward Elementary School helps others make tie-dye shirts.

English professor Mark West will stage a puppet show and deliver literary readings geared toward children and families, and there will be performances by the First Ward Elementary School step team and UNC Charlotte alumnus and slam poet Boris “Bluz” Rogers. Film screenings and more cultural and technological presentations are part of the celebration, too, and throughout the day, Charlotte 49ers mascot Norm the Niner will be on hand.

A complete schedule of events is being finalized, and new offerings from campus and community partners may be added prior to the celebration.

The 143,000 square-foot Center City Building houses graduate programs for the Belk College of Business and the College of Health and Human Services. Also, the College of Arts + Architecture’s Master of Urban Design and College of Education’s urban education program will meet at the building, and the Office of Extended Academic Programs will base its continuing education offerings there.

With its location at Ninth and Brevard streets, UNC Charlotte Center City borders the light rail tracks on one side and the First Ward neighborhood on the other. Fourth Ward is a few blocks away, and the core of Uptown Charlotte is nearby. University and community leaders envision the building will be a catalyst for continued redevelopment in the First Ward.

UNC Charlotte Center City Community Day 9/17/11

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Spotlight: Charlotte Research Institute is Portal For Industry Partners

Charlotte Research Institute is UNC Charlotte's portal for businesses and other organizations looking for partnerships in research -- especially applied research that that results in commercialized products and services (economic value). CRI specialities include visualization technology, optoelectronics, precision manufacturing, nanoscale science, biomedical and motorsports engineering.
Spotlight: Charlotte Research Institute is Portal For Industry Partners

CMS to spend up to $56,500 on search | & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board will turn to UNC Charlotte to assist in searching for its new superintendent. The board chose the University because of exemplary previous work that UNC Charlotte did in helping the library system with its budget crisis.

CMS to spend up to $56,500 on search | & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper

TV coverage at