Alumni Plaza the center of the Dowagiac campus


Gage Ensign

Gage Ensign

Danny Joy

Danny Joy

Ben Stratton

Ben Stratton

Lilly Dekker

Emma Hinsey

Nick Weston

SMC Honors Program’s ‘No-TED Talks’ Showcase Student Research

Published on April 21, 2023 - 4 p.m.

Southwestern Michigan College Honors Program’s five “NoTED Talks,” plus 10 poster presentations April 19 in the Student Activity Center, included a live ChatGPT demonstration.

Research ranged from Kate Miles’ “Ocean Acidification and its Effects on Organisms That Utilize Calcium Carbonate” and Anna Leach of Cassopolis applying social psychology to the 1986 Challenger rocket explosion to Alex Medina’s look at Middle Eastern influences on Western civilization; and Ben Stratton’s exploration of film noir, neo noir and German director Werner Herzog.

Stratton, from Otsego, wants to study film production at Western Michigan University after graduating this fall.

Accounting major Danny Joy, from India until 2014 (his sister teaches at Andrews University), highlighted ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot developed by OpenAI and released last November.

A four-stanza poem about his dog flows instantaneously across the screen: “Jhansi, oh Jhansi, a bundle of fun/With a wag of her tail, she brightens everyone/From chasing her ball to running in the sun/She’s always up for adventure, and never done.”

He commands  it to translate the poem into French. It can explain accounting principles in terms a 13-year-old can understand or love at a 5-year-old’s comprehension.

Future research could delve into how ChatGPT compares to other AI language models for generating business messages; potential cost savings and productivity benefits compared to hiring human writers; ethical considerations; and how companies can integrate ChatGPT into existing communication strategies.

Gage Ensign, of Constantine, prepared posters introducing nonfiction creative writing and the science of hand-washing, then paced the SAC theatre stage preaching growth mindset.

Growth mindset advocates believe that even if they struggle with certain skills, their abilities aren’t set in stone and can improve over time with work.

Ensign, who will be speaking at the Outstanding Graduate Reception April 27, highlighted David Goggins, ultramarathon runner, ultra-distance cyclist, triathlete, inspirational speaker and author. The retired Navy SEAL served in Iraq. His first memoir, Can’t Hurt Me, was released in 2019, followed by a sequel, Never Finished, in 2022.

“He stuttered and suffered from toxic stress at 8 due to the absence of protective relationships,” Ensign explained. “His hair was falling out. This weak boy overcame adversity to end up known as the toughest man on the planet.”

Ensign graduates April 29. An active Marines reservist, he attends officer candidate school this summer. This fall, Ensign enters Central Michigan University, walking on to the Chippewas’ wrestling program.

Hailie Lucas, transferring to Michigan State University, analyzed Gregory Mantsios’ “Media Magic: Making Class Invisible” with independent research.

Paw Paw’s Nick Weston studied “Renewable Energy Wildlife Conflict: Is Green Still Good?” Weston intends to transfer to MSU to major in zoology “to work in wildlife biology and conservation.”

Trevor Zimmerman explained income inequality and what he dubbed “the flushing toilet economic model. Households scream for the government to increase minimum wage. Inflation, unemployment and market concentration result, so then we need to tax the rich. The government gets involved. More poverty and unemployment result. As this cycle repeats, households swirl down the drain until all that is left is the empty toilet — the government.

“Public discourse needs to change. We’re polarized, demonizing the government, firms or both, with social media as an echo chamber. Term limits for legislators would fix some problems, like using taxes appropriately — not punitively taxing wealth. Politicians just want to be re-elected so they do things that don’t line up with common sense. AI is here to stay. Education needs to catch up. Will households educate the populace, or be content to let the power of technology rest in the hands of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates?”

Brandywine’s Emma Hinsey’s “The Impact of Physical Activity on the Body” ties in with transferring to CMU to become a physical therapist.

Lilly Dekker, transferring to the University of Louisville, traced nine prison eras since 1790 — penitentiary beginning with Pennsylvania Quakers, mass prisons (1825-76), reformatories (1876-90), industrial (1890-1935), punitive (1935-45), treatment (1945-67), community-based (1967-80), warehousing (1980-95) and, finally, “just desserts,” or retribution. The severity of a crime should be reflected in the severity of the punishment.

“There are 102 federal prisons,” she said, “1,719 state prisons, and with all the juvenile correction facilities and local jails, 2.4 million inmates.”

Calculus III students Connor Stull and Alex Foster from Stevensville Lakeshore probed Kepler’s laws of planetary motion.

Stull hopes to transfer to Michigan Tech, WMU or U of M for mechanical engineering. He came from Hawaii. His father’s military career meant living in Hampton, Va.; Wichita Falls, Texas; Michigan in third grade; Arizona; and North Carolina.

Despite his affinity for mathematics, Stull’s first love is music. If it offered job security, he’d be a luthier, making stringed instruments, such as guitars or violins.