Annual BEAR Day and Engineering Expo to Showcase Diverse Talent Across Mercer’s Schools and Colleges


MACON ­– Mercer University will hold its fifth annual Breakthroughs in Engagement, Arts and Research (BEAR) Day and 14th annual Engineering Expo April 9-10 to showcase outstanding student research and special projects from the College of Liberal Arts, Stetson School of Business and Economics, Townsend School of Music and the School of Engineering.

The festivities begin with poster presentations throughout Heritage Hall in the University Center on Thursday from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

John Rhett Thomas, CLA '94, will offer this year's keynote address in the Presidents Dining Room on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Thomas will speak about his journey from Mercer to Marvel Comics, where he has served as a writer and editor since 2005.

Born and raised in Indian River County, Florida, Thomas majored in English and communication/theatre arts at Mercer. In 2000, he launched a popular comic book-related website, and in 2005, he furthered his career in comics as a writer and editor in the special projects office at Marvel.

Since then, he has edited the monthly Marvel industry magazine Marvel Spotlight, written The Art of Iron Man and edited a series of coffee table art books highlighting the careers of artist luminaries like Joe Quesada, Marko Djurdjevic and Mike Deodato. In 2014, Thomas served as consulting editor and co-writer on Taschen's 75 Years of Marvel Comics: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen.

His current projects include writing and editing The Marvel Legacy of Jack Kirby for Marvel, co-editing Stan Lee's autobiography for Taschen, and producing a book/multimedia box set anthology of the life and musical legacy of The Byrds' Gene Clark.

BEAR Day poster and paper presentations and art exhibitions continue throughout Friday in locations across campus, including the University Center, Knight, Stetson and Hardman halls, and, new this year, the McCorkle Music Building. The Townsend School of Music's brass choir will perform on the patio from 10-11 a.m., and poster presentations will be on display in the corridor from 1-3 p.m.

The Art Department's annual student awards ceremony will take place from 2-3 p.m. in Hardman Gallery, and the University Honors Convocation will follow from 4-5 p.m. in Willingham Auditorium.

The senior art show and reception at the 567 Center for Renewal in downtown Macon and the release party for Mercer's literary and arts review The Dulcimer in the Religious Life Center, both of which begin at 6 p.m., round out the schedule of events.

“BEAR Day is a celebration of the diverse talents found at Mercer. The Engaged Learning Committee is amazed at the variety and depth of engagement, arts and research being presented this year,” said Dr. Robert Allen, professor of computer science and chair of the committee that organizes BEAR Day along with the Provost's Office, undergraduate deans and University Libraries. “We are particularly pleased with the increased visibility of the Townsend School of Music this year.”

The Engineering Expo will take place on Friday in the Science and Engineering and School of Engineering buildings. The annual freshman design competition will be held from 9-10 a.m. and 12:30-1:30 p.m., with poster sessions from 10:30-11:30 a.m. and presentations from 1:30-3 p.m. Expo awards will be handed out at 3 p.m.

“The Engineering Expo is a showcase where our students share their research and design activities over the last year,” said Dr. Wade H. Shaw, dean and Kaolin Chair of Engineering. “The School of Engineering is proud to share the work of seniors completing their capstone projects, honors student projects, master's thesis projects and the design competition that our freshmen use to test vehicles that they have built. Each year we celebrate our students' mastery of creative design and share their success with the community.”

More than 150 students will offer more than 100 poster and paper presentations during BEAR Day, while some 200 freshmen, 60 seniors and 50 honors students will participate in the Engineering Expo.

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.