Hosting a conference at Alfred State that marries sustainability and STEM disciplines just makes sense, given that the two are heavily focused on at the college.
That’s why last week, 60 participants from institutions of higher education throughout the state gathered at Alfred State for just such an event: the “Applying STEM Disciplines to Support Sustainable Communities Symposium.”
Hosted by Alfred State in collaboration with New York Campus Compact (NYCC), the conference focused on discovering and sharing best practices related to the interface of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines and sustainability. The NYCC is a membership association of college and university presidents committed to promoting “active citizenship as an aim of higher education,” according to its website, www.nycampuscompact.org.
The keynote speakers were Dr. Mark Gallo, professor of biology at Niagara University, and Dan McMann, facility planner at Niagara University. Gallo is a member of the American Society for Microbiology Scholars in Residence program, the chair of the K-12 Committee for the American Society for Microbiology, and has been a frequent presenter at the National Association for Biology Teachers and the National Science Teachers Association annual meetings.
Prior to joining Niagara University, McMann, who graduated from Alfred State in 1994 with an architectural engineering degree, worked as a senior project manager at BHNT Architects, P.C. He has been awarded the “Wall of Fame” and “Best in Category” from VP Buildings, the “Best Green Construction” from Business First Brick by Brick, and was a finalist for the “Best Retail/Restaurant” for his work on the Hamburg Casino.
In addition to the keynote speakers were several breakout sessions on several topics such as specific course assignments that connect STEM and society, incorporating sustainability into the curriculum, and innovative partnerships.
Jonathan Hilsher, director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Alfred State, said faculty and students in the STEM disciplines develop and contribute a unique skill set that can be applied to identify and address community challenges, including those related to sustainability.
“Some of the most innovative STEM courses and programs connect know-how and innovation to issues of critical local, national, and global importance,” Hilsher said. “By applying these courses and programs to things such as renewable energy, green building, and sustainable agriculture, we can help make the world a better and more environmentally friendly place to live in.”
Dr. Laurie S. Worrall, executive director of New York Campus Compact, said, “New York Campus Compact sponsored this gathering at Alfred State because it is important to bring faculty, staff, and community partners together to learn from each other. The focus of tailoring STEM education at the college level to help create more sustainable communities is not only timely, it is one of the most important civic issues of our era. Gatherings like this one help innovative strategies and partnerships emerge that connect the considerable resources of higher education to community efforts.”
For the Alfred community and its two institutions of higher education, providing service to those in need is a top priority.
In fact, many community members, faculty, staff, and students within Alfred actively live out the principles that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself stood for – equality, social justice, community, and service. That’s why each year, several of these civic-minded individuals are recognized during the annual Celebration of Service Ceremony.
Receiving the 2017 Alfred Community Spirit of Service Award was Guifang Lui (Master Fang), a local Tai Chi instructor. She began offering a class in Tai Chi, at no charge, to meet each weekday morning on the Village Green in Alfred. The group, which has since grown to more than 60 people, includes people from Alfred and the surrounding communities. She has also provided a bridge and an opportunity for the local community to meet and befriend many Chinese members of the Confucius Institute, thereby exposing the community to another culture. Also nominated was Dr. Bob Pipal, president of the A.E. Crandall Hook and Ladder Company and former Alfred University chemistry professor.
The recipient of the 2017 Alfred State Faculty/Staff Spirit of Service Award was Kelly Harrison, secretary for Human Resources. Harrison is a huge advocate for veterans, as she is always organizing and volunteering for veteran organizations and coordinating benefits through her volunteer work at the American Legion. Also nominated were Melanie Ryan, coordinator of student disability services; and Diane Winans, payroll examiner in the Office of Business Affairs.
Larissia Hall, a technology management major from Keuka Park, was the recipient of the 2017 Alfred State Student Spirit of Service Award. Hall, who is an academic peer mentor on campus, commits to at least 50 hours of service through her academic semester, has been very active with disaster-relief organization All Hands Volunteers, and has traveled all over the county and to Louisiana and Tennessee on disaster relief trips and rebuilding/cleanup efforts. Also nominated were Brittany Smith, a Wellsville resident and Reaching Individual Success in Education (RISE) program supporter; and Kemar Kidd, an individual studies major from Bronx.
Hagar Professor of Natural Science and Professor of Geology Dr. Michele Hluchy was presented with the 2017 Alfred University Faculty/Staff Spirit of Service Award. Hluchy has brought an awareness of poverty and health in Haiti to the Alfred community. Her Water for Haiti Project raised $15,000 to build a well there, and she also organized another project to donate books to Cameroon. Fellow nominees include Zachary Hamm, technical director in the Division of Performing Arts; Dr. Robyn Goodman, professor of Communication Studies; and Bob Rankl, head football coach.
Receiving the 2017 Alfred University Student Spirit of Service Award was Mawia Elawad, who was described as “an incredibly articulate advocate for social justice for women, people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, the Muslim community, etc.” She has shown that she is passionate about working to spread the message of equality and compassion to youth within the community and beyond through her work with the Art Force 5, a “team of creative superheroes” who deliver the powerful messages of anti-violence, community-building, and creative problem solving. Also nominated was Nur Amalina Amir Hamzah, the university’s current Student Senate diversity director.
Three Alfred State students were cast in a big supporting role recently when they assisted their professor and his art collective on a project for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
Founded in 1978 by actor Robert Redford, Sundance is the largest independent film festival in the United States, and is a showcase for new work from American and international independent filmmakers.
Alfred State digital media and animation students Taylor Stevenson (West Seneca), Nia Seward (Newark Valley), and Jillian Gregory (Andover) each lent their talents to Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Animation Jeremy Speed Schwartz and his art collective, “The League of Imaginary Scientists,” on a participatory animation project for the festival called “The Social Cinema Machine.” The project was in collaboration with the Sundance Institute and the festival’s audience.
According to Speed Schwartz, The Social Cinema Machine film was mostly created in response to audience reaction to the festival and current events.
“Animated sequences were prepared as coloring-book images based on feedback from surveys, which were handed out to audience members while they waited in line for films,” Speed Schwartz said. “We collected them after they were colored, scanned them, and put them back in order in the animated sequence. The final animation was projected in an installation at the Sundance Awards Party.”
Founded in 2006 by Speed Schwartz, Lucy HG Solomon, and Steve Shoffner, The League of Imaginary Scientists art collective is dedicated to installation, film, and interactive art that crosses the borders between art and science. In December, the Sundance Institute approached the League about the possibility of collaborating on a project for the festival.
Following a series of proposals, the Institute selected The Social Cinema Machine. Once funding was received from the provost’s office, Alfred State students traveled to Utah to work on the project under the direction of the League, along with students from California State University (CSU) San Marcos.
“The students were integral to the completion of the project, and were involved in every step of the process,” Speed Schwartz said. “They were responsible for distributing and collecting the frames, as well as the creation of some of the animation. They were also present for the premiere at the awards party, where they were responsible for outreach to the public, keeping the interactions going, and documentation of the piece.”
Other principal collaborators of The Social Cinema Machine included artists Steve Shoffner and Leonard Trubia, and Elizabeth Greenway, director of development operations for the Sundance Institute. The League also received equipment support from Canon Inc.
To view the finished product, visit www.SocialCinemaMachine.com.
Being involved in the development of a revolutionary new cooling system, and also in the formation of a startup company are pretty amazing feats, especially if you’re still a student in college.
What makes Nathan DeMario’s achievements even more impressive is the fact that as a result of his hard work, he has also been named the co-inventor on a patent application for the system, which is being developed at Alfred State. The patent was filed on behalf of Alfred State through the State University of New York Research Foundation, the largest comprehensive university-connected research foundation in the country.
DeMario, an Alfred State mechanical engineering technology student from South Wales, worked with Dr. Jon Owejan, an assistant professor in the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology Department, to develop an environmentally friendly cooling and dehumidification system that does not use chemical refrigerants and compressors to carry heat out of buildings. The goal of the project was to improve energy efficiency while eliminating the harmful impacts that hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants have on global warming.
As part of the commercialization effort, DeMario even formed a startup company called Phase Innovations. For more information, visit phaseinnovations.com.
DeMario, whose contribution to the cooling system was mainly design-based, said being involved in the project has been extremely exciting.
“It was a true honor that Dr. Owejan brought me in on the project in the first place and let me give my viewpoints and share some of the designs that I came up with,” he said. “And then having my contribution noted as being worthwhile to actually add my name to the patent application was really exciting.”
Owejan, who is also named a co-inventor on the patent application, said, “It says a lot about Nate that he took on this leadership role” with the cooling system. He also credited additional team members Ryan Amidon (electrical engineering technology, Manlius), Joseph Carr (mechanical engineering technology, Churchville), and Jeffrey Smith (mechanical engineering technology, Livonia) for putting in plenty of hard work on the project, as well.
Applied learning can be found throughout all of Alfred State’s 70-plus majors, both inside and outside of the classroom. This means students are exposed to some pretty amazing, and in some cases unique, experiences.
One such example is a project worked on recently by nine mechanical engineering technology students in their fluid power systems design course. Their task: designing and fabricating a log splitter.
Taking about an entire semester to complete, the log splitter uses an 8.5 horsepower Honda engine, a two-stage hydraulic pump, and is sized to handle 36-inch logs. The system is currently set to deliver 15 tons of force.
The course, taught by Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology Department Chair and Professor Matthew Lawrence, prepares students to take the hydraulic specialist certification exam offered by the International Fluid Power Society. The project was funded by the President’s Office; Dr. John Williams, the dean of the School of Architecture, Management, and Engineering Technology; and the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology Department.
Eventually, the log splitter will be donated to a campus or community cause identified by the college’s Center for Civic Engagement.
Tyler Siddle, of Freedom, said the log splitter provided him and the other students with an excellent learning opportunity and was a really nice experience because it’s not the sort of project a lot of colleges offer.
“It’s one thing to sit in a classroom and learn about hydraulics, and it’s another to actually put something like this together and use it,” he said.
Elizabeth Glick, of Schenectady, said the project even caught the attention of a company’s CEO, who, during a job interview, asked her about the log splitter, which she had mentioned on her resume when applying.
“It’s great to be a part of a project like that,” she said. “To actually take what we learned in the classroom and apply it to real-world applications is nice.”
In addition to Siddle and Glick, the other students who worked on the project include Jon Pearl, of Cameron Mills; Carl Murray, of Naples; Justin Ramirez, of New York City; Colby Wright, of Lima; Billy Remis, of Williamson; Ryan Goodfellow, of Baldwinsville; and Josh Spoth, of Arkport.
Lawrence said a tremendous amount of attention to detail went into the log splitter, noting that none of the materials were arbitrarily chosen, and that “nothing is left to chance with a properly engineered system.”
“This project teaches students how you can optimize a system, rather than just build a system,” he said. “A hydraulic log splitter is a pretty simple machine, but to build one correctly, it takes a lot of specific technical knowledge. These students put in that effort to do it right, and I think that’s really rewarding.”
In celebration of the School of Applied Technology’s 50th anniversary, the Culinary Arts Department will be hosting a Mardi Gras buffet from 5-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, in the Culinary Arts Building on the Wellsville campus.
The cost of the meal is $15, which includes beverages, or $7 for children under 10 years of age. All proceeds of the dinner will benefit the Culinary Honors Club’s Student Scholarships Fund.
The menu will include jambalaya, gumbo, shrimp etouffée, southern fried chicken, red beans and rice, muffuletta and po’boy sandwiches, collard greens, king cake, pecan pralines, beignets, and much, much more.
Deb Burch, chair of the Culinary Arts Department, said, it’s hard to believe that the School of Applied Technology is turning 50 years old, and added that the campus has a great night planned for its Mardi Gras buffet.
“The ‘king’ and ‘queen’ will be passing out commemorative mints tins, and we will have lots of beads and good food for everyone to enjoy,” she said.
The meal is open to the public and no reservations are required. For more information, contact Mary Ellen Wood, keyboard specialist in the Culinary Arts Department, at 607-587-3170.
Other upcoming dates for 50th anniversary events include:
While the cold and snowy weather may have some people feeling the winter blues, that doesn’t have to be the case at Alfred State, where a brand-new tubing hill just opened.
Located on the Alfred campus behind the Orvis Activities Center and next to the baseball and softball practice fields, the tubing hill is now open Wednesdays and Fridays from 6-9 p.m. and Saturdays from 1-4 p.m. Students, faculty, and staff can enjoy the hill, and also bring one guest from the community with them who is at least 17 years old.
The college marked the opening of the new tubing hill in a small ceremony recently, which concluded with students sliding down the hill for the first time. Dr. Skip Sullivan, president of Alfred State, said he is excited about the new tubing hill opening, and noted that there are a lot of people to thank for bringing this idea to fruition.
“A number of our employees and students had a hand in the creation of our new tubing hill,” he said. “This new addition to our campus will be an excellent way for our college community to shake off the winter blues and have some fun.”
Specifically, credit goes to Building Trades Assistant Professor Mark Payne and his heavy equipment operations students, who helped transform the land into a tubing hill, and also to facilities workers, who installed the lights and lift, and helped with project management.
Furthermore, the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs also helped manage the project, and Student Senate purchased the equipment and is also responsible for funding the student workers who help operate the hill. Sean McCarthy, residence hall director, will be in charge of grooming and running the hill.
Those looking to go tubing on campus will need to present their Alfred State ID card during their visit to the hill. In the event of bad weather or lack of snow, a notification that the lift is closed will be posted in front of the Civic Engagement Office, located in room 204 of the Student Leadership Center.
The Educational Foundation of Alfred, Inc., annually provides $10,000 to Alfred State students through its work-grant program, allowing students who are ineligible for Federal College Work-Study funds to find employment on campus. The grant is renewable on an annual basis.
Additionally, departments within Alfred State can request student workers with specific skills and the work-grant coordinator attempts to meet those needs with appropriate student assistance.
Students funded through the Ed Foundation to work in specific areas on campus are considered “regular” employees of the college and are expected to maintain the level of professionalism required of their colleagues.
Currently for the 2016-2017 award year, seven students were able to find employment with the offices of Equity, Inclusion, and Title IX; Health and Wellness Services; Athletics; and International Affairs through the work-grant program. The program provides students with employment opportunities, and campus offices with student personnel who have specialized talents.
The program is administered through the Student Records and Financial Services Office.
The Educational Foundation of Alfred, Inc., is a private foundation representing faculty, staff, and friends of Alfred State dedicated to improving the college community through the support of educational programs. The activities pursued by the Educational Foundation of Alfred, Inc., are governed by a board of directors made up of representatives from each of the following groups: alumni, College Council, faculty and staff, and friends of the college.
The Foundation provides monetary support to enhance learning opportunities for students through scholarships, work grants, and community service projects. The Ed Foundation also funds the Building Trades programs’ hands-on home construction projects.
Additionally, the Foundation owns and maintains the School of Applied Technology campus in Wellsville. The 22-acre parcel consists of more than 20 buildings with nearly 800 students enrolled in 15 programs. The programs, which stress “learning by doing,” incorporate traditional classroom experience with comprehensive “on-the-job” laboratory experiences.
Since 1966, the Foundation has invested more than $8 million in improvements on the campus.
When Robin Torpey goes for a run, he feels like a kid again. He feels like he can run forever.
As Torpey, age 58, notes, “It’s just putting one foot in front of the other, right?”
While this is technically true, it’s definitely not as easy as it sounds. Becoming a competitive distance runner literally and figuratively take many steps, which Torpey, an associate professor at Alfred State, has done so often that he has now qualified for the 2017 New York City Marathon and the 2018 Boston Marathon.
“The New York City Marathon is a bucket list item for me,” he said. “I love New York City and am excited by the idea of being able to run 26.2 miles through all five boroughs of the city. The Boston Marathon was never a big goal for me, but it’s like the ‘Holy Grail’ for marathoners. You’re not considered a ‘real’ marathon runner until you’ve qualified for Boston, and a lot of runners never manage to qualify, so I wanted to do it just to prove that I could.”
Torpey’s path to becoming a runner is a unique one. Though he ran track and field at Cuba High School in the mid-70s and also ran for fitness purposes while in the Air Force, he didn’t begin competitive distance running until the age of 55.
By then, he had decided that as he was getting older, he wanted to get into better shape, so he enrolled in a mixed martial arts (MMA) school.
“I soon found that I was too out of shape to do well at MMA,” he said. “The instructor told us that the best thing you could do in a bad situation, if possible, was to run away, so I decided to start running, figuring by doing so, I could get into better shape and would then be able to return to MMA school. After running for a while, I found that I enjoyed it so much that I never returned to MMA school.”
When he first started training, Torpey began by doing eight consecutive two-minute intervals, with each consisting of 15 seconds of running, and one minute, 45 seconds’ worth of walking. He gradually increased his running and decreased his walking within each interval to the point where he could begin competing in 5Ks.
“After I started running 5Ks, I learned that I really enjoyed it,” he said. “Then I learned that as a general rule I’m not very competitive, but when I’m running I’m extremely competitive. Before long, I was placing in the top three in my age group in every 5K I ran.”
In addition to a rigorous personal training regimen and running with the Olean Area Runners Group, Torpey has stayed in shape by eating foods such as salmon, lean red meat and chicken, and low-fat cottage cheese, instead of processed foods or anything made with refined grains.
As he has continued to train and eat healthy, Torpey has become able to run even greater distances for longer periods of time. He qualified for the 2018 Boston Marathon, which will be held April 16 that year, by running one in Harrisburg, PA in November 2016 in less than three hours and 40 minutes. To be eligible for the 2017 New York City Marathon, taking place Nov. 5, he needed to finish the Empire State Half Marathon in Syracuse in October 2016 in less than an hour and 36 minutes, which he did.
To date, Torpey has earned a number of honors for his achievements in running, including finisher’s medals for four marathons and six half marathons, and medals or trophies for 16 5Ks, all within the span of two years.
While Torpey has been training and running competitively for a while now, his employment at Alfred State dates much further back. Since being hired as an instructional support associate in 1991, he has held a few positions at the college, including Electrical/Electronics Department professor and chair. He is currently an associate professor in the Computer and Information Technology Department.
For anyone looking to follow Torpey’s example of becoming a distance runner, he urges them to, “Decide how badly you want it and whether you’re willing to do what it takes to get there.”
“Like most things in life, you have to do the work to get the rewards,” he said. “I don’t care how much talent a person has, if you want to be a competitive distance runner, you have to do the work, and there’s nothing wrong with deciding you just want to be a distance runner without being competitive. Don’t ever forget that it’s supposed to be fun.”
Torpey also advises runners to remember the old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
“You have to start slowly and easily and gradually work your way up,” he said. “Too many people go out and try to run too far, too fast, too soon, and they end up injured. It’s no fun watching everyone else run while you’re recovering from an overuse injury.”
Finally, he offers one last piece of advice: Don’t try to beat him in a race.
“It’s not going to happen,” he said.
The Alfred State western equestrian team finished its regular season on a high note recently, earning top spots in its final two shows, and sending many of its riders off to the regionals.
In its last regular-season action of the year, the group was deemed the High Point Team (first place) for its morning show and the Reserve High Point Team (second place) for the afternoon show. Team captain Haleigh Hurd (accounting, Greenwood) was the Reserve High Point Rider for both shows, qualified for regionals, and earned a trip to compete at the semifinals at West Texas A&M in March.
The team, led by Hurd and fellow team captain Mary LaPlante (agricultural business, Angola), and coached by Rose Stayer-Ruffner, will be well represented at regionals, which will be held 9 a.m. Feb. 26 at the Bromeley-Daggett Equestrian Center, 5174 Lake Road, Alfred Station.
Victoria Bolton, who has been instrumental in forming and guiding the team since its inception, said, “The team members are very dedicated and have worked very hard honing their riding skills under the guidance of Rose. The riders accumulate points by placing in their classes at the eight regular season shows. To have 10 riders qualify for the regional show is very impressive.”
In addition to Hurd, nine other riders have earned the points needed to move on. In the Beginner Horsemanship division, are Amber Laibe (veterinary technology, Vestal), Hannah Schaus (culinary arts: baking, production and management, Arcade), Erika Sutherland (veterinary technology, Dundee) and John Thompson (human services, Hornell). Intermediate riders who qualified are Jessica Bongard (architecture, Webster), Morgan Hynes (veterinary technology, Retsof), Rachel McNeal (radiologic technology, Elmira), and Rachel Von Hagn (nursing, Bath). Hannah Brizzee (agricultural business, Canisteo) qualified for Novice and Hurd will be riding Open Reining.
Many impressive rides were given by team members, including Hurd who took a first and second in Open Reining, Alyssa Beardsley (architectural technology, Silver Springs) who had a strong pattern to earn a third and fourth in Advanced Horsemanship, and Brizzee, who walked away with a first in Advanced. Von Hagn won her Novice Horsemanship.
In a large and competitive Intermediate 2 division, Kirstin Reynolds (diagnostic medical sonography, Cuba) earned first in both shows, Sarah Czelusta (welding technology, Bliss) another first, McNeal a second, and Mackenzie Caletka (veterinary technology, Apalachin) a third. For Intemediate 1, the morning show resulted in the Alfred State riders taking first (Laibe), second (Thompson) and third (Schaus), and Sutherland took second in the afternoon show. A couple of newcomers to the team also performed well, as Katelynn Lawson (agricultural business, Savannah) placed first and second in Beginner and Willow Voegtlen (agricultural technology, Columbia Cross Roads, PA), in her first-ever show, received a second in Beginner.
The team would love to have the support of Alfred State students, employees, and community members at the regional show Sunday. The top two riders in each division in the regional show will move on to semifinals, which will be March 25-26 in Texas. Riders who advance to semifinals who place in the top four will move on to finals, which will be held May 4-7 in Lexington, KY.