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.”
Dr. Skip Sullivan, President, Alfred State College:
“Providing a safe and welcoming learning environment is a top priority at Alfred State. Currently there are 42 international students representing 11 countries enrolled at our college, and we work to provide them with a productive setting for their education. None of our international students are from the countries affected by President Trump’s executive order.
“As a member campus of the State University of New York system, we will abide by SUNY guidelines and look to their leadership as the situation may evolve. SUNY welcomes educators and students from across the world and our campus is enriched by their participation in our community.”
Additional statements issued jointly from SUNY Board Chairman H. Carl McCall and Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher are available online.
Over the last decade, several Alfred State engineering students have lent their skills and know-how to The Bicycle Man, LLC, a full-service bicycle and recumbent bike shop in Alfred Station.
During that time, the students have performed a variety of tasks, from design work on frames, to designing production jigs, to testing material samples and prototype frames.
Recently, this collaboration has resulted in some national recognition for The Bicycle Man, whose Linear Recumbents Roadster bicycle was just named the “2016 BentRider Online Recumbent Bike of the Year.” BentRider Online is the Internet’s premier source of recumbent news, views, and information.
“We are delighted to receive this award because it indicates that our commitment to innovation, engineering, and US manufacturing was worth it,” said Owner Peter Stull. “While most of the bicycle industry has moved to China or Taiwan, we think an innovative product can be US-made and compete on the market. In fact, we think it can be made in western New York and dominate a niche market.”
According to Stull, the bike’s design was in part the result of a collaboration with senior Alfred State mechanical engineering technology students, and its manufacturing jig design also resulted from input from the program’s students. Early prototypes of the bike were also machined and welded on the Wellsville campus.
Stull noted his business has spent more than a decade reengineering the Linear Recumbent for durability and adding features customers can use.
“Recumbent bikes are comfortable, but also bulky,” he said. “In 2016, we added a folding version of both our models. This allows a customer to easily put their bike in the trunk of a car. It also makes them the easiest full-size recumbent to pack for airline travel. As a side benefit, it has allowed us to lower our shipping cost to our customers. We are glad to be making a bike we are proud of, and glad we took the time and effort to get it to this point.”
Working with Alfred State faculty and students, Stull said, has helped The Bicycle Man grow the manufacturing side of its business. He credited several mechanical engineering technology students who have greatly helped his business over the years, including:
Dr. Craig Clark, Alfred State vice president of Economic Development and director of the Allegany County Industrial Development Agency, said this ongoing relationship is great for the college and Allegany County.
“The growth of Bicycle Man/Linear Recumbents and companies of this size is important for economic development in the county,” he said.
Alfred State once again welcomed a representative from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office to provide an update on the current condition of the State of New York and to outline the governor’s plan for the future.
Eric Hesse, director of the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs, delivered the governor’s State of the State address on campus recently to a large group of more than 200 students, faculty, staff, and local community members.
Hesse mentioned that under the Cuomo administration, statewide unemployment is down from 8.4 percent six years ago to 4.9 percent today, spending increases have been limited to under 2 percent a year since 2011, construction jobs have increased 22.4 percent from 2010 to 2015, and that tax rates are down for every New Yorker. While progress has been made, Hesse said, the governor recognizes there is more to do, particularly in lifting up the middle class and working class who feel left out of the economic recovery.
At the same time, he said, there is a recent and powerful belief that America’s diversity, openness, and acceptance is in conflict with the success of America’s middle-class working families. As a result, the state, Hesse said, will take two paths forward: advancing the middle class and protecting progressive values.
The Middle Class Recovery Act, he said, will emphasize jobs and infrastructure, access to education, and lowering taxes.
One step ahead includes the governor’s recent proposal that calls for investing $163 million to provide free tuition at all SUNY and CUNY two- and four-year colleges for students whose families earn $125,000 a year or less. He noted that in 2015, the average student loan debt in New York was $29,320 and that 85 percent of all families in western New York would qualify for tuition-free public college under the governor’s proposed plan.
Additionally, Hesse also touched upon the necessary continued growth of the Buffalo Billion strategy, to create thousands of jobs and spur billions in new investment and economic activity in western New York over the next several years. Among the 20 proposals Hesse listed, one involves replicating the successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative to transform suburban downtowns across the region.
In this initiative, the governor is looking to invest $100 million in revitalizing 10 more downtowns. Among the eligible downtowns are three from Allegany County: Alfred, Angelica, and Wellsville.
Also looking ahead, Hesse mentioned several other proposals, including no tax increases, making ridesharing legal across New York State, investing $100 billion statewide in infrastructure, a six-point plan to combat drug abuse, cutting middle-class taxes for 6 million taxpayers, and raising the age of criminal responsibility.
The 54th house that Alfred State students have constructed for the Wellsville community could be just months away from completion, as solid progress continues to be made on the future residence.
Sitting on more than five acres of land at 3829 Foundation Drive, the 2,199-square-foot, French country-style three-bedroom house includes a covered rear porch with a wood-burning fireplace, a full basement, a formal dining room, a laundry room, a two-car garage, a home office area, and more.
According to Joe Richardson, professor in the Building Trades Department, work on the house should be completed in May of this year, just over two years after work on the house began in April 2015.
“We’re making steady progress on the house,” Richardson said. “Our students have been working very hard and diligently to complete construction and to provide another high-quality residence for the Wellsville community.”
Richardson noted that students in the heavy equipment operations, air conditioning and heating technology, building trades: building construction, masonry, and electrical construction and maintenance electrician programs have all had a hand in the construction of the future abode.
The houses Alfred State students regularly build for the community, valued at more than $200,000, take two years to complete, and are then subsequently sold on the open market and occupied.
Students build and detail the houses in a subdivision owned by the Educational Foundation of Alfred, Inc., a private foundation dedicated to improving the Alfred State community through the support of educational programs. The Educational Foundation funds the construction of the houses.
“These magnificent residences and the excellent real-world, on-the-job training our students receive as a result of working on them would not be possible without the Educational Foundation,” Richardson said. “The Foundation plays a major role in the construction of these houses, and we are very grateful for their ongoing support.”
For those wondering why school buses are yellow and fast food restaurants employ red in their color schemes, color theory instructor and award-winning contemporary artist Ivy Stevens-Gupta will shed some light on why color matters in an upcoming presentation at Alfred State.
Stevens-Gupta will present in the spring 2017 lecture series of the Architecture and Design Department on Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and will take place at the college’s Orvis Activities Center Auditorium. A reception will follow from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Hinkle Memorial Library, during which refreshments will be served.
After studying art at Alfred University, Stevens-Gupta received her AAS in business administration from Corning Community College, a BS in marketing and an MS in liberal studies from SUNY Empire State College, and a certificate in interior design from Interior Design Institute. She is a former advertising manager for Gannett Newspaper Division and corporate relations director for Johnson at Cornell University.
Stevens-Gupta currently teaches color theory and painting, and works as a marketing consultant. Her vibrant paintings can be found in homes and offices all over the world and have appeared in several books on contemporary international artists.
Color can express various emotions and moods and adds brilliance to everyday life. In her lecture “Color Matters: Introduction to Color Theory,” Stevens-Gupta will discuss how color is used in global marketing, the psychological and cultural connotative properties of color, and the science behind color. Guests are invited to bring laptops or tablets to the lecture in order to participate in an interactive color test.
While on campus, check out Stevens-Gupta’s solo art exhibit at the Hinkle Memorial Library Gallery, on display now until March 3. To view her work online, visit Ivycreativedesigns.com.
Among the many values that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. cherished and encouraged throughout his lifetime was that of service to others. Embodying the legacy that Dr. King left behind, Alfred State students, faculty, and staff all devote their time and efforts to make their community and the world a better place.
One way in which Alfred State pays tribute to Dr. King is by honoring those who represent his spirit of service. This year, the college will host its seventh annual Spirit of Service Award Ceremony at 5 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Alfred Village Hall. This ceremony continues to be a collaborative program between Alfred State and Alfred University.
Each year during the ceremony, the college presents a student, a faculty or staff member, and a community member with a Spirit of Service Award, which recognizes and celebrates those in the Greater Alfred community who demonstrate a strong commitment to serving others. The award is intended to honor people who are actively living out the principles Martin Luther King Jr. stood for, including equality, social justice, community, and service.
Last year’s recipients were 11 students (seven from Alfred State and four from Alfred University) who had joined the A.E. Crandall Hook and Ladder Company for volunteer fire and ambulance service; Matthew Ryan, Alfred State senior director of Residential Life; and community member Melissa Jusianiec. David Snyder, access services coordinator at Alfred University’s Herrick Library and the Alfred Sun publisher, was presented with the 2016 Alfred University Faculty/Staff Spirit of Service Award. Alfred University student Robert Graves, an art and design major from Alfred Station, was presented with the 2016 Alfred University Student Spirit of Service Award.
The college also recognizes students, faculty, and staff who demonstrate leadership through civic engagement by presenting the College Council Leadership through Civic Engagement Award and the Newman Civic Fellows Award.
Examples of some of the civic engagement opportunities that Alfred State is a part of include Celebrate Service Celebrate Allegany, a day of community service projects that take place throughout Allegany County. In the fall semester, Building Trades students also traveled to New Orleans and Scottsboro, AL, to provide skilled service alongside community partners as part of the Semester in the South program. During the 2015-2016 academic year, students performed approximately 80,000 hours of community service through class- based applied learning and co-curricular programs.