Not long after the sound of pomp and circumstance rings through the halls of high school graduation ceremonies, some of those same students and parents are packing the car and heading to Alfred State for orientation.
While the number of high school graduates in the region has been declining, thanks to recruitment efforts that are attracting students from an ever-increasing radius, Alfred State is experiencing record numbers at orientation. In July, a total of 1,272 students, parents, and siblings came for orientation, including one session that peaked at 268 student participants, which is larger than any single orientation session in decades.
“Many of the students and parents come here focused on our school’s track record for graduates going on to successful careers, with 99 percent either employed or choosing to continue their education,” said Deborah Goodrich, associate vice president for Enrollment Management. “We have a wide variety of in-demand majors from which to choose, and at orientation our goal is to ensure that these families are on the right track from day one to make their college years pay off for the future.”
Through a series of six sessions, with many participants spending the night and some arriving by bus from New York City, they all converge on Alfred State’s campus. Some parents arrive apprehensive about their child leaving home. Others may come to Alfred with a spring in their step as orientation marks the beginning of an “empty nest” with no children left at home. But all of those parents and students at Alfred State’s orientation come armed with questions and lots of them.
“I’m not sure which group has more questions, the parents or students,” said Goodrich. “The start of college is life-changing for both. And we have an incredible team assembled to answer all questions, so that when school begins in late August, the transition will be easier. In particular, our student orientation leaders help inform those who are not familiar with Alfred State and perhaps unfamiliar with the area, to make the campus comfortable, friendly, and welcoming to our diverse incoming class.”
The orientation leaders are also a diverse group of 14 students who arrived on campus for their first time not so long ago. These students are athletes, Greeks, club members, and student government representatives. Orientation leaders are selected to assist the transition onto campus, stress the importance of thoughtful decisions for academic choices, and encourage students to engage in activities, clubs, and passions. Alfred State offers more than 100 clubs and organizations to match a wide variety of interests.
“Of course studying and achieving your degree is paramount for launching your career,” said Goodrich. “At Alfred State, we also encourage students to develop new interests, leadership skills, and lifelong friendships outside of the classroom. Those attending orientation are often amazed by all that is available to do in our small college town.”
Located within the beautiful natural surroundings of New York’s Southern Tier, many activities and interests at Alfred State naturally revolve around enjoying the environment.
The college is also dedicated to environmental stewardship and advancing the principles of sustainability. As a result, a number of environmentally conscious efforts have been or are being implemented at Alfred State.
According to Director of Facilities Operations Glenn Brubaker, one notable project that has recently been completed was replacing all of the outdoor parking lot and loop-road light fixtures on campus, the majority of which were 250-watt and 400-watt high-pressure sodium fixtures.
“We replaced all of those with LED heads, resulting in a 60-percent savings in energy and maintenance costs,” Brubaker said. “We’ve also submitted a proposal to procure new LED fixtures for all of the exterior lighting on the campus buildings.”
Other examples of completed sustainability projects include the Zero Energy Home Laboratory on the Wellsville campus, as well as the Bergey Grid-Tie 10 kW wind turbine located near the outdoor athletic complex on the Alfred campus that offsets the power consumption of Pioneer Stadium.
The college also has a larger Northern Power Systems 100 kW wind turbine, which produces enough energy to power 15 average American homes annually.
“The energy produced offsets energy consumption for several of the college’s smaller energy accounts through a remote net metering agreement,” Brubaker said. “This remote net metering process allows us to apply energy credits we earn from the energy the wind turbine generates to other utility accounts owned by the campus. Alfred State was the first college within the SUNY system to implement a remote net metering system on campus.”
As for projects that are currently underway, the college’s boiler decentralization project is now in its third year.
“Right now, we have a central heating plant with high-temperature hot water boilers that were installed in the 1960s and are very inefficient,” Brubaker said. “We are in the process of installing condensing boilers in each of the buildings on the Alfred campus and will see significant savings in gas consumption when the project is completed.”
Currently, the heating plant is still serving half of the buildings on the Alfred campus, while the other half of the buildings have new satellite boilers in them. If all goes as planned, according to Brubaker, that project should be completed by the start of the fall 2017 semester.
“We are also working on a multi-year and multi-phased renovation project at our largest residence hall,” he noted. “The Mackenzie Complex is a 1,200-bed residence hall built in the early 1970s. We are being energy conscious with new boilers, HVAC systems, controls, and new lighting throughout. The first phase is out for bid this summer, with construction to begin in October.”
Adding to the ways in which Alfred State students are preparing to become the leaders of tomorrow, the college will begin offering a leadership minor this coming fall semester.
The minor is intended to expose students to existing courses and experiential credits (internship or practicum experiences) at Alfred State that focus on and/or include leadership topics. These students will be introduced to the Social Change Model of Leadership and mentorship opportunities.
Although the minor will be administratively housed in the Business Department, a team of faculty and staff will help coordinate the program and advise students who register for it. Danielle Green, chair of the Business Department, said she is excited about this new offering.
“As the department continues to grow, we look to add new opportunities in the academic field of business,” she said. “This minor will provide an opportunity for both business and non-business students to acquire skills necessary to be leaders in their respective fields.”
Requiring a flexible 15 hours of credit, the minor will:
The backbone of the minor integrates Alfred State’s existing Emerging Pioneers Leadership Program (EPLP), which offers leadership development opportunities at three certificate levels for all students. The new minor and the EPLP are one of several leadership-centered offerings at the college, including the Civic Leadership Living Learning Community and Leadership Suites/Organizational Suites.
Alyshia Zurlick, assistant director of the Office of Student Engagement, said, it would be an understatement to say that the Alfred State community is excited about this opportunity.
“One of the single greatest determining factors of college and workplace success is the ability to be a highly effective leader,” Zurlick said. “Leadership skills are valued and respected and have become increasingly pursued in the workforce. The leadership minor will provide students with essential leadership qualities and principles that will enhance and solidify success both in the classroom and the workplace.”
While homeowners may alternate between praying for rain to turn their turf green, or cursing their lawn when it is growing too fast, for many people their interest in grass is merely a hobby. But there is a business, an industry, and even a science to be studied related to keeping things green, and Grasstravaganza is bringing together these experts from around the country.
Alfred State is hosting Grasstravaganza Aug. 4-6, an event for farmers, conservationists, and consumers who are interested in soil health, grazing, and sustainable agriculture. The theme is “Healthy Soils, Healthy Animals, Healthy Farms,” and will feature presentations by nationally recognized grazing and soil health experts.
“We are very fortunate to have Dr. Fred Provenza as our featured speaker,” said Phil Schroeder, chair of the Agriculture and Veterinary Technology Department. “His decades of groundbreaking research has led to many discoveries in livestock grazing behavior, foraging, and nutritional information important to both animals and humans. Attendees will not only be able to hear directly from this international leader, but have dinner and ask questions in less formal gatherings together.”
Attendees are invited to take tours of farms in West Sparta, Angelica, and Birdsall, as well as the college’s own 800-acre farm, which is home to horses, alpacas, swine, poultry, sheep, and both conventional and organic dairy herds.
“Our farm demonstrates just one way in which Alfred State is committed to preparing the farmers and conservationists of tomorrow, and we are proud and excited to be hosting an event like this for those who are already in these fields and are looking to learn even more,” said Dr. Skip Sullivan, president of Alfred State.
Additional speakers at Grasstravaganza include: Justin Morris, NRCS soil health specialist; Matt Ehrhart, director of Watershed Restoration at the Stroud Water Research Center, an independent research institution focused on stream and river ecology; Dr. Hue Karreman, a first-generation organic veterinarian; and Jeremy Engh, recognized for gourmet quality grass-fed beef production.
In addition to presentations from nationally known speakers, there will be specialized workshops and a trade show. For information or to register, call Karen Meade at 607-587-4714 or visit the conference website.
In today’s world, there are computers at every turn and people have come to rely on devices for commerce, communication, transportation, and virtually every aspect of their lives. While this sort of convenience has its upsides, it may also mean a dream environment for hackers, and have the potential to turn into a nightmare for everyone else. That’s why Alfred State students are looking to thwart that criminal activity.
Recent examples of massive data breaches include: 145 million records stolen from eBay in 2014, 80 million accounts compromised at Anthem health insurance in 2015, 76 million bank records taken from JP Morgan Chase in 2014, and 56 million debit and credit cards compromised in 2014 at Home Depot.
This has led to a heightened awareness of vulnerabilities among the public, and a greater demand for professionals who can stop these attacks. This requires education and training, which Alfred State is providing in order to produce professionals who can help make the world more secure from hackers.
Formerly known as “information security and assurance,” the college’s Bachelor of Technology degree in cyber security is designed to prepare graduates to enter the workforce as an information security professional, with a special emphasis in network and host security, secure programming, secure database applications, mobile device security, and cloud security. Courses ranging from security to programming to language sequences help these students to meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s information security industry.
One of the reasons that Alfred State is such a terrific place for studying cyber security is the fact that students aren’t just learning the theory. They’re putting it into practice building networks, firewalls, access control lists, and more.
“In my classes, when I tell you to build a network, I expect you to build a network,” said Scott O’Connor, associate professor in the Computer and Information Technology Department and coordinator of the cyber security program. “The students are building an active directory with 16 servers running in our net lab environment and it’s running off a hypervisor, which is exactly the same thing they would do if they got a job working at a corporation.”
Students also perform security audits of the various buildings on campus. In their final semester, they are required to take a semester-long internship in which they complete supervised field work in a selected business, industry, government, or educational setting.
Furthermore, Alfred State has a long-standing Cisco Academy affiliation and in the past year became one of the first Palo Alto Networks Academies in the world.
Outside of the curriculum, the college also has a student club called the Alfred State Information Security Team (ASIST). This club encourages the exploration of topics related to information security and ethical hacking. ASIST also features weekly presentations that all students are encouraged to attend.
Additionally, ASIST students have honed their skills in a number of cyber defense competitions, such the CyberSEED: Cybsersecurity, Education, and Diversity Challenge Week, and the Northeast Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NECCDC).
This past December, the club hosted a Cyber Security Capture the Flag Competition, in which four schools participated. The competition allowed participants to understand the technology and thought process of hackers, while also sharpening their security skills and learning new techniques.
With so many opportunities for learning, it’s safe to say that Alfred State is doing its part to produce graduates who are well prepared to help make the cyber universe safer.
“Through their hands-on learning experiences, their internships, the competitions, the security audits, and more, our students are receiving the knowledge and experience that employers are seeking,” O’Connor said. “They know what to expect on the job because they’ve done it already here, and that knowledge and experience will only grow and, as a result, further serve our field’s mission of making the world safer from cyber warfare.”