Perhaps the best part about being an educator is sharing one’s knowledge of and passion for a particular subject with others.
As assistant professors and co-founders of a group to encourage female student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), Dr. Danielle Bond and Dr. Tabitha Sprau Coulter are igniting the imaginations of young women by showing students how rewarding and interesting engineering can be.
In August 2014, the two engineers’ paths crossed when they became assistant professors at Alfred State. During their very first semester, they co-founded a group for engineering students that came to be known as Women Engineers are Pioneers (WEP), which encourages young people to be interested in STEM fields of study, especially young women.
According to Bond, WEP has two main goals, the first of which is connecting female students in engineering and technology programs at Alfred State to enable collaboration, community, and support. The second goal involves leading and participating in outreach events to attract young people to engineering and technology programs.
The club, which has a core group of mostly but not exclusively female engineering students, has five student officers and meets on a weekly basis. It has also teamed up with the SAE Baja Club to earn a leadership suite in the Student Leadership Center.
Bond said she encourages women to consider engineering because it typically provides many job opportunities with interesting work and good salaries.
“Obviously these things are good for anyone, regardless of gender,” she said. “I would also say, for anyone career-shopping, so to speak, that engineers are creative problem-solvers who can make a difference in the world.”
Sprau Coulter noted that the goal in founding the club was “to provide opportunities, as well as to show young women that they can be successful and that there are other women in the field.” However, both she and Bond stressed that the club is open to anyone who wishes to join.
Both Bond’s and Sprau Coulter’s paths to becoming educators at Alfred State began in their native state of Pennsylvania. Hailing from Sweet Valley, Sprau Coulter graduated from Lafayette College in 2007 with her bachelor’s degree in engineering, and a minor in architecture. She then enrolled at Penn State, where she received her master’s in 2009 and her PhD in 2014, both of which are in architectural engineering.
Professionally, Sprau Coulter provided consulting services as an energy modeler for a small engineering design firm at Penn State. Afterward, she went on to work at KlingStubbins, an architecture, engineering, interior design, and planning firm headquartered in Philadelphia, which was acquired by Jacobs Engineering Group in 2011.
A Pittsburgh native, Bond received her bachelor’s degree in engineering with a minor in educational studies from Swarthmore College in 2006. She then earned her PhD in mechanical engineering in 2014 from the University of Pittsburgh.
Bond worked as a mechanical engineer at M-R/Innoveers LLC and URS Corporation before taking on engineering teaching positions at the University of Pittsburgh and Robert Morris University.
Through their efforts and outreach, Sprau Coulter and Bond are leading the way for future generations to discover the exciting world of engineering and to share their passion for the field with others as they both have done.
A new cooling system invented at Alfred State gained inspiration from the human body to find a unique solution. The same way sweating cools body temperature, this new design can improve chilling efficiency by how it handles waste heat.
Current air conditioning and refrigeration technologies, based on hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, have improved lives by providing people with an easy way to cool their homes and food. However, compared to carbon dioxide (CO2), HFC refrigerants can have a more than 2,000 times greater global warming potential.
“Government and environmental organizations have been pushing hard to phase out the HFC refrigerants that we use today, but so far they haven’t been successful because there are very few good alternatives,” said Dr. Jon Owejan, assistant professor of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology at Alfred State.
Owejan and Nathan DeMario, of South Wales, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering technology, aim to change that. They have invented an advanced cooling system that doesn’t require a chemistry degree to understand how it works; it uses water instead of refrigerants to carry heat out of buildings.
“It works based on the same principle at play when you sweat,” said Owejan, who is the founder of the Energy Storage and Conversion (ESC) lab at Alfred State, where his research focuses on energy conversion devices. As you perspire, water evaporates from your skin, carrying away excess body heat and cooling you down.
“We are using that same concept, but we put our system in a vacuum so that evaporation happens much faster,” said Owejan. “Then we get rid of the water vapor, which carries away the heat used to make the liquid water evaporate, by sending it into the outdoors through a membrane that is permeable only to water. It’s an enhanced evaporative system that is very energy efficient, small in size, and uses no toxic refrigerants.”
Owejan, who previously worked as a fuel-cell researcher at General Motors, where he received 29 patents for his inventions, noted that his new cooling system is particularly useful for mid-sized buildings and facilities such as data centers that generate lots of waste heat. This is because Owejan’s system uses the waste heat that would previously have been dumped outside as an unusable by-product to accelerate the transfer of water vapor across the membrane, thereby increasing its already high cooling efficiency.
According to Owejan, larger facilities can take advantage of waste heat in a similar way by installing absorption chillers, but smaller companies can’t afford the high costs of installing and maintaining these systems. “Once you talk to customers who experience the pain and frustration of having to dump expensive heat energy outside during the summer, our proposition to utilize that waste heat becomes very appealing. It will save them a lot of money in the long run.”
Following selection through a competitive application process, the team is currently participating in NEXUS-NY—a NYSERDA-sponsored clean energy start-up accelerator program that has assisted more than 30 entrepreneurial teams across the state with financial, business, and educational support.
NEXUS-NY requires these teams to identify and seek input from potential customers to better position their technology for a successful entry into the marketplace. As a result of this exercise, the SUNY Alfred team pivoted its marketing focus from the environmental benefits of their water-based technology to the economic advantages of their unique architecture that leverages waste heat to improve chilling efficiency.
Now busy building a proof-of-concept prototype, the team plans to form a start-up company, called Phase Innovations, to commercialize the product. DeMario is working to integrate all of the parts to produce a standalone cooling unit. He is also testing various membrane materials to determine which ones will provide the optimal characteristics.
“Current membranes are expensive,” said DeMario. “We believe that by designing our system based on less expensive materials, we will significantly reduce the overall cost of ownership, including both purchase and maintenance of the system.”
Beyond the research, DeMario says working on the project has been an incredible experience. “The NEXUS-NY program and mentorship has made me appreciate how much value can be gained by paying attention to the business case early on. No matter where my career goes, I will use this experience to integrate customer feedback into my engineering specifications early in the development process.”
Owejan agrees that the relationship with NEXUS-NY, as well as with Steven Wood, assistant director for innovation services at the Research Foundation for SUNY and entrepreneurial lead for SUNY Alfred’s NEXUS-NY team, have been the key to their success so far.
“They really forced us to go after the customer and understand what the customer needed,” he said. “In fact, they asked us to contact 50 potential customers. We wouldn’t have had the confidence to do that without the mentorship of NEXUS-NY and the Research Foundation.”
NEXUS-NY Executive Director Doug Buerkle noted that while many interesting and innovative technologies are invented in university research labs, very few ever find their way into commercial use.
“Our mission is to promote promising, research-derived energy innovations and catalyze the formation of start-up companies in New York,” said Buerkle. “By helping entrepreneurs to get on the right track early on, we significantly increase their chances of commercial success.”
Owejan said the next step for his cooling system is to develop a strategic partnership with a large air conditioning manufacturer. “Ideally, we would shift a lot of our current design work to their engineers so they can get it ready for manufacturing,” he said. “Then we will continue to do what we do best, research and development of next-generation prototypes that are focused on improved cost, performance, and durability.”
Following its initial success a year ago, Alfred State’s Pioneers Drive for the Development Fund golf tournament was again a “hole-in-one” this year, raising $27,000 and including 31 teams.
Held June 17 at the Twin Hickory Golf Club in Hornell, the second annual tournament began with a 10 a.m. shotgun start and featured a Captain and Crew format. The members of the winning team were Steve Smith, Charise Nankivell, Mikey Smith, and Kevin Mazanec.
Trish Haggerty, director of Annual Giving at Alfred State, noted that the tournament was held on a picturesque day for golf, and that teams enjoyed hours of fun, competition, and camaraderie, followed by a dinner and awards banquet held at the Main Place in Hornell.
“This year’s tournament was a huge success,” Haggerty said. “Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and teams, we raised more than double what we raised last year.”
The top three teams took home $500, $300, and $200, respectively. In addition, a Weber gas grill was awarded to the drive closest to the pin on hole 4, and other prizes included drivers, putters, cash, a 50/50 drawing, and more than 60 door prizes.
All proceeds from the tournament benefited the Alfred State Development Fund, Inc., which raises funds for the college, primarily for student scholarships, new technology, student athletes, and many other needs. Numerous organizations, businesses, and individuals supported the event, either through volunteering, sponsorship, or donating prizes.
Event sponsors ($2,500) included Auxiliary Campus Enterprises Services, Inc.; Laborer’s Local #621; Mach Architecture, PC; and Pathfinder Engineers and Architects. Eagle Sponsors ($1,000) were Alesco Advisors, LLC; Kenworth Northeast Group; Liberty Mutual; Otis Eastern; and West Herr Automotive.
Alfred State and the Center for Community Education and Training (CCET) will be offering a 350-hour credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor Training Program beginning Aug. 1.
All courses within the program will be offered online, with the exception of “Skills Seminars,” which allow students to practice what they have learned. Course topics range from overview of the addictions field; to individual counseling; to assessment, evaluation, and problem identification; and more.
During the three, six-hour Skills Seminars, a New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse-approved instructor will meet with a group of students to perform mock counseling sessions, review case studies, and provide hands-on instruction in the 12 core functions of a substance abuse counselor. The seminars will be held at Alfred State.
The program also includes a clinical internship component if the student is not currently working in the field. Students must finish the program within one year of application in order to receive a certificate of completion.
Those who complete the 350 hours of education and training through Alfred State are eligible to submit the Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC)/CASAC-Trainee Application for approval to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).
Wendy Dresser-Recktenwald, senior director of Human Resources and the Center for Community Education and Training, and CASAC program director, said, “We have been working on this program for a full year, carefully transitioning traditionally offered course work to an online format. This allows us the ability to reach out to nontraditional students who can take the course work on their own time from anywhere. There is such a need in our three-county area for credentialed counselors, especially in light of the opioid epidemic.”
For more information or to register, contact Tammy Woods-Edwards at the Center for Community Education and Training by calling at 607-587-4017 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
After winning honors at the state level this past April, Alfred State students brought home national awards from the world’s largest showcase of skilled trades, the 52nd annual National SkillsUSA Championship.
Trevor Huntley, masonry, Conklin, earned a bronze medal in the masonry category for placing third against competitors from across the country. Andrea Koston, culinary arts: baking, production and management, Rochester, also earned a top 10 national finish, coming in fifth place in the commercial baking category.
Dr. Craig Clark, vice president for Economic Development, said, “The SkillsUSA competition is a national event where students have the opportunity to compete with the best in the USA in their trade. Our students have done well over the years, and obtaining a third in the nation in masonry and a fifth in commercial baking showcases both our students and the programs at Alfred State.”
Held June 20-24 in Louisville, KY, the championship was the highlight of the National Leadership and Skills Conference, which featured more than 15,000 students, teachers, education leaders, and representatives from 600 national corporations, trade associations, businesses, and labor unions. The championship included 100 hands-on skill and leadership competitions.
Representing Alfred State in addition to Huntley and Koston were Ryan Balcerzak, heavy equipment, truck and diesel technician, Elma; Scott Erdman, automotive service technician, Jeffersonville; Mahogany Lemon, culinary arts: baking, production and management, Buffalo; James McAdam, drafting/CAD, North Tonawanda; and Timothy Tripp, autobody repair, Little Genesee.
Pictured is masonry student Trevor Huntley, of Conklin, center, who finished third in the masonry category at the 52nd annual National SkillsUSA Championship in Louisville, KY, along with Dr. Craig Clark, Alfred State vice president for Economic Development, left, and Alfred State President Dr. Skip Sullivan.
Dr. Earl Packard, assistant professor in the Mathematics and Physics Department, was selected to participate in the College Board’s Annual AP Reading in calculus.
This was Packard’s 14th consecutive year of serving in this capacity. He was one of about 900 high school and college mathematics educators from around the world who scored the free-response questions for approximately 435,000 students who took the AP calculus exam.
The Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies – with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement or both – while still in high school. Through AP courses in 37 subjects, each culminating in a rigorous exam, students learn to analyze complex problems, construct solid arguments, and see many sides of an issue – skills that prepare them for college and beyond.
Each June, AP teachers and college faculty members from around the world gather in the United States to evaluate and score the free-response sections of the AP Exams. AP readers are high school and college educators who represent many of the world’s leading academic institutions. The AP Reading is a unique forum in which an academic dialogue between educators is both fostered and encouraged.
“The Reading draws upon the talents of some of the finest teachers and professors that the world has to offer,” said Trevor Packer, senior vice president, AP and Instruction at the College Board. “It fosters professionalism, allows for the exchange of ideas, and strengthens the commitment to students and to teaching. We are very grateful for the contributions of talented educators like Dr. Packard.”
Packard, who joined the Alfred State faculty in 2003, holds a doctorate in mathematics from Tulane University, a Bachelor of Science of Education in mathematics from Mansfield University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in music education from Mansfield State College. Prior to coming to Alfred, Packard taught at Kutztown University (PA) and the University of Arkansas, Monticello.
BestColleges.com, a nationally recognized source of college planning information, has named Alfred State to its list of Best Online Colleges in New York.
The school came in third in the statewide rankings, which were created using a methodology that weighs affordability, enrollment, graduation rates, student outcomes, and other data curated from the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES). Such rankings are designed to help prospective students explore their academic options in New York State and determine which accredited postsecondary institution is a suitable match for their budget, degree pathway, and career goals.
BestColleges.com notes that, “One of the benefits of enrolling in an online program at Alfred State is that some courses have several start dates each year, giving students the flexibility they need to complete a degree while working full time or part time. Every online student has access to the Online Education Office, which provides online tutoring sessions and other types of academic support.”
Alfred State’s online programs include coding and reimbursement specialist (certificate), court and realtime reporting (AAS degree), court reporting and captioning (certificate), health information technology (AAS), nursing (BS), and technology management (BBA).
“Alfred State is committed to providing exceptional online courses by maintaining small classes that are highly interactive,” said Dr. Kristin Poppo, provost. “Students also have great access to our strong faculty.”
To view a complete list of the rankings, visit www.bestcolleges.com/features/best-online-colleges-in-new-york. This honor comes after AffordableCollegesOnline.org recently tabulated their 2016 rankings, and also crowned Alfred State in the top three among New York online colleges.
Retirees of Alfred State were honored recently at the college's annual recognition luncheon.
Faculty and staff members who retired this year include Mary Bordeaux, Almond; Leon Buckwalter, Hinsdale; Jacalyn Clemons, Wellsville; Michael Cobb, Alfred; Joseph Damrath, Hornell; Donald Davison, Hornell; Christine Drum, Hornell; Larry Drumm, Almond; Roger Drum, Alfred; Roger Elias, Wellsville; Michael Foster, Hornell; Michelle Green, Clay; Sandra Kinnerney, Almond; Tracy Locke, Canandaigua; Charlene McGregor, Canisteo; Linnea Rassman, Belmont; Debra Root, Scio; Edward Tezak, Wellsville; Doreen Vance, Hornell; and James VanCise, Canisteo.