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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.