Category: Teaching

ERE faculty, in collaboration with ERE student-club leaders, coordinated an orientation retreat for freshman at ESF property in the Adirondacks, along Rich Lake near Newcomb, NY. The students spent the weekend in October engaging in a variety of activities, including bonfire games, a hike up Goodnow Mountain, canoe voyages across Rich Lake, visits to the Adirondack Ecological Center, and homework sessions on the beach. Faculty and instructors in attendance included Chuck Kroll, Chris Somerlot, Lindi Quackenbush, and Ted Endreny. Students who represented the ERE Club and coordinated many of the activities were led by Maria Scicchitano and Ben Taylor, Emma Averse, Amanda Chudow, Ariel Roy, Haley Canham, and Nidhi Baid.

Students, Faculty, and family members at Goodnow Mtn Fire Tower.

Students, Faculty, and family members at Goodnow Mtn Fire Tower.

ERE is proud of our high quality students and we work to build strong social networks within the freshman cohort as well as between freshman and the ERE faculty, staff, alumni, and older students to help retain those freshman in the ERE major. This Adirondack retreat is a signature event in our social networking effort, using ESF property to help establish the students sense of place.

Canoe launch onto Rich Lake.

Canoe launch onto Rich Lake.


Signaling our allegiance from Goodnow Mountain bedrock.

Signaling our allegiance from Goodnow Mountain bedrock.


Gathering of the first wave of students along Rich Lake bonfire.

Gathering of the first wave of students along Rich Lake bonfire.

Calculus and biology homework on the beach, Saturday afteroon.

Calculus and biology homework on the beach, Saturday afteroon.


Our ESF ERE department is prepared to welcome students trained in the Next Generation Science standards, which target proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Cutting edge engineering students need STEM proficiencies to best achieve their professional goals. Beginning with the discipline of science, engineers will use science as a toolkit, accessing it for existing knowledge and for knowledge building; paraphrasing the National Research Council (NRC), knowledge building is a process of extending, refining, and revising knowledge. To share more about how the NRC plans to train of our next generation scientists and engineers, I am Reblogging from www.NextGenScience.Org ….

The National Research Council’s (NRC) Framework describes a vision of what it means to be proficient in science; it rests on a view of science as both a body of knowledge and an evidence-based, model and theory building enterprise that continually extends, refines, and revises knowledge. It presents three dimensions that will be combined to form each standard:

Dimension 1: Practices

The practices describe behaviors that scientists engage in as they investigate and build models and theories about the natural world and the key set of engineering practices that engineers use as they design and build models and systems. The NRC uses the term practices instead of a term like “skills” to emphasize that engaging in scientific investigation requires not only skill but also knowledge that is specific to each practice. Part of the NRC’s intent is to better explain and extend what is meant by “inquiry” in science and the range of cognitive, social, and physical practices that it requires.

Although engineering design is similar to scientific inquiry, there are significant differences. For example, scientific inquiry involves the formulation of a question that can be answered through investigation, while engineering design involves the formulation of a problem that can be solved through design. Strengthening the engineering aspects of the Next Generation Science Standards will clarify for students the relevance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the four STEM fields) to everyday life.

Dimension 2: Crosscutting Concepts

Crosscutting concepts have application across all domains of science. As such, they are a way of linking the different domains of science. They include: Patterns, similarity, and diversity; Cause and effect; Scale, proportion and quantity; Systems and system models; Energy and matter; Structure and function; Stability and change. The Framework emphasizes that these concepts need to be made explicit for students because they provide an organizational schema for interrelating knowledge from various science fields into a coherent and scientifically-based view of the world.

Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas

Disciplinary core ideas have the power to focus K–12 science curriculum, instruction and assessments on the most important aspects of science. To be considered core, the ideas should meet at least two of the following criteria and ideally all four:

  • Have broad importance across multiple  sciences or engineering disciplines or be a key organizing concept of a single discipline;
  • Provide a key tool for understanding or investigating more complex ideas and solving problems;
  • Relate to the interests and life experiences of students or be connected to societal or personal concerns that require scientific or technological knowledge;
  • Be teachable and learnable over multiple grades at increasing levels of depth and sophistication.

Disciplinary ideas are grouped in four domains: the physical sciences; the life sciences; the earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology and applications of science.

The SUNY ESF ERE program shares with the National Academy of Engineering a commitment to maintain excellence in undergraduate training. One training initiative is the development of capstone, co-op, and course programs that bring students real world experiences, often through partnerships with industry, agencies, community groups, or other organizations. These experiences are a blend of teaching and research and outreach and provide high level training through inquiry and experience outside of the classroom. The results of these endeavors are better trained engineers and new solutions for society – benefiting all involved in the partnership.

Ideas for such training are provided in the NAE report, Infusing Real World Experiences into Engineering Education, which summarizes this training initiative and provides a comparative framework for showcasing the excellence of ERE’s capstone and course program, ERE Planning and Design. The reason ERE was not featured in this report is the NAE could only fit 29 programs into the document, and ERE was represented by similar programs. To achieve greater success in ERE Planning and Design our department plans to grow our external partnerships, and perhaps reach the success of Harvey Mudd College’s capstone program featured in the report. More on that effort later. For now, here is the NAE report.

NAE Report Cover Image

NAE Report Cover Image

From the NAE report: “The aim of this report is to encourage enhanced richness and relevance of the undergraduate engineering education experience, and thus produce better-prepared and more globally competitive graduates, by providing practical guidance for incorporating real world experience in US engineering programs. The report, a collaborative effort of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD), builds on two NAE reports on The Engineer of 2020(NAE, 2004; 2005) that cited the importance of grounding engineering education in real world experience. This project also aligns with other NAE efforts in engineering education, such as the Grand Challenges of Engineering, Changing the Conversation, and Frontiers of Engineering Education.

“The Real World Engineering Education (RWEE) committee invited nominations from US universities and colleges that offer programs in undergraduate engineering, some of which involved partnerships with other types of institutions, corporations, or community members. The committee gave preference to 4-year programs that could be adopted or adapted at other institutions. Nominating institutions were asked to provide a description of the program, its start date, anticipated and actual outcomes, original and current funding, number and diversity of students and faculty involved in the program, partners, and methods of assessment (to facilitate ongoing improvement of new programs).

“The number of nominated programs—89, at 73 public and private universities and colleges around the country—indicates the importance many institutions place on the incorporation of real world experiences for their engineering students. Furthermore, we are pleased to note that, although some of the nominated programs have been operational for several decades, over half were launched since 2006, which suggests an increasing interest in enhancing US undergraduate engineering education through the inclusion of practical, real world experience.

“The 29 selections described in the following pages feature a diverse range of model programs in terms of institution type, program category and scope, geographic location, and longevity. The report also includes a section on potential barriers to implementation, as described by engineering and engineering technology deans, together with suggested methods of overcoming those barriers.

“We are excited about the potential of this report to promote awareness and adoption of programs that incorporate real world experiences in engineering education. We believe the report will be useful to both academic and industry professionals interested in engaging and better preparing engineering students for the workplace and for competition in the global economy. “

The ERE faculty and staff met this month to discuss a new article, “Undergraduate Engineering Curriculum: the Ultimate Design Challenge”, by S. Ambrose, published in the The Bridge, 16-23, Summer 2013, a periodical of the National Academy of Engineering.  The meeting was organized to consider how changes in SUNY Seamless Transfer paths and ABET program criteria for environmental and similarly named engineering programs for 2015 might be incorporated into the ERE curriculum along with new findings for best teaching practices.

Ambrose’s The Bridge article recommends creating the curriculum by using skills of systems thinking, critical problem solving, and design, based on concurrently using 6 key findings from learning research on best practices for designing curricula. For each of the 6 key findings on best practices, I summarize below the practice, its goal, and the how of implementation.

1. Finding 1: Context and Continual Integration Promotes Transfer of Knowledge & Skills. Goal –continually engage students in integration of knowledge and skills across context and time on tasks the students’ value. How–acquire component knowledge and skills, practice them to point when they can combine them fluently, then use them when appropriate.

2. Finding 2: Early Exposure Lays the Foundation for Future Learning. Goal –introduce engineering students to design in 1st year to expose them to thinking like an engineer and motivate learning. How–use design courses each year to reinforce design is open ended and engineering challenges extend beyond domains (i.e., sponsored by agencies, NGOs, communities). First year is more conceptual, the last year is more technical. Develop skills to: structure ill-structured problems and decompose problems; implement systems perspective; identify parameters and constraints; work in teams.

3. Finding 3: Meaningful Classroom Engagement Leads to Deeper Learning. Goal –enhance learning with deliberate practice coupled with targeted feedback in and out of the classroom, providing opportunity to apply concepts or principles, and consider alternative approaches or designs. How– to achieve realistic practice and feedback then accomplish meaningful engagement in many ways, including: peer instruction in conceptual questions; realistic case study problems connecting theory and practice; problem based learning using analytical and integrative thinking; flipped or inverted classrooms; collaborative and cooperative learning.

4. Finding 4: Reflection Connects Thinking and Doing. Goal –continually interweave thinking and doing to capture meaning of learning experience and establish structured reflection. How–structure reflection with low stakes writing and mathematical assignments (i.e., focus on concepts, not correcting for writing or mathematical errors): ask students to express what they are learning and how it connects with what they already know, and how they might use the knowledge in the future; create e-portfolios allowing students to assemble and showcase evidence of learning.

5. Finding 5: Metacognition Supports the Development of Lifelong Learning Skills. Goal –students continue to learn independently and are disabused of the presumption that engineers work only on problems that can be solved using memorized facts and procedures. How–engage students in metacognition, defined as the process of reflection and directing one’s own thinking. Self-directed learning requires students: assessing the task at hand, including goals and constraints; evaluating their own knowledge and skills including strengths and weaknesses; planning their approach in a way that accounts for the current situation; applying various strategies to enact the plan and monitoring their progress; reflecting on the degree to which their current approach is working so they can adjust and restart the cycle as needed.

6. Finding 6: Experimental Learning Opportunities Connect Theory & Practice in Authentic Settings. Goal –create an educational environment that weaves the connections back and forth across the formal and experiential curriculum. How–engage students in experiential learning activities, such as co-ops or service learning, so they apply what they have learned before entering the workforce.


Brian L. Yoder recently reported on the top ten schools ranked by percentage of women awarded bachelor’s degrees, and number one was Smith at 95%, number 10 was Yale at 38.2%, and ERE is now averaging 40% and in 9th place, and in good company with Franklin Olin College, Howard, MIT, Tuskegee, CalTech, and Harvey Mudd to name other top 10 schools. Our only surprise is the article did not include ERE – an understandable oversight given we are a department and not an entire school. Nonetheless, this is a rank we are working to promote. The ESF and ERE community certainly does not side with the at times brilliant and misguided Larry Summers that we should expect fewer than 50% enrollment of women in engineering.

You can read more about this important issue Yoder’s a Databytes article, “Women in Engineering“, published by the American Society for Engineering Education informative Prism Magazine . As reported by Yoder, Environmental Engineering is the top engineering field for women, approaching 50% of all degrees in a survey of 905 degrees awarded in 2012.

Women in Engineering ranking of Top 10 Schools based on Degrees awarded to Women. ESF's ERE program would be #9 if included in the survey!

Women in Engineering ranking of Top 10 Schools based on Degrees awarded to Women. ESF’s ERE program would be #9 if included in the survey!

Recruiting, retaining, and graduating more female engineers is a critical issue for securing a better planet and achieving socially, ecologically, and economically sustainable engineering designs. Here is simple reason to bring more women into engineering – design is inherently about considering alternatives, and proper consideration needs to include perspectives of 50% of our population, hence women are needed in engineering. Many programs have fewer than 10% female enrollment and graduates.

Female high school graduates are certainly earning their place in engineering programs by achieving the entrance requirements in test scores and grades; in fact Richard Whitmere, an educational researcher, suggests boys may need affirmative action to out-compete girls for 50% or more of the available openings in college admissions.  There is ongoing research on differences and similarities between male and female learning styles, as well as bridging across styles, as described in Dr. Guian’s book, “Boys and Girls Learn Differently”, which is discussed on a blog site advocating for male students. According to Whitmire’s book, “Why Boys Fail”, the K-12 educational system demands more reading and writing than boys are ready to engage, which may partly explain the history of gender separation in engineering if it’s emphasis on math and science had provided a refuge for boys. Communication is also emphasized in engineering, and by increasing female enrollment in engineering education we collectively enrich the whole.

Need we say more.

Need we say more.

While the ERE program is proud of its 40% female enrollment at the undergraduate level, we are not content. Our goal is to grow this number to 50%, and perhaps keep going if women out compete men for positions. Thankfully, we have a large percentage of women in our graduate programs, as well. Dr. Endreny has 7 female graduate students in his graduate team of 12, and the scholarly contributions achieved by this gender balanced team are rich, diverse, and fun! Part of the fun is captured by the GoldieBlox toy company, designed to enhance spatial reasoning in girls, and the Sesame Street STEM campaign geared toward sharing with girls how cool engineering can be as a career.


Sesame Street Often Says it Best.

Sesame Street Often Says it Best.

ERE’s recent outreach efforts have made engineering fun and encouraged the next generation to engage this excellent profession!

ERE's Paul Szemkow oversees fountain design and performance testing.

ERE’s Paul Szemkow oversees fountain design and performance testing.

2013-04-22 11.23.08 2013-04-22 11.23.59

Our ERE program is proud of our very own ESF earning the #6 ranking for Colleges Saving the Planet. We have great company, with rank 1 to 5 going to MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and CalTech. The commendation focuses on energy resources, and we would likely be higher if rankings considered our strengths in water resources engineering, geospatial engineering, and ecological engineering. The review says ESF “…offers this soup-to-nuts undergraduate degree for those who want to change the way we find, develop and sell energy. Students build management skills while focusing on issues of energy resources, markets, energy security, and energy policy. Students divide time between the classroom and the laboratory at ESF’s Syracuse campus”

Read more about this story from Online College Database

ESF has excellent company in its "Saving the Planet" leadership

ESF has excellent company in its “Saving the Planet” leadership

The Online College Database ranking says, “Students motivated to make a difference have a near-endless list of colleges and degree programs from which to choose. Yet for those with a passion for planet Earth, green science, green technology and, yes, green law schools across the nation offer innovative programs that turn out graduates armed for the environmental challenges ahead. Even traditional fields such as business administration and manufacturing are adopting cutting-edge green methodologies, allowing students to create hybrid careers where the jobs are.

These 50 colleges and universities not only host students in the lecture hall, they put them to work in research laboratories where scholars practice real-time, ecological heroism.”

Professor Ted Endreny and his PhD students Tom Taggart and Emily Stephan are giving a free webinar on using iTree Hydro for simulating Green Infrastructure this June 27 from 2:30 to 4 pm EDT.  Justin Kenney, the Vermont Green Infrastructure Coordinator who arranged this webinar, wrote this about the event: “i-Tree Hydro is a stand alone application designed to simulate the effects of changes in tree and impervious cover characteristics within a defined watershed on stream flow and water quality. It was designed specifically to handle urban vegetation effects so urban natural resource managers and urban planners can quantify the impacts of changes in tree and impervious cover on local hydrology to aid in management and planning decisions. Researchers at the State University of New York in Syracuse are using i-Tree Hydro to model the hydrologic impacts (water quality and quantity) of green infrastructure. Green infrastructure includes a variety of methods such as rain gardens, bioretention basins, and green roofs used to capture, infiltrate, and transpire rainfall and runoff. Using predominantly natural processes, green infrastructure can clean water, restore soils, landscapes, and receiving water, improve air temperature and quality, and fortify and sustain our economy.”

Images of various Green Infrastructure techniques.

Images of various Green Infrastructure techniques.

In 2010 Endreny, with the NYS DEC Green Infrastructure program and ESF Outreach, and funding from the USDA Forest Service, created an initial demo on how iTree Hydro can simulate Green Infrastructure. ESF student Kelly Metz performed much of this work, and it is now available as a iTree Hydro GI demo on the web.  ESF student Colin Bell was also involved in that research and developed the Green Infrastructure Calculator.

iTree Hydro is part of the iTree toolkit developed in partnership with the USDA Forest Service.

Use GoToMeeting to register.

ERE professor and Eagle Scout Doug Daley safely chaperoned students in our ERE Club to the SUNY ESF Adirondack Ecological Center (AEC) property on February 8, getting ahead of the Nor’easter, so they could engage in a weekend of fun and learning. Here is a message relayed from the AEC on Saturday Feb 9 by professor Daley, “All is well, weather clear and beautiful. Lots of snowshoe hiking today, and will be plenty of worn out people tonight after we take in the Astronomy lecture at the AEC. All arrived safely last night about 1030 p.m. We made several stops along the way to re-group, eat, etc. The Screamen Eagle Restaurant in Inlet was a good idea. We called ahead and had nine pizzas waiting for us! I am proud of the students; they carried themselves well in public, were supportive throughout the long drive, and related well to each other throughout. We’ve had plenty of laughter and good cheer, along with the compulsory games of mafia and Settlers of Cataan.  We took AEC Program Coordinator Paul Hai’s suggestion today, and about 12 climbed Goodnow Mtn and the remainder went with me on a 4 mile walk on the HWF property; the Mtn crew isn’t back yet, but my crew had a couple of pond and lake traverses, a decent bushwhack (downhill) and terrific weather and vistas ( a bit blustery at times, but clear blue skies). I even snuck in some winter animal tracking, hydrology and dam design as we walked along. Many of the students are looking forward to tonight’s astronomy lesson at the AEC, followed by a “laydown in the snow to look at stars.” The night promises to be clear, and with low humidity we should have wonderful stargazing.”

ERE Club members build boat from snow.

ERE Club members build boat from snow.

ERE Club members completed a military pond dam, built from snow.

ERE Club members completed a military pond dam, built from snow.


The Journal of Engineering Education has published an article, What does it mean to design?, and it has caught the attention of engineering departments around the country, including our ERE department. Here I summarize the findings of 6 categories of design, as described by design professionals:

1. Evidence based decision making – Design is finding and creating alternatives, then choosing among them through evidence-based decisions that lead to determining the best solution for a specific problem (civil engineering, scientific research).

2. Organized translation – Design is organized translation from an idea to a plan, product, or process that works in a given situation (civil engineering, mechanical engineering, dance composition).

3. Personal synthesis – Design is personal synthesis of aspects of previous experiences, similar tasks, technical knowledge, and/or others’ contributions to achieve a goal (fashion design, instructional design, scientific research, chemical engineering).

4. Intentional progression – Design is dynamic intentional progression toward something that can be developed and built upon in the future within a context larger than the immediate task (civil engineering, architecture, scientific research)

5. Directed creative exploration – Design is directed creative exploration to develop an outcome with value for others, guided and adapted by discoveries made during exploration (biomedical engineering, etc.)

6. Freedom – Design is freedom to create any of an endless number of possible outcomes that have never existed with meaning for others and/or oneself within flexible and fluid boundaries (painting and writing; computer science).

What do you think?

Settle in to comfortable zone and enjoy this news update on your Department of Environmental Resources Engineering 2011-2012 academic year. As you know, two of the major events of an academic year involve the late August ritual of replenishing our student talent (i.e., helping freshman assimilate) and the early May ritual of releasing talented graduates (i.e., placing freshly minted alumni into jobs and graduate school). First, in late August of 2011 ERE matriculated 32 new freshman, 7 transfer, and 10 new graduate students who proceeded to light up our classrooms. Later, in early May 2012 ERE graduated 25 senior undergraduate and 11 MPS, MS and PhD graduate students who cast a long shadow. Yet there is so much more to report than this dynamic mass balance of entering and departing students and I have the privilege of highlighting a year’s worth of exciting activity.

ERE seniors in April 2012 at the Planning and Design Capstone.

Our ERE family of students, faculty, and staff in fall 2011.

Here is a roll call of undergraduate student facts to make you proud. Thirteen ERE students were in the upper division ESF Honors Program and read an extra allotment of thick books and conducted an additional battery of difficult experiments: Elliot Alexander, Daniel Dohman, Colby Fisher, Owen Hunter, Eugene Law, Devin McBride, Michael Miles, Tyler Nowak, Djibrilla Rapant, Jonathan Rice, Peter Riggs, Rachael Weiter, and Mallory Wright. Eleven ERE students formally served as tutors and made the impenetrable courses into accessible nuggets of wisdom: Elliot Alexander, Amanda Barnett, Peter Connell, James Garvey Dooley, Nicholas Haas, Kimberly Hayden, Danielle Kaveney, Eugene Law, Michael Miles, Leanna Mulvihill, and Alexandra Williams. Eight ERE students were active in our undergraduate student government: Mark Bailey, Peter Connell, Aaron Fischer, Eugene Law, Mark Nowak, Erin Jackson, Danielle Kaveney, and Lydia Krembs. Six ERE students were ESF Orientation Leaders and helped assimilate new freshman into the complex ESF culture: Amanda Barnett, James Garvey Dooley, Anna Flores, Kevin Hennigan, Eugene Law, and Michael Miles. Four ERE students served as Student Ambassadors and lead tours for high school students considering ESF for college: Peter Connell, Aaron Fischer, Jonathan Rice, and Nicholas Haas. Our Engineers without Borders chapter celebrated the completion of the community water supply project in Buena Vista Honduras was adeptly guided by the following ERE student officers: Elliot Alexander, Amanda Barnett, Tom Decker, James Garvey Dooley and Lydia Krembs. Our ERE Club, formerly the FEG club, has perpetually provided departmental enrichment by coordinating the freshman orientation camping trip, campus wide games, and a set of alumni talks was wisely governed by the following ERE student officers: Andrew Aderman, Colby Fisher, Anna Flores, Danielle Kaveney, Owen Hunter, and Michael Miles. Our ERE Scholarship winners who demonstrated an inspirational balance of academics and service for the 2011-2012 academic year are Danielle Kaveney and Tom Decker – each receiving $300 from faculty and alumni donations to offset college costs.

Students celebrate their construction of a ram pump and UV water purifier in the Baker 106 lab.

In addition to the above roll call, here is a sampling of student biographies illustrating the range and focus of ERE undergraduate student activity. Freshman Cambria Ziemer was a standout runner and led the Mighty Oaks Women’s Cross Country team, assisted ERE Secretary Teri Frese in managing the office, and raced her way through a sophomore level course. Freshman Tom Decker served as the first student representative to the ERE Advisory Council, organized two weekend workshops training students to build hydro and solar powered water delivery systems with ram pumps, sand filters, and UV purifiers, and he also helped design and lead a new and very popular ERE course entitled, Appropriate Technology for Developing Countries. Sophomore Elliot Alexander cultivated the fine arts and was an active member of the SU Ballroom Dancing Club and SU Obscure Cinema Society. Junior Kimberly Junkins was a Girl Scout Leader, NRCS Earth Team Volunteer, SU Protestant Campus Ministry Peer Leader, Resident Hall Advisor, SU Women’s Choir singer, and a SU Triathlon Team and Cycling Team member. Junior Jennifer Nechamen was a club officer with the ESF Primitive Pursuits and a member of the SU Marching and Pep Band. Junior Eugene Law was the ESF Voting Delegate for the SUNY Student Assembly, student representative on the ESF College Foundation Board of Directors, member of the ESF Alumni Association Board (did you see Eugene at your last meeting!?), member of the Provost’s Student Advisory Council, and the President of the Undergraduate Student Association (yeah, the USA!). Senior Matt Deluca volunteered at the Syracuse Museum of Science and Technology and back at ESF he used his training in plumbing to build much of the experimental equipment used to teach Fluid Mechanics. Senior Leanna Mulvilhill was principal organizer of the inaugural SUNY ESF Farmhack with the National Young Farmers’ Association, weekly Environmental Columnist with the SU Daily Orange newspaper, and President of the SU Swing Club. Senior Rachael Weiter was a member in the ERE and EWB clubs, member of the Provost’s Student Advisory Council, member of NYWEA, and a leader in SUNY ESF Trout Bums. Senior Nicholas Haas was an SU Swim Club member, a campus Ambassador, an Argonne National Labs Undergraduate Research Fellow, and President of Pride Union. Senior Tyler Nowak coded up the SUNY ESF websites to present real-time campus weather in Syracuse ( and the ADK (check out the webcam on Goodnow Mtn) and also collected and processed water quality samples for the world renowned Mitchell Biogeochemistry Lab at ESF. And to cap it all – ERE senior Colby Fisher was NYWEA Student Chapter leader, member of the Provost’s Student Advisory Council, member of Alpha Phi Omega and Alpha Xi Sigma, recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, and winner of a National Science Foundation Graduate Student Fellowship to earn his PhD at Princeton University.

Students analyze how river restoration structures influence water surface profiles – they are training to lead in sustainable engineering.

Our ERE faculty were turning heads with their award winning teaching, research, and outreach, and you may want to plan an ERE visit to catch this excitement. Assistant Professor Steve Shaw was the recipient of a Water Resources Institute research award of $60,000 and a SUNY ESF seed grant award of $6,000 to support new ways to reduce flood risk with climate change. Dr. Shaw also inaugurated the teaching of Fluid Mechanics, with a lab (!), at ESF in the fall 2011 semester, and in the spring 2012 semester he offered a new class entitled Hydrology in a Changing Climate. This class strives to give students the background to critically assess climate model-based predictions of future regional changes in hydrology and to devise adaptation plans to deal with such changes. Associate Professor Doug Daley was awarded several hundred thousand dollars this year for his work on greening urban systems – one project is the Gateway Building green roof and the other is the Solvay wastebed evaporative cover. Daley was also interviewed by WCNY for this work and its impact on cleaning Onondaga Lake – see this in Episode 112.

In Daley’s spring 2012 ERE 489 Engineering Planning and Design capstone course alumni and local firms were involved in project development and student mentoring, and all former ERE chairs (Drs. Tully, Brock, Hassett, and Kroll!) were in the audience during the capstone to assess student work. ERE alumni guided student designs, provided technical expertise and shared management experience on the following projects:  Land Cover and Wetland System on a Former Manufactured Gas Plant Site, Utica, NY; Master Plan and Analysis for the Revitalization of the Scajaquada Creek Corridor, Erie County, NY; Design and Sustainability Analysis of a Combined Sewer Overflow Disinfection System, Oswego, NY; Design and Analysis of the Urban Forest to Improve Ecosystem Services, Syracuse, NY; and Design and Feasibility Assessment of Wastewater Sludge and Landfill Gas Management System, Auburn, NY. Special thanks is extended from the ERE students and faculty to our alumni who volunteered time and expertise, including: Dave Gerber, John Camp, Meghan Myles Platt, Brian Platt, Wendi Richards, Seth Jensen, Eric Haslam, John LaGorga, Cristina Albunio, Kris Dimmick, Dan Liwicki and Lowell McBurney. If you are interested in sponsoring or guiding a student-driven design project in the spring 2013 semester, contact the Doug Daley (’82) at

Faculty, staff, and family members exercising their creative edge at the Spring Awards Banquet.

Faculty triumphs continue: Assistant Professor Giorgos Mountrakis taught our juniors Surveying for Engineers this fall 2011 and mentored a postdoctoral researcher as part of a $800,000 NASA multi-investigator grant on using LIDAR to assess roles of climate and land use change on drivers of biodiversity. Dr. Mountrakis was also the invited keynote speaker at the 32nd Symposium of the European Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories. Dr. Wendong Tao and ERE graduate students Fred Agyeman, Lee Martin, and Doug Mayer (’10) won $90,000 this April on the National Mall in the EPA People Prosperity Planet (P3) 8th Sustainable Design Expo competition. They designed a low cost method to turn waste into resource by converting liquid phosphorus and nitrogen in dairy manure into crystallized fertilizers for agriculture. Dr. Stew Diemont organized and convened the 12th annual American Ecological Engineering Society conference at SUNY ESF this June, getting participants from several major US universities (VTech, NCSU, Clemson, Ohio State, U of Illinois, Michigan Tech, etc.) to enjoy demonstration tours, lectures, and Syracuse amenities such as Dinosaur BBQ and Alto Cinco meals. Dr. Diemont was also recently awarded a $100,000 National Science Foundation award for his research on agroforestry methods to reforest the connective corridor from Mexico through Central America. Dr. Jungho Im and his ERE graduate student Zhenyu Lu won the ERDAS Award for Best Scientific Paper in Remote Sensing at the ASPRS 2012 conference. Their work advances methods to detect land cover change in forested and other landscapes. Dr. Lindi Quackenbush is our ERE Assessment Coordinator and has dedicated much of her year to leading ERE’s report generation and preparation for the fall 2012 ABET site visit. Dr. Quackenbush was a co-investigator on Dr. Diemont’s NSF award and will provide spatial analysis and mapping support on that project. Staff member Mark Storrings has been managing our computing resources and lab spaces and among other roles he has been deploying software on our new Linux cluster. Staff member Paul Szemkow has been helping manage our Baker ecological engineering laboratory and hydrology / hydraulics lab spaces as well as capturing and broadcasting student learning and research in hallway posters. Our secretary Teri Frese has spent the year training me as ERE chair as well as coordinated our fall Employer Information Day, ERE Advisory Council meeting, our student FE exam registration, and a host of spring events including the perennial Planning and Design and Graduation celebrations.

Dr. Chuck Kroll stepped down as ERE chair in September 2011 and has since dedicated his professional time to mentoring me in my chair duties as well as increased teaching and research. Dr. Kroll was awarded a $250,000 USDA National Urban Community Forestry Advisory Council grant to develop a new iTree Landscape model that helps citizens design forestry based mitigation and adaptation strategies to climate change. The model will address urban air pollution, water pollution, and heat island problems and the Canopy, Design, and Hydro components of iTree are available at

As Chair I have been excited to serve as advocate for our students, staff, and faculty as they set ambitious goals and we find the resources to help them reach those goals. My service as chair has been informed by advice from our former ERE chairs and advice from our ERE Advisory Council, on which we have several alumni: Dave Gerber as Chair, Kris Dimmick, Peter Gabrielsen, John LaGorga, Patricia Pastella, Meghan Platt, John Thornet, and Scott Wheeler – these individuals and other AC members have guided and mentored me. Some of my highlights for this academic year include participating in the 1911-2011 Centennial year with thoughtful retrospections and motivating celebrations, initiating the ERE student composite so we now have a class photo hanging in our hallway, gathering with students, faculty, and staff at an ERE picnic and 3 separate formal affairs (including the gala Engineers with Appetites fund raiser), graduating 1 PhD student and 2 MS students who completed research on ecosystem based river restoration, securing $230,000 in USDA Forest Service funding for enhancing spatial simulation of iTree Hydro to help in urban watershed restoration, teaching 40 self-motivated undergraduates in the new ERE course Appropriate Technologies for Developing Countries, and reaching out to you, our alumni, during the November celebration of ERE’s 40th anniversary. To learn more about our activities please visit us online – there you will find our blog post and other social media outlets where you can watch us thrive!

ERE students and faculty point to the high peaks we have climbed and those we are engineering.