Category: Undergraduates


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.

What follows are notes from Alex Caven, President of Engineering for a Sustainable Society (ESS), and Ted Endreny, their adviser:

Instead of relaxing during over spring break, five members of our ESS club (including Jen Gienau), traveling independent of ESF, but with an ESF ERE alumnus Stan Hovey, gathered in Haiti to implement sanitation and reforestation projects. The sanitation project was developed last year when ESS members embarked on an exploratory trip to Haiti, and the reforestation project has been in the works for decades thanks to the dedication of Stan Hovey. To prepare for the trip the ESF students learned of Haiti’s long history of political exploitation, and began to understand the underlying reasons of the country’s economic, social, and environmental challenges. In short, the country lacks adequate sanitation infrastructure, emergency facilities, and has experienced severe deforestation. To assist us at the interface of humanitarian engineering ESS has partnered with SOIL and Agronomy Institute, local organizations working to improve conditions in Haiti.

SOIL – Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods – is a non-profit founded in 2006, which provides waste to resource services by composting human waste composting for families and communities. ESS became involved when SOIL identified a problem that could benefit from an engineering solution. SOIL takes in many cubic yards of waste each month, allows this to compost for several months, and the final product then must be sieved to remove the remaining cover material and other unwanted particles. The sieving process has been a burden for the workers, requiring use of pitchforks to move the compost onto a screen and push it through by hand. ESS agreed to build a bike-powered compost sifter to improve their efficiency in the post-processing and sieving of compost. During the winter of 2015 ESS students came together to talk through design challenge, consider design alternatives, gather materials, build a prototype in Syracuse (in an unheated barn owned by ESF), and coordinate logistics between Syracuse and Haiti. One logistical obstacle to note – Haiti happens to be the only country in the world prohibiting the shipment of a bike.

Compost sifter frame as reconstructed in Haiti, with chain leading to rear wheel of bike.

Compost sifter frame as reconstructed in Haiti, with chain leading to rear wheel of bike.

In Haiti, the students reconnected with their shipped materials (sans bike), and met with the SOIL team to discuss the engineering design solution. Working together with SOIL staff, we built the compost sifter over the course of two six-hour sessions. This was completed at the SOIL office in Port-au-Prince and then loaded into the back of a pickup truck and driven into and through the city dump to reach the SOIL composting site. There, we connected the bike to the structure, worked through some issues with keeping the chain running smoothly, and gave it a first sifting test. Looking for a rider was easy – the SOIL workers at the compost site were eager to ride the bike. The final product will continue to be tweaked to better handle a range of size distributions.

The reforestation project was initiated by ERE photogrammetry specialist Stan Hovey, who spent some of his childhood in Haiti where his father was tasked with promoting reforestation and building an agronomy program. More recently Stan has taken up the reigns on his father’s projects and reached out to ESS for help. During the 2015 spring break ESS students participated in the building of two tree nurseries, and worked with Haitian agronomists from 6 different regions of the country to develop record-keeping, map-making, and technical skills. During this trip, ESS members approached a school outside of the city of Petit-Goave to start environmental clubs for budding scientists to promote environmental awareness. The agronomists, when the nursery trees are ready for planting, will recruit these environmental club members to help plant the trees. Stan has introduced advanced geographic information system (GIS) technologies to the tree nursery projects, and the ESS students helped agronomists to geotag nursery locations in the EpiCollect platform.

Coffee seedlings planted by ESF ESS students, Haitian agronomists, and Petit-Goave community members.

Coffee seedlings planted by ESF ESS students, Haitian agronomists, and Petit-Goave community members.

Jen Gienau teaches Haitian agronomists to geotag locations in EpiCollect and how to download the data into a central database and upload it to a GIS map.

Jen Gienau teaches Haitian agronomists to geotag locations in EpiCollect and how to download the data into a central database and upload it to a GIS map.

In addition to moving forward with these projects, ESS plans to engage in other efforts. Smart phones and computers are needed by the agronomists to help keep records and maintain communication across sites. Financial and material resources are needed for an innovative goat program which provides families with pregnant goats, along with nursery development, management, tree disbursement and planting to provide goat food and complete a nutrition cycle. Finally, electricity is needed by the mountain community of Bon-Bon, which has a high energy stream running nearby. There is the possibility ESS will build a pico- or micro-hydro system to provide Bon-Bon with year-round electricity.

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.

 

On April 12, 2014 ten ERE students traveled to SUNY-Morrisville to learn more about renewable energy and sustainable development as part of SUNY-ESF’s Engineering For A Sustainable Society (ESS).  From previous collaboration with Dr. Hofmeyer, Assistant Professor at SUNY Morrisville and SUNY-ESF alum, concerning the renewable energy project that the club is leading in the Adean Highlands of Peru, a workshop was scheduled to teach fellow students the basics of small scale hydropower.

The team travelled out on a beautiful Saturday morning and walked to Galbreath Farm which is home to remaining infrastructure from the previous supply of the community’s drinking water. A longstanding dam and broad crested weir at the top reaches of a small hill fed into several settling tanks and was modified to be combined with a penstock system. With Dr. Hofmeyer and Ryan Storke’s guidance, ERE students were able to assemble a completed pipeline with vacuum release that directed flow to the microturbine system. Beginning at 10am, ERE students worked hard and got their hands dirty learning about the production of electricity through the utilization of natural resources, completing the installation by 2 in the afternoon.

Dr. Hofmeyer has installed several micro-hydro systems throughout upstate New York and the ERE students are grateful for his guidance and support during the workshop. The technical skills gained will help our ESS club progress in their renewable energy project in Abra Malaga, Peru.

Figure 1 - The ERE team at the Renewable Energy Training Center at SUNY Morrisville (Kiana Morse, Ethan Bodnaruk, Xiaoyu Chen, Jeremy Driscoll, Kristine Ellsworth, Ashlyn Maurer, Thomas Decker…not pictured Ross Mazur, Alex Caven, Ani Zipkin).

Figure 1 – The ERE team at the Renewable Energy Training Center at SUNY Morrisville (Kiana Morse, Ethan Bodnaruk, Xiaoyu Chen, Jeremy Driscoll, Kristine Ellsworth, Ashlyn Maurer, Thomas Decker…not pictured Ross Mazur, Alex Caven, Ani Zipkin).

Figure 2 - On site waterfall that shows the drop in elevation needed for hydropower production.

Figure 2 – On site waterfall that shows the drop in elevation needed for hydropower production.

Figure 3 - Existing dam and weir that provides storage and containment for flow.

Figure 3 – Existing dam and weir that provides storage and containment for flow.

Figure 4 - Due to sedimentation during winter, Alex, Jeremy, Ani, and Dr. Hofmeyer dig out the pit where the micro-turbine will lie above.

Figure 4 – Due to sedimentation during winter, Alex, Jeremy, Ani, and Dr. Hofmeyer dig out the pit where the micro-turbine will lie above.

Figure 5- The team hard at work assembling the penstock.

Figure 5- The team hard at work assembling the penstock.

Figure 6 - The beautiful micro-turbine with a harmonious hum, producing renewable energy.

Figure 6 – The beautiful micro-turbine with a harmonious hum, producing renewable energy.

The Central New York Chapter of the Air & Waste Management Association is pleased to announce that Jordan Gray-DeKraai has been selected to receive a $1,000 scholarship. These competitive scholarships are open to students residing in or attending college in central New York and enrolled in an environmentally-related field of study. Jordan is currently a junior at SUNY ESF, majoring in Environmental Resources Engineering. Jordan’s application documented an impressive range of academic honors and awards, extracurricular activities and community service. Recommendations provided by two of Jordan’s professors attest to her diligence, motivation and eagerness to take on leadership roles and apply the knowledge and skills she has gained. CNY AWMA has also been very lucky to get a chance to know Jordan through her participation as a student liaison with our organization.

AWMA

Student leaders in the ERE clubs Engineers for a Sustainable Society and Engineers without Borders have summarized their volunteer service work in the attached newsletter. Follow this Newsletter link and dig into stories on Guinea Pigs, Ferreterias and Pressurized Water in Peru, Composting Toilets at Amberations in New York, A Future in Haiti, and the Honduras Community Water Supply project, and the Engineers with Appetites date. You can also learn how the ESS group is expanding on the work of their EWB club, and the faculty of our ERE department can confirm that both clubs will remain at ESF indefinitely.

Significant progress has been achieved in the ESF Peru project to bring electricity to a rural Andea mountain village. The story begins in August of 2012 when ERE student TJ Decker and the ESF Engineering for a Sustainable Society and Engineers Without Borders clubs (ESS/EWB) began a sustainable electrification project in the Andean community of Abra Malaga, Peru. Abra Malaga had no Peruvian support to implement electricity of their village homes, and the community had no in-door lighting or basic electrical services. Thanks to an ESF alumni we learned of Abra Malaga’s interest in partnering with ESS/EWB and our club engaged the project. The process for ESS/EWB was to first establish a partnership with ECOAN (Ecosistemas Asociacion Andinos), an on the ground NGO, to facilitate an agreed upon project with Abra Malaga. The plan – provide and install solar panels and pico-hydro generators as a sustainable and long lasting energy source for electrification. Our target was to bring electricity to all 20 homes in Abra Malaga and to create education opportunities for the community so that after the project’s completion, the community would be self-sufficient.

A community gathering in Abra Malaga where the kids received small gifts for Christmas and ate Panaton and Chocolatadas.

A community gathering in Abra Malaga where the kids received small gifts for Christmas and ate Panaton and Chocolatadas.

After a year of technical work on the pico-hydro generator TJ led a group of students to Peru in August 2013 and completed Phase I of the project. The work from this trip can be seen at our ERENGINEERING blog link. Significant technical and partnership progress was made on this August 2013 trip. The village, ECOAN, and ESS/EWB parties agreed upon a Memorandum of Understanding and kick-started the project with enthusiasm.

ERE Student TJ Decker with Heimenegildo Apaza Eihame with a solar panel that was installed in his home

ERE Student TJ Decker with Heimenegildo Apaza Eihame with a solar panel that was installed in his home.

Since that trip additional fundraising presentations were successful in collecting the needed donations to enable Phase II of the project and a return trip to Peru. To put this in context, the electricity project in Abra Malaga is a humanitarian engineering project and as such it needs face-to-face connections to increase the chances for successful project planning and ground implementation. Face-to-face time is hard to maintain between NY and Peru, and in order to keep the project rolling without long stagnant periods, Phase II was scheduled for December 2013, only 4 months after Phase I. TJ arrived in Peru on December 15 with the Phase II goals of continuing installation of solar panels, assessing the pico-hydro performance, and to establishing long and short term education opportunities so the community can take over project maintenance and expansion.

Victor, of ECOAN conducted a workshop so that the community no longer had to rely on them to fix and install the solar panel systems.

Victor, of ECOAN conducted a workshop so that the community no longer had to rely on them to fix and install the solar panel systems.

Over the course of the December 2013 trip TJ worked with ECOAN to purchase four solar panels. These panels were brought to Abra Malaga and a half day workshop was conducted by ECOAN and ESS/EWB to teach community members the workings and instructions of solar panel installation. After the workshop, the team stepped back and allowed the community to install the panels themselves, giving them equal technical ownership of the project. This approach was a HUGE success because the workshop was a positive step in the direction technical education and community self-sufficiency with solar panel maintenance and installation.

For the first time, the woman on the left whose name is Honorata Sinchi Machaca has a light fixture that she can use at night. To the right is ERE student TJ Decker.

For the first time, the woman on the left whose name is Honorata Sinchi Machaca has a light fixture that she can use at night. To the right is ERE student TJ Decker.

There was also progress with the pico hydro generators with the donation of two charge controllers from Morningstar and the construction of a cement settling tank for clarifying the hydro power source. The generators provide 24/7 electricity from water rather than only 12 hours a day of electricity from solar panels. The generators are a work-in-progress and should be up and running by February 2014. The generators will give the community the capacity to expand on their electricity use and capture another source of renewable energy from the local Andes environment.

The pico-hydro system was up and running in October 2013 and producing electricity! Soon, the systems will be connected with Morningstar charge controllers and the systems will then be put into use.

The pico-hydro system was up and running in October 2013 and producing electricity! Soon, the systems will be connected with Morningstar charge controllers and the systems will then be put into use.

With the combination of solar panels and pico-hydro electricity, ESF students have been able to reduce the number of homes without electricity from 20 to 3. This was tremendous progress for a relatively short period of time, limited trips, and a modest budget. With additional fundraising and additional equipment, the entire community will have full access to basic electrical services. Within a year, the community will also have two local men and women fully trained in electricity installation and maintenance thanks to the ECOAN sponsorship; ECOAN is inviting Abra Malaga community members to come to the city of Cusco for a short course in sustainable energy and the fundamentals of electricity.

 TJ also participated in a reforestation campaign of Polylepis that was conducted by ECOAN. This photo is at Huacahuasi Pass at 15,200 ft above mean sea level.

TJ also participated in a reforestation campaign of Polylepis that was conducted by ECOAN. This photo is at Huacahuasi Pass at 15,200 ft above mean sea level.

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

Junior ERE students, such as Tom Decker, take the initiative to apply to several projects in the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduate (NSF REU) directory. This past summer a few ERE students were accepted, and Tom’s REU involved research through the University of South Florida’s Globalization and Community Health Field School in Monteverde, Costa Rica.  The NSF-REU program is an opportunity for students all over the country to gain experience in methods and practices of research before entering the graduate school. These programs are 10-week long summer internships and are orchestrated by universities throughout the United States in STEM topics from International Engineering to Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences.

Tom’s REU team at the continental divide on the Monteverde Reserve. His team consisted of members from California, Florida, Virginia, Vermont, North Carolina, Ohio, Idaho, and New York.

Tom’s REU team at the continental divide on the Monteverde Reserve. His team consisted of members from California, Florida, Virginia, Vermont, North Carolina, Ohio, Idaho, and New York.

Tom worked with Drs. Nancy and David Himmelgreen of the Field School in a partnership with the Monteverde Institute in Costa Rica to offer a combination of research in Anthropology and Environmental Engineering. After being accepted into the Field School, Tom participated in three weeks of online classes to learn more about international travel, the background of Costa Rica, and Anthropology and Engineering research methods. Tom then started seven weeks with 11 fellow students with majors in science, engineering and anthropology in Monteverde, Costa Rica. This student team explored community perceptions of animal waste management on farms, designed wastewater management solutions through anaerobic digestion and safe disposal methods, and collected data on the general health of the people in the Monteverde Zone. As part of his research in anaerobic digestion, Tom and his team learned about biodigestors, Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blankets, and Anaerobic Baffle Reactors.

Tom holding a pitcher containing a mixture of cow manure, pig manure, and sweet cheese whey that was being analyzed for its ability to breakdown anaerobically. The farm had an inefficient wastewater treatment system and Tom’s team designed a system that irrigated fields using treated waste.

Tom holding a pitcher containing a mixture of cow manure, pig manure, and sweet cheese whey that was being analyzed for its ability to breakdown anaerobically. The farm had an inefficient wastewater treatment system and Tom’s team designed a system that irrigated fields using treated waste.

Tom gained invaluable first-hand experience internationally, branching out from environmental engineering to gain insights and skills of a social scientist. Mixing engineering and sociology sounds risky, but it is strongly recommended by the National Academy of Engineering as the path toward appropriate design. Tom learned how to administer comprehensive surveys, focus groups, free listing, and pile sorting exercises, as well as medical anthropology techniques to determine human health. Through the Field School, Tom built upon his engineering curriculum by gaining experience in other areas of study and broadened his knowledge of the problems that communities in developing nations can face.

Tubular biodigestor in Monteverde, Costa Rica, where Tom worked with other biodigestor designs.

Tubular biodigestor in Monteverde, Costa Rica, where Tom worked with other biodigestor designs.

Tom’s first two years at SUNY-ESF focused his growth as an international development and humanitarian engineer. He has been involved in water and alternative energy projects in Honduras and Peru. He has also played a key role in establishing a 1 credit discussion course in our ERE program called “Appropriate Technologies in Developing Countries”. This course explains the food, water, health, and energy security issues that are present throughout the world and the appropriate solutions that are available to solve them. Tom’s involvement in both the education and on-the-ground implementation aspects of international development and community partnership is what motivated him to pursue this REU opportunity in the beautiful Tropical Cloud Forest of Monteverde.

Part of Tom’s research was to understand how drinking water was cleaned through these massive slow sand filters.

Part of Tom’s research was to understand how drinking water was cleaned through these massive slow sand filters.

Costa Rica is one of the most developed countries in Central and South America and has pride about providing almost the whole country with clean drinking water. The above photo shows the largest drinking water treatment facility in the country and provides water for hundreds of thousands of people in San Jose.

Costa Rica is one of the most developed countries in Central and South America and has pride about providing almost the whole country with clean drinking water. The above photo shows the largest drinking water treatment facility in the country and provides water for hundreds of thousands of people in San Jose.

 

 

Peter J (PJ) Connell, an ERE student and President of the ESF Undergraduate Student Association, delivered a message of welcome and advice to entering freshman on August 23, 2013 at the ESF-SU opening Convocation ceremony held in the Carrier Dome. This is a high honor and PJ’s address captivated the audience and received thunderous applause; the next speaker to the podium, SU student president Alexandra Curtis, immediately told the crowd that PJ was a tough act to follow. The DO posted this story that overlooks important ESF contributions to the Convocation.

PJ shared the stage with ESF President Neil Murphy, SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor, and other platform party members. PJ’s speech is below:

Greetings parents, faculty, staff, and students, and allow me to say a word you’ve probably heard more than any other over the past few days – welcome. You’re in for a great time.

I’d like to start off by thanking Chancellor Cantor and Preisdent Murphy for their thoughtful thanks and constant dedication to the continued success and improvement of our respective institutions. I think I speak for everyone when I say that you two will be sorely missed by the rest of us here in Syracuse. The list of individuals and groups who deserve thanks and praise for all they have done to make these two schools as well-respected as they are today is endless, so I’d like to offer a general message of gratitude to all parties involved.

Let’s move on to the point of my speech. You new students up in the stands, I’m willing to bet that this day has come faster than you could have ever imagined. You’re now freshmen in college, the first tangible step into adulthood and the chaotic state of life commonly referred to as the “real world”. However, like I said, time flies. Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday that you were amazed to be starting your first day of high school?

Believe me, I’m in a very similar boat. It was just two years ago that I was up there, sitting in your place, feeling “happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time,” as Taylor Swift would put it. I bet some of you want to retreat into your own personal bubble, while others want to be friends with everyone you lay your eyes on.

Think about that.

Now, as I’ve said, you’re preparing yourselves for the real world. However, if there is one thing I can stress to you all, it’s to cherish every single moment of your college experience, because I promise that it will fly by. For example, let’s look at some events that have occurred in the last year alone, and you will see how fast time flies.

  • In the last year, we watched actress Amanda Bynes go from beloved child star to yet another downwardly spiraling former-celebrity, a la Lindsay Lohan.
  • It’s already been ten months since Hurricane Sandy struck the eastern coast of the United States.
  • Several important babies were born, including George, the royal baby, and North West, child of Kim Kardashian and Kanye, who is everyone’s new favorite direction.
  • The first Hobbit movie was finally released, while the Twilight series was finally, mercifully ended

With that, I’d like to encourage you not to let these college years be just another four years of your life, but to be the best four years of your life. You have four years to leave your mark on your school, and time starts now.

Good luck.

 

Convocation platform party and faculty procession toward the stage.

Convocation platform party and faculty procession toward the stage.

 

Platform party with SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor standing and ESF President Neil Murphy seated, wearing green academic regalia.

Platform party with SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor standing, ESF President Neil Murphy seated, wearing green academic regalia, and ERE student PJ in a black academic gown and seated behind Tadodaho Sidney Hill of the Onondaga Nation, Haudenosaunee Confederacy .