Tag Archive: Leanna

Professor Quackenbush makes engineering more human. As a professor of geospatial engineering in the Environmental Resources Engineering department she puts her energy into teaching, her students and her family.

Undergraduate students know her as their professor from ERE 133 Introduction to Engineering Design and previously she taught ERE 371 Surveying for Engineers. Both undergraduates and grad students take ERE 553 Introduction to Spatial Information. Learn more about her teaching and research here.

Knowing each of her students is a priority and part of why she enjoys teaching ERE 133 Introduction to Engineering Design. This class is taken by second semester freshman who get an overview of the design process, graphic communication and writing for engineers. This is a relatively new class in the ERE curriculum, but it serves an important purpose – to introduce students to the department much earlier in their careers at ESF.

Previously, students didn’t take very many engineering classes until their junior year. Freshman and sophomores spend most of their time taking general education classes and calculus, physics and chemistry classes that are prerequisites for engineering courses. Because this class is focused on group design projects, the students get to know each other as well.

As a former student of Professor Quackenbush I have experienced firsthand how much she values teaching. She explained that for her, teaching is something that’s easy to put a lot of time into because she likes it. I’m not surprised that she won the 2010 ESF College Foundation Award for Exceptional Achievement in Teaching.

Teaching classes with a hands-on component is important to her. Applying theories discussed in lectures makes them tangible and useful. This helps to engage students in the material, along with her open invitation to ask questions in her classes. An old radio commercial used to feature a professor who reprimanded students for interrupting him during class. Professor Quackenbush was irked by this message and sincerely hopes to be interrupted by students.

When possible, she presents the content of her classes in a variety of ways to be inclusive of different learning styles. In her surveying class, I appreciated having concepts explained with verbal definitions, numerical equations with examples, diagrams and then going out into lab and playing with it.

We learned that our data will always be imperfect and limited. Sometimes we learned this the hard way in surveying lab with a big slice of humble pie when we needed to re-take our data points after a miscalibration.

Outside of engineering, her main hobby is photography. It is fun to hear her talk about photography as spatial data and then about photography as art. She has a home studio and most frequently takes picture of her family. A photo she took of her daughter, is currently exhibited in the New Hartford Library as part of a Weekend in Central New York show (Her photograph is #20).

It was refreshing to hear Professor Quackenbush talk about making her family a priority. Frequently, I feel like college is this funny little bubble of life experience where most people are between the ages of 18 and 25 with professors and other grown-ups making intermittent appearances.

Lindi, Eva, Tyler and Uncle Stuart

She talked about how hard it is to have the school nurse call her if her daughter is sick and have to ask her husband to pick her up. It is harder to be the mom in that position, she said. Talking about family makes the last test I was stressing out about seem insignificant.

I appreciate that she devotes so much of her time to teaching and her students and know that my classmates and I will be better engineers for it.

Fun Fact: Syracuse University students can take classes at SUNY-ESF.

Don’t be afraid, it’s not too scary on the other side of the Carrier Dome. We take your classes all the time. It is usually about halfway through the semester when you realize all the kids in your calculus class with hard hats and flannel are Stumpies.

Read More.

To find all of Leanna’s columns, click here.

If you’re wondering what happens over at SUNY-ESF besides tie-dyeing on the Quad and worshipping an oversized acorn, wonder no more. Some of us are studying ecological engineering, and you are welcome to join in.

Ecological engineering is designing ecosystems for the mutual benefit of people and the environment. It is the one place in my engineering studies that allows for gray area. The answers are qualitative and supported with calculations rather than cold, hard numbers and factors of safety for wiggle room. There are ecological engineering courses open to all majors without prerequisites — it’s advising week, check them out under the “ERE” prefix.

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Name: Kim Hayden

Year: Senior

FEG or ERE: FEG, no way am I waiting to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam.

Hometown: Wappingers Falls, NY

Zodiac Sign: Scorpio, unless it’s different now?

Likes: elaborate barrettes, gin (as an exceedingly responsible 21 year old), kittens

Dislikes: inconsistency, walking in knee-deep snow, leaving appliances plugged-in, puking freshman

left to right - Kim Hayden, Ken Lukas, Leanna Mulvihill


Strengths: winking, knowing my integration rules cold

Weaknesses: accents, old people, old people with accents

Endearing Habit: Once I get home it’s jammie time, like 6pm jammie time

Who I’m Lovin’ On: Professor Siddarth Chatterjee, Wally Lamb, Banksy

Specializing In: Designing for the urban environment, it’s all good in the ‘hood

Post Graduation Plans: Bringing green infrastructure to the Hudson Valley!

Dream Project: Untangling the City of Poughkeepsie’s combined sewer system.

If I Weren’t An Engineer: I’d be a seamstress

Role I Take In A Design Team: Reality Check

Person I Wish I Could Have on My Design Team: my brother

Late Night In Baker Lab Essentials: brew (coffee), wool socks, Ken’s Pandora account

Things I Do Outside of ERE: Aikido, eat food that other people make

Kim at her internship with Parsons


The Engineers Without Borders chapter at SUNY-ESF is approaching its projects with the users in mind.

As of today, they are implementing a gravity-fed water distribution system in Buena Vista, Honduras. This consists of a water tank with plastic pipes buried underground serving a population of 300 people. Until the students came along, the community had stream water flowing though rubber hoses aboveground and only during the rainy season. The water was frequently contaminated with feces and the hoses often leaked. It is thrilling to see this project, started in 2006, finally coming to fruition.

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Farmhack@ESF was a one day conference for designers and farmers to brainstorm solutions for small scale agriculture. It was organized by Leanna Mulvihill as part of her internship with the National Young Farmers’ Coalition. The event took place in two parts, the design portion was Saturday September 17 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and presentations of the work accomplished that day took place in the evening from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. and approximately twenty people were present for both sessions. The design session began with introductions from everyone present and design pitches. There were eight design pitches in the morning. Meg Backus from Library Farm proposed a rain collection/irrigation system. Creek Iversen of Sylvestor Manor wanted to work on improving a mulch spreader design. Taik Fountaine of Tantré Farm had ideas for a roller for felt used to protect crops from insect damage. Stew Diemont, assistant professor at SUNY ESF, was interested in bringing successional agroforestry systems back to New York. Eugene Law, SUNY ESF Environmental Resources Engineering Class of 2013, wanted to create an educational program about the love that goes into agriculture as a cultural restoration plan. James Kelly of Tantré Farm had plans for using a pig production operation as part of soil restoration on a site transitioning from conventional to organic practices. Christy Smith from Peacework Farm wants to turn her half acre plot into a micro-CSA. Luke was excited to chat about radiant heating for seedling production.

Leanna Mulvihill, smiling at left, is FarmHack organizer and at the drawing board!

Some of these proposals ended up gelling together and at the end of the day the designs presented were the irrigation system at Library Farm by Nick Haas, SUNY ESF Environmental Resources Engineering Class of 2012, successional agroforestry for soil building by Stew Diemont, James Kelly Jonathan Watterson, SUNY ESF MLA 2012 and Stephanie Willette of Tantré Farm, the felt roller and garlic processing equipment by Taik Fountaine, and a small scale mulch spreader by Creek Iverson and Benjamin Shute from the National Young Farmers’ Coalition. Each project had team(s) working on them that remained fluid and allowed everyone to really participate in all of the projects. Students from both SUNY ESF and Cornell University participated. Other farmers that attended were Dick De Graff of Grindstone Farm, Lindsey Lusher Shute the director of the National Young Farmers’ Coalition, Casey Knapp of Cobblestone Valley Farm, Karin Crowley, Katie Zebrozek of Tantré Farm and Luke and Ruth whose affliation I did not know. Additional SUNY ESF students were Robinson Dugan, Dingqiang Zhao and Danielle Kloster. The Cornell students were Jim Jing, Cameron Finucane and Emily Reiss. Many more SUNY ESF students attended the evening presentations.

Illustrative irrigation idea.

The event was well received by all who attended and participated. I was told repeatedly that this was a valuable resource for farmers to be able to discuss their ideas with students who have technical expertise and other farmers with hands-on experience. Blog posts with results from the day will be up shortly on farmhack.net and this event will be featured in the upcoming Knothole issue. Leanna Mulvihill gave a presentation about this event at the Local Living Festival in Canton, NY on Saturday September 24th, 2011 and will be featured in a Clarkson University production directed by Nick Ruck.