Sunday, April 7, 2013

Expanding Your Horizons Beyond Engineering (Teresa Giovannoli: Sophomore - Mechanical Engineering)

When I first came to Penn State, I was looking to take in all the opportunities Penn State had to offer.  However, everyone always told me you only have time for two of three things; school, sleep, or a social life.  I wanted to challenge this.  I signed up to be in EASI house, one of the engineering living options on campus.  I also decided to join a sorority.  I joined Kappa Kappa Gamma the fall of my freshman year.

I have good news for everyone; it is possible to have all three!  As a member of Engineering Ambassadors, and the President of a sorority, my biggest piece of advice I learned is time management and self-control.  I knew I wanted to join Greek life.  And, although many thought it wasn’t possible, I wanted to keep up with engineering at the same time.  The reason people say it is so difficult is because it is all about the balance.  With a sorority or fraternity, there are many meetings you have to attend, as well as keeping up with your friends in your chapter.  However, engineering is a very time intensive major.  If you don’t maintain your work, your grades can suffer and classes can become frustrating.  It takes self-control to realize what the right decision to make is.  It did take a few sleepless nights for me to find the balance, and I still slip up every once in a while.  But, It was definitely worth it for everything I’ve gotten out of college thus far!

I found being in a sorority beneficial because it gave me an opportunity to meet people outside of the engineering discipline.  It is very important to have friends in engineering to study with and work with, but it is also important to have a diverse group of friends at Penn State.  It gives you a larger network and more opportunity.  It was a very easy way to meet a close group of friends right away.  At such a large school, it is easy to feel lost freshman year.  A sorority placed me with a group of girls that are so similar to me and have become my closest friends at school.  I also thought joining a sorority was beneficial for the philanthropy and community service opportunities.  Each sorority or fraternity has their own philanthropy that they help support.  Kappa Kappa Gamma participates in Reading is Fundamental.  We collect books, and then go down town to read to local preschools and daycares.  Kappa also gave me a connection to Dance Marathon, as every sorority and fraternity participates.  All in all, I found that joining a sorority gave me opportunities to get involved in Penn State outside of engineering.  I have a chance to lead the engineering community through Engineering Ambassadors, but also contribute to Greek life, philanthropies, the State college community, and my peers outside of engineering because I joined Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Welcome to the 4th Dimension: Engineering in the Construction Industry – Abby Kreider

When I say I’m taking a class called Building Information Modeling Studio, it’s both a lot for me to say and for others who aren’t involved to understand.  I begin by explaining that BIM is something that is becoming more and more integrating in the construction industry as four-dimension modeling.  At first, people are skeptical thinking – what could I possibly mean by four-dimensional?  When, when you start the process to build a structure, it takes a lot of planning before you even break ground on the site.  In this planning, the process BIM is being implemented which is where a 3D model of the design is compared against time, introducing the fourth dimension in terms of a schedule for the project.  This is an innovative process in the industry but is making large strides in becoming more efficient and green in every construction process, saving all involved time, money, and energy.

Despite the world of academics generally being ahead of the industry curve, few schools offer any training in BIM because it requires coordination between several members of the industry for a realistic experience.  I’m here to tell you that The Penn State University not only offers training in BIM coordination but offers a 6 discipline integrated studio class.  This class combines the efforts of students in the architecture program, landscape architecture program, and the 4 options of the architectural engineering program (construction, mechanical, structural, and lighting/electrical).    This interdisciplinary studio is the only one of its’ kind in the country and has been recognized twice on a national level by the American Institute of Architects’ Technology in Practice BIM Awards Program.

I feel very honored to be one of the 5 construction management engineers involved in this process.  If I had not come to Penn State, I would not have had this amazing opportunity.  Not only am I going to be ahead of others in my field upon graduation but also I will be a strong asset to the company I work for after graduation.

Engineers take on all types of roles and this is just an example how integrated this world is truly becoming.  So put yourself out there and explore all the opportunities your university has to offer, but just remember Penn State is the only place for BIM! 

Check out more information here:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Engineering Ambassadors Take San Diego! - Lola Buonomo

ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) invited Engineering Ambassadors to speak at the 2013 ASME International ME Education Leadership Summit. With all the demand and interest in Engineering Ambassadors, it is quickly turning into a national network. The purpose of this trip was to help ASME understand exactly what our program does and how we fulfill their aspirations to improve diversity in mechanical engineering. In order to turn Engineering Ambassadors into a true national network, we need support of the structure and scale. We gave a ten minute presentation on the program and a ten minute sample outreach presentation. We feel it is better to show not tell. So for ASME to truly understand Engineering Ambassadors we brought them back to their high school physics class for an EA presentation on robotics. We were speaking to a fairly large group comprised of Mechanical Engineering Department Heads, CEOs, and ASME officers. In the weeks of preparation leading to the event I was sure I would be nervous standing up there giving this talk. But something happened between the hours of preparation and practice runs. I finally realized I was talking about something I loved. I didn’t have to memorize facts or fake any enthusiasm. This organization is what I am passionate about and all I am doing is sharing that with others. Once I had this realization I was excited to speak in front of everyone. Getting up there and giving the presentation was just icing on the cake.

Kathleen and I embarked on this adventure together with some five star treatment as we walked on the tar mat to get to our airplane. (That’s how big our State College airport is.) Some many hours later we touched down in San Diego ready for this trip of a lifetime. Prepared only to attend meetings and give presentations of the Engineering Ambassadors program, we had no idea what we were really in store for. Everyone was so positive and interested in the organization and the work we were doing. I immediately felt our mission growing and reaching more schools across the nation. It was an extremely rewarding experience!

Aside from the presentations, Kathleen and I had the chance to spend every other waking minute outside! From finding trees to climb to beaches to play on I felt like a kid again. We walked everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Even the 3 mile walk from dinner on the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier back to our hotel with Dr. Karen Thole, Christine Haas, and many more ASME members. This was such an amazing experience and I am so lucky I got to spend it with my best friend. I’ve put together a little video montage of our trip to show just how incredible it really was. Enjoy!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Taking Over the Construction Industry: One Female Engineer At a Time - Abby Kreider

I’m sure you have all looked across the skyline of any city and seen a tower crane.  A good sign of a booming construction economy, these cranes symbolize the lifeblood of my future career as a construction engineer.  I am a senior in the Architectural Engineering major at Penn State University with a concentration in the Construction Management option and I manage construction sites like the one lying under these cranes you see on a daily basis.

In the summer after my junior year, I interned with Barton Malow Company as a Project Engineer in Richmond, VA on a emergency department renovation at the Virginia Commonwealth University’s teaching hospital. The job was a four phase project that is currently taking place while having the emergency room operational at full capacity and was essentially a logistical nightmare.  The only entrance to our site was in the same small alley way in which the ambulances brought patients to the emergency room as you can see in the picture below.

These logistical challenges, although annoying and difficult, ended up being a positive learning experience and added to the many positive take-aways that I have from this summer.   It is important to throw yourself into any and all challenges in an internship.  How many times in your life will you be able to go and work somewhere for 3 months just to gain experience?  Internships are great opportunities and I highly recommend taking advantage of any and all opportunities.  What have you got to lose?  If nothing else, you will learn that is something you didn’t want to do and you can check it off of your list!

Another important point about internship experience is forming relationships and getting involved outside of the actual internship.  While in Richmond for the summer, not only did I establish working relationships but also personal friendships as well.  Below is a picture of a Habitat for Humanity build we did with some of the other interns as well as the young professionals we worked with.  We did several group activities throughout the summer within the company but also outside.  The internship is what you make it so enjoy your summer of learning and growing!  Put yourself out there!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Metal Is Cool! (And So Is Engineering!) - Fawn Romanko

Have you ever wondered how a car engine is manufactured?  Maybe you've been curious about how your metal charm necklace was created.  Both of these are actually made very similarly using metal casting!

A great class offered to Penn State Industrial engineering students is IE 311: Principles of Solidification Processing.  This classes gives IE students the opportunity to learn about metal casting processes.  The class has a hands-on lab to facilitate learning.  You even get to pour molten metal!

A cool metal casting process we learned about recently is called Lost Foam Casting.  The first step of this process is to draw your design on styrofoam and cut out the mold.  Then, you must paint the mold with ceramic paint.  This helps create a smooth surface on the mold.  The picture to the right shows a house number plaque mold.  Next, the mold is placed upright in a bucket.  The bucket is then filled with dry, loose sand.
Next comes the fun part -- it's time to pour the molten metal!  It is important to be properly dressed in a protective suit to ensure safety.
Once the metal is poured into the bucket, the styrofoam is burned out, and the metal takes on the shape of the mold.  Below is the completed house number plaque.
This is just one of the many metal casting processes we learn in IE 311.  As you can see, we have a lot of fun!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Coding for a Cure - Matt Glick

Being a Captain for the World’s Largest Student Run Philanthropy has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I am currently the Lead THINK Developer for THON 2013 and that allows me to use my coding experience and leaderships skills to help fight for a cure for pediatric cancer.

I am a Computer Engineering major here at Penn State and have been involved with THON since my freshman year. When I first came to Penn State I had no idea what THON was, but before long I was going on canning trips, sending THONvelopes and asking for online don12ations. And then when January rolled around and my organization had to choose dancers (someone who doesn’t sit or sleep for 46 hours in a testament to the Four Diamonds Children) I was honored to be chosen. I saw my first THON while walking through the human tunnel and into the Bryce Jordan Center.

After my first THON I knew I had to get involved. I applied to be Technology Captain in the spring and held the position throughout my sophomore year. I was then chosen again last spring as the Lead THINK Develeper and have since been working to develop and maintain a website called THINK (THON’s Information Network).

THON has given me a chance to combine my programming skills, my leadership skills and my push to make the world around me a better place. I am an Engineer and I have changed the life of a child.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Standing 46 Hours in the BJC for THON - Jacki Guillemette

Most Penn State students can agree that the fall semester is dedicated to football season and the spring semester is dedicated to THON. More than 15,000 PSU students participate in the 46 hour dance marathon that raises money for the Four Diamonds Fund to help the battle against pediatric cancer. Students spend a large part of the school year raising money for the cause and preparing for the highly anticipated THON weekend which occurred February 15-18 for THON 2013.

This year I had the honor of dancing in THON 2013. Dancers are the people who spend the entire 46 hours of THON on their feet without sitting or sleeping as a symbol of standing up for and taking the pain away from the children suffering from cancer so that they can have a weekend of fun and childhood. It is an extremely challenging endeavor because it is very exhausting not sleeping for so long and about halfway through the weekend, your legs and feet ache a tremendous amount. Despite the exhaustion and pain however, being able to stand for such an amazing cause is so rewarding and seeing all of the children makes everything more than worth it. It is also made a lot easier by having friends and family visit constantly and having a moraler there all of the time to help take care of you is super helpful.

Although a large part of THON is fundraising, another large part of it is being there for the families who have been affected by pediatric cancer. The organization that I danced for (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) found out a few days before THON weekend started that we got a new THON family. It was fantastic news because we now had a Four Diamonds Family that was going to attend THON and meet us and wanted to stay in touch with us. My dance partner (Jess Menold, also an Engineering Ambassador) got to meet our THON child, David, and his family on Saturday and they are such strong, amazing people. We got to spend time dancing and talking and it was so wonderful to get to know them and have them there with us.

THON 2013 total
During the final 4 hours, some families get to tell their stories and explain what THON has meant for them. After everyone gets to sit down at 4pm on Sunday, the THON total is revealed. This is positively one of the most exhilarating moments you will ever experience if you helped fundraise for THON. It’s the moment you find out just how much money PSU students were able to raise for the families to cover costs of treatments and for research to help find a cure. When the numbers are brought up and you see the number was higher than the year before, you can’t help but scream, cry, and jump with joy, no matter how much your feet hurt. This year was a record-breaking total of $12,374,034.46 which is a remarkable amount of money and a perfect ending to my last THON as a Penn State student.