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Union students help rebuild NOLA schools

Posted on Nov 22, 2005

Rebuilding schools in New Orleans: A winter's break

An alternative Union College winter break program, “Katrina Relief: Rebuilding Schools in New Orleans,” is set for Nov. 29 to Dec. 6, giving participants the chance to rebuild schools in a district where families have moved back, but buildings remain uninhabitable because of hurricane damage.

Twenty-nine students (out of the 110 who applied) were selected to take part in restoring Franklin High School and Lusher Elementary and Middle High schools in the district where Union College student Laura Eyman '08 of Zachary, La., attended school. The district hopes to re-open the schools by Jan. 17.

Union's student group will be accompanied by Todd Clark, director of Residence Life, and Rev. Viki Brooks-McDonald, campus Protestant minister. 

New Orleans under water

The volunteers will paint, move furniture, set up the library and help with clerical tasks. Eyman's father, Carl Eyman, and a neighbor have offered the use of their New Orleans homes, which were not damaged. Currently, neither family is living there because of the school closings.

Funding for the trip was made possible through alumni donations, Union College student fundraising efforts, and personal contributions made by students, their families and Interim President James Underwood.

“This is a fantastic way for us to reach out and make a real difference,” said Clark, “To have our work affect the local community of a current Union student is very special, and having Union alumni believe so much in the power of something like this that he or she would donate the necessary funds to make it happen says a lot about the spirit of the Union College community.”

“Feeling helpless only makes us feel worse,” said Brooks-McDonald. “Overall, this has everything to do with a whole troop of kids trying to respond to the destruction of a natural disaster.”

To prepare for their journey, the group held meetings to discuss a variety of topics, such as cultural differences between the Northeast and the South, work site coordination, menu preparation and recreational options. Five subgroups were formed to fairly distribute responsibilities. One of the subgroups is in charge of documenting the entire process via journals, photos and video.

This effort is completely voluntary; students will not receive credit. Most who attended the last information session revealed that they had a feeling of helplessness while watching the events unfold on the television during Hurricane Katrina. 

“Students expressed that they want to be a part of the recovery process in New Orleans. Their true intention is to help a distraught community, not just have something good to put on a resume,” said Clark.

Students were asked to anonymously submit an essay explaining why they should be selected to go on the trip. Essays were read by committee members, who then made the selections.

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Union students present at national engineering conference

Posted on Nov 22, 2005

Tim Roth '06 and Amy Butterfield '05 presented posters at the 2005 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 9. The conference is the largest event focused on mechanical engineering technology and innovation.

Tim Roth '06

Roth's presentation, Light Transmission Characteristics of Thermochromic Liquid Crystals, was co-authored by Ann Anderson, professor of mechanical engineering.

Butterfield's Design and Performance Evaluation of Advanced Window Systems was co-authored by Richard Wilk, professor of mechanical engineering.

Both papers are published in the conference proceedings.

Roth's project involves the development of a novel temperature sensor that detects the amount of light transmitted through thermochromic liquid crystals as a technique for measuring temperature. Thermochromic liquid crystals are materials that change color with temperature.

“Tim has been working on this project for over a year, and he presented a poster at the conference on the first phase of the work, which was to test the feasibility of the idea,” Anderson said. She, Roth and Smitesh Bakrania '03 recently filed a provisional patent on their Light Transmission Based Liquid Crystal Temperature Sensor.

Butterfield's senior project in mechanical engineering last year focused on the design and evaluation of the performance of advanced window systems. 

“A significant amount of energy is consumed for the purpose of heating and cooling buildings, and windows are the key building component through which energy is gained and lost,” said Wilk. “Amy designed, built and tested prototypes of advanced concepts, including an air curtain window system and an aerogel window system. The ASME paper focused on the aerogel aspect of the project.”

One window unit incorporated aerogels made by Anderson's students in the College's NSF-funded Aerogel Fabrication Laboratory. Aerogels make promising window materials because they can be made almost completely transparent to light but extremely resistant to heat flow.

“At Union, we have the capability of making and characterizing our own aerogels and designing them for different applications,” Wilk said. “The ultimate goal is to one day have extremely efficient building envelopes, approaching the so-called “zero energy building.”   

Butterfield is currently pursuing a master's degree in mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech. She and Roth were part of a select group of students whose attendance at the meeting was funded by the heat transfer division of ASME.

The 125-year-old ASME is a 120,000-member professional organization focused on technical, educational and research issues of the engineering and technology community. It sets internationally recognized industrial and manufacturing codes and standards that enhance public safety. The conference presents cutting-edge engineering research.

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Emanuel Ax plays at Union Dec. 2

Posted on Nov 21, 2005

Emanuel Ax to play Union College concert series Dec. 2

Nov. 21, 2005

World-renowned pianist Emanuel Ax will perform at Union College's Memorial Chapel on Friday, Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. as part of the Union College chamber concert series.

Emanuel Ax. pianist

Born in Poland, Ax arrived on the music scene in 1974 at the age of 25 in a piano competition in Tel Aviv. Since then, he has received countless awards including a Grammy in 2004. He has played with the Boston Symphony and the New York Philharmonic along with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma. The New York Times has described him Ax as “a rare and marvelous artist.”

Ax's performance will include Brahms's The Four Ballades Op. 10, Liszt's No. 2 in b and Chopin's The Four Ballades.

Tickets are $25 for the general public and $10 for students; at the door one hour before the performance or available at the College Facilities Building (call 388-6080).

For further information, call 372-3651 or visit the Union College Web site at: http://www.union.edu/concertseries.

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Jack Howard-Potter’s (’97) art ‘steels’ Florida skies

Posted on Nov 21, 2005

'The Muse' in transport

She stands tall – 25-feet tall, to be exact, with a wingspan of 24 feet and a 13-foot wide stance. She's tough, too: made of 1,700 pounds of reinforced steel and 18 tons of concrete.

In addition, The Muse will be part of the Trust's inaugural Palm Beach International Sculpture Biennale, Feb. 16 through April 16. 

The new outdoor sculpture competition is designed to be a showcase for emerging sculptors as well as distinguished artists.

A native of New York City, Howard-Potter graduated from Union with a degree in studio art and art history.

Against the backdrop of palms.

His critically acclaimed senior show included 15 life-size figurative steel sculptures, which set a course for his future work. Following graduation, he worked and studied in Colorado and New York City. 

A resident of New Scotland, N.Y., in Albany County, he has exhibited at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, Vt.; the Big Rock Garden Park in Bellingham, Washington; and with the City of Coral Springs in Coral Springs, Fla.

He is a seventh-generation Union legacy whose ancestors include Alonzo Potter, Eliphalet Nott's son-in-law; Edward Tuckerman Potter, designer of the Nott Memorial; and Eliphalet Nott Potter, Union's seventh president.

For more on The Muse or the artist, visit http://culturaltrustpb.org/index.html or www.steelstatue.com

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Colleges concerned with federal wiretap law

Posted on Nov 20, 2005

Besides avalanches of spam, spyware and viruses, operators of college computer networks have another potentially expensive headache to keep an eye on: The federal government.

Changes to a wiretapping law could force schools to overhaul their networks so law enforcement can have easier access to electronic communications, as long as they get a warrant. And while campus officials say it's too early to panic, they hope to convince the Federal Communications Commission to go easy on them when it finalizes the changes.

“We have no idea what we'd have to do to comply and how much it would cost,” said David Cossey, Union College's chief information officer, echoing several others.

In August, the FCC passed a ruling that requires many providers of high-speed Internet access to gear up for wiretaps. Previously, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act applied only to more traditional telecommunications services.

Last week, the clock began ticking on an 18-month time frame institutions have to comply with the ruling — although the government has yet to spell out what compliance means.

Colleges, hospitals and other institutions that run their own networks are subject to the new rules. They aren't opposing the change on civil liberties grounds, because law enforcement still needs the same legal clearance to spy on individuals as it ever has.

Cost, though, has them concerned.

Sky-is-falling estimates could result in schools paying millions of dollars apiece, and billions nationwide, to completely revamp their networks. Because the FCC has yet to say what it wants, though, and is in the midst of weighing input from outsiders over how far to go and whom should be exempted from the requirements, technology pros are tempering their concern.

Even so, many in academia are asking: What's the point?

Of about 3,400 wiretap warrants issued in the United States last year, “we can't come up with more than a handful that came up on college campuses,” said Wendy Wigen, policy analyst with Educause, a national group that represents computer professionals at colleges and universities.

At the University at Albany and many other campuses, technology staffers say the schools already have the ability to give law enforcement access to electronic communication. But if the government wants to, say, monitor those communications remotely, or provide access to the communications as they happen, as opposed to sifting through them later, it could become a very expensive proposition.

“We don't want to have to re-engineer the entire network infrastructure for all of higher ed for 12 possible instances,” said Christine Haile, UAlbany's chief information officer. “I'm in a quandary of knowing exactly how to proceed.”

The FCC said it is applying the new standards because it wants to keep up with technological shifts.

Tim Lance, president and chairman of NYSERNet, an Internet provider that serves several nonprofit groups in New York State, said he recognizes that imperative. “We really want to help you be part of the answer, because we want to get the bad guys as much as you do,” said Lance. But he wasn't sure that new rules were the best way to go.

“It isn't clear what's broken that's being fixed by this,” he said.





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