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First-year engineers learn local history

Posted on Nov 9, 2010

John Harnden Jr. ’50, center, shows a bank of fluorescent lighting at the Edison Tech Center. From left are engineering students Isabel McRae, Junior Rivas, Kirk Seaman and Nick Brenn.

The back of the textbook that professor Frank Wicks uses for “Exploring Engineering,” a course for first-year students, lists the 20th century’s most important innovations.

At the top of the list: electricity.

So it makes sense to bring students to where it all began – Schenectady – with a field trip to the Edison Tech Center, “a hands-on workshop to introduce students to the wonders of electricity,” as Wicks describes it. “We’re trying to give them a sense of what happened here.”

The center at 136 Broadway, the former press building for the Schenectady Gazette, is filled with the entire history of electrical innovation, much of it born in Schenectady. On display are the 1914 Detroit Electric Car that belonged to Charles Proteus Steinmetz; dozens of light bulbs, from the earliest versions by Edison, to compact fluorescents used today; and household appliances ranging from irons to microwaves.

In 1894, J. Pierpont Morgan, who considered competition the enemy of profitability in the electrical industry, began a consolidation of manufacturers – including Edison Electric – that would become General Electric.

In 1926, Christian Steenstrup developed a sealed motor and compressor that would be integral to an appliance that would be in half of American households by the end of World War II: the refrigerator.

In the 1940s, Irving Langmuir, a GE scientist and frequent Union lecturer, predicted that the magnetron – the core of radar used in the war – would have another application: the microwave oven.

Guiding the way was John Harnden Jr. ’50, a retired GE engineer with a number of patents to his credit. Harnden, a founder of the center, received an Outstanding Alumni Engineering Award from the College at ReUnion in May.

“GE is the biggest player in the region,” said student Kirk Seaman. “The Global Research Center is the most technologically advanced place in the region.”

“Why do they call it the Electric City?” asked professor Abe Tchako. “It’s not just the light bulb. It’s pioneers like Charles Steinmetz and Thomas Edison.”

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Bookstore site gets a facelift

Posted on Nov 8, 2010

Bookstore website

Have you been browsing for books or Union gear lately? Perhaps you’ve noticed that the official Bookstore website is now easier to navigate.

The Office of Communications and Marketing recently partnered with the Bookstore to redesign the site. It now sports a cleaner look, simpler navigation and clearer focus on “gifts, products, technology, textbooks.” The new site blends well with the new www.union.edu to support a unified identify for Union that visitors will instantly recognize.

“Many alumni and parents visit the site, and improving their experience and ability to locate merchandise as well as featuring products on various pages should keep our store more robust,” said Tim Porter, Bookstore manager.

Jason Slater, Web manager, worked on the site with Roubina Morgan, Bookstore administrative assistant. To view the new site, click here.

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Chrsitianne Stotijn, Boston Camarata to perform over break

Posted on Nov 8, 2010

Christianne Stotijn, mezzo-soprano


Mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn and pianist Joseph Breinl will perform "Dream Works," a program of Grieg, Brahms, R. Strauss, Tschaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Rachmaninov Saturday, Nov. 27 at 8 p.m. in Memorial Chapel as part of the College’s Chamber Concert Series.

The Delft-born Stotijn and Munich native Breinl work together regularly and have performed in top recital venues and with leading orchestras throughout the world. Both are impeccably trained and have received numerous honors.

Born in 1977, Stotijn studied violin and voice at the Amsterdam Conservatoire, gaining her solo diploma in 2000. She continued her vocal studies with Udo Reinemann at the Conservatoires of Amsterdam and Metz, where she graduated in 2003 with the highest distinction in song recital and opera. She also studied with Jard van Nes and Dame Janet Baker, with whom she has been compared.

She has performed at Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and at Lincoln Center with the London Symphony Orchestra under Bernard Haitink. She is the recipient of numerous prizes, including the 2005/06 ECHO Rising Stars Award, the 2005 Borletti Buitoni Award, the prestigious Dutch Music Prize and, in April of this year, the BBC Music Magazine Vocal Award for her Tchaikovsky Romances CD.

Joseph Breinl

An impassioned performer of lieder, she has appeared in recitals and concerts at the world’s premier concert halls, including London’s Wigmore Hall, New York’s Carnegie Hall and the Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels. She has performed in top roles at the Paris Opera, Netherlands Opera, the Monnaie and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Breinl’s international career includes performances at prestigious festivals and venues in Europe, North America and Asia, including the Munich Opera Festival, Austria’s Schubertiade, Wigmore Hall, Symphony Hall in Osaka, Stockholm Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall and Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center. Born in 1977, he is the son of Gerhard Breinl, a violist in the Bavarian State Orchestra.

Boston Camerata, directed by Anne Azema

Boston Camerata, under the direction of Anne Azema, will perform Sunday, Dec. 13 at 3 p.m. Founded in 1954, the group plays historically informed compositions from European medieval, Renaissance and Baroque eras is one of the world’s oldest continually functioning early music ensembles.

At Union, Boston Camerata’s distinguished singers and specialists in early instruments will present “An American Christmas,” featuring American music from a wide range of early tune books and manuscripts. The performance will include many carols, New England anthems, hymns and religious ballads for the season.

Both shows are free to members of the Union community. Sotijn and Breinl are $20 for the general public; Boston Camarata is $25. For more information call 388-6080, or visit http://www.union.edu/ConcertSeries

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Union College leads in energy

Posted on Nov 4, 2010

Workers recently installed three 1.2 kilowatt wind turbines near the soccer fields adjacent to College Park Hall, another step in the College’s sustainability efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.

The turbines will supply 40 percent of the power used regularly at the athletic complex, including for lights and the scoreboard, reducing the College’s energy costs by several thousand dollars a year. In addition, students in Richard Wilk’s mechanical engineering classes will use the turbines to study the potential of wind power and other renewable energy sources.

A number of media outlets were on hand to chronicle the installation. Among them:

YNN, Time Warner

Fox23 News

The Daily Gazette

Times Union

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“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” at Yulman through Sunday

Posted on Nov 4, 2010

Benjamin Romer '11, Dead Man's Cell Phone

“Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” a farce by awarding-winning playwright Sarah Ruhl that opened at the Yulman Theater Wednesday, runs tonight, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with a Sunday matinee at 2. Department of Theater and Dance Chair William Finlay is the show’s director.

The play focuses on the technology-obsessed Jean, who answers the cell phone of a dead man named Gordon.  

“Abstract, animated and funny,” is how Jackie Toop ’12 describes it. Toop is cast in the role of Gordon’s distressed mother, Mrs. Gottlieb.

Other cast member include Shannon Vanderwalker ’11 as Jean; Benjamin Romer ’11, Gordon;  Ryan Semerad ’13, Gordon’s brother, Dwight; Jillian DeBono ’13, The Other Woman; and Robyn Belt ’14, Hermia. Sets are by Charles Steckler, with Anne Woodward as stage designer and Steven Michalek, production manager and tech director. Brittany Belz, visiting assistant professor, is costumer.

Tickets are available at the Yulman Box Office; call 388-6545. The cost is $7 with a Union ID and $10 for general admission.  

View the event in the Campus Calendar

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