August 2009 Archives


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Longing for Home.jpg
The semester is a week underway, and perhaps some of you may be feeling a bit homesick. One of the best solutions is to get involved in activities and make new friends. Getting involved in campus activities is also a good step towards becoming an EMSAGE Laureate.

Here's a specific suggestion: join the new EMS running club. This week the emerging EMS running club voted on the best times to run. Based on the poll, Monday evenings and Tuesday afternoons are preferable. Wednesday evenings were a close second.

However we do have some morning runners! Half of the respondents wanted to run on Thursday morning. Check out the schedule for September designed to fit all top preferences.

September Running Schedule
9/8     Tuesday         12:30 p.m.
9/10    Thursday         8:30 a.m.
9/14    Monday           5:15 p.m.
9/16    Wednesday     5:15 p.m.
9/22    Tuesday         12:30 p.m.
9/24    Thursday          8:30 a.m.
9/28    Monday            5:15 p.m.
9/30    Wednesday      5:15 p.m.

We can try this out, and make adjustments in October. Remember the days will be getting shorter, so in the fall, we may want to run earlier in the day. Let's meet outside in front of Rec Hall on the Nittany Lion Shrine side on Tuesday, September 8 and run for fun!

On another note...I have Writing Center appointments available each day for the next two weeks--except on 9/10 and 9/11. I'll be out of the office on these two days.

Lots of new friendships were formed during TOTEMS at Lake Raystown this week. New clubs were discussed too.

Here you see the nascent RFSC running group. The group of about 20 students (more joined shortly after the pre-run stretches) ran in the sweltering heat and planned ways to run together in the fall.

All paces are accommodated, and the only purpose is social exercise. Although it is quite possible if you come out for the fun, you'll be able to sign up for one of the many races on campus or in nearby communities. To learn more about the RFSC runners, contact me. (We'll need a new name. Any suggestions?) If you'd like to learn more about local races, go to the Nittany Valley Running Club website.

On another note, if you'd like to meet with me this week (8/24-8/28) at the Writing Center, please call (814-863-6077) or email me at to make an appointment. I have appointments available each day. 


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Totems began today at 9 a.m. as faculty, staff, and upperclassmen from EMS headed over to the dorms to greet students and their families and help them with move-in. Wearing brightly colored red shirts, the willing helpers made quick work of the unloading. Parents smiled gratefully to see how few trips it took to completely empty the college paraphernalia that had littered their cars just moments before.

After move-in, students and their families were treated to a tasty lunch in the Ryan Family Student Center. A local favorite, Clem's BBQ, set out a spread of pork, chicken, beans, potato salad, fruit, and cold water and soda. At 2:30 p.m. it was time for students to board the buses for Raystown Lake for a fun-filled three days. The purpose of TOTEMS is to welcome freshmen, give them a chance to meet faculty and staff in a casual setting, and help make new friends.

Just before the buses departed, one younger sibling who was standing between his parents reached his arms around their shoulders,and sensing his parents needed some laughter said with a smile, "We've been trying to get rid of him for years." The mom caught a tear in her eye and smiled.

solar house 3.jpg
Our last LEAP experience brought us back to Penn State's campus to tour the natural fusion solar decathlon house for 2009. We met Brian Goodykoontz, construction project manager, and Kyle Macht, team leader, on-site. Both Brian and Kyle graduated in May with degrees in architectural engineering, and they hold leadership positions in the Penn State Solar Decathlon Team 2009.

The team brings together multiple disciplines to design, build, and operate an energy-efficient solar powered home. We had the oportunity to ask these knowledgeable leaders about the process. We also discussed an important upcoming event. In October the team of 190 students will compete in the 2009 Solar Decathlon sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The house will travel to Washington, D.C. (quite a process in its own right) and compete against teams from as far away as Germany. The competition takes place on the National Mall from October 9-17. You can learn more by going to and

Kyle and Brian want you to know that if you're in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and you'd like to help, they need you! Contact Kyle at 

PPL .jpgFor our fifth LEAP field trip, we went to PPL Electric Utilities Corporation and US Gypsum (USG) in Washingtonville, PA. Safety Environmental Manager John Tripoli informed us that demand for electricity has increased 40 percent since 1990. To meet this demand, PPL uses approximately 100 railcars a day of bituminous coal, each weighing about 130 tons. The plant burns 275 tons of coal per hour to keep the steam powered turbines generating electricity.

The second stop was the United States Gypsum Company, a subsidiary of USG Corporation. It is North America's largest manufacturer of gypsum-based products. These products are used in building materials for a variety of construction applications (e.g., tiling, flooring, walls). Larry LaBuz, the supervisor of coal combustion products, explained the process of how the desulfurization of flue gasses provides about 600,000 tons/year of "synthetic" gypsum to USG.

Scott Shafer, the plant manager of USG took us on a long walk through the new facility. He told us the plant was equivalent to six football fields in length. He stated, "because the housing market is depressed, USG is currently operating below capacity." Once again, students were surprised to see the dynamic relationship of two large production processes. As one student remarked, "One man's trash is another man's treasure after all!"

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