February 2010 Archives

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She read the rules, studied floor plans, identified sections, selected portals, and handed out maps with arrows to guide her battalion. As the doors opened at 4 p.m. on Friday, the students from the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences stormed the Bryce Jordan Center and secured a prime location close to the stage to be able to give the best support to their dancers: Greg Ferro, James Yulich, Andrew Rengel and Seth Kutikoff. With the preparation and discipline of a staff sergeant, Simone Gleicher, EMS Thon Committee Chairperson left nothing to chance on this day and on the months of preparation prior to THON. The result was a record $55,036 raised for the Four Diamonds Funds and this year's dance marathon.

Hours of preparation and hard work go into this fundraising effort. Greg Ferro, a junior meteorology major was the EMS canning chair this year. "He was a big reason why our total was so high," said Simone. Driving many miles, giving up lots of hours of weekend time to sleep on the floor and stand outside in the cold to collect for THON is all part of the effort. Early on Simone learned that the art of persuasion was a skill she was going to need. "Persuading freshmen why THON should interest them is difficult because they've never actually witnessed it, and it's hard to describe."  But canning is crucial to raising a lot of money, and she worked hard to get everyone involved. In addition to canning, additional successful fundraising events such as penny wars, wall of diamonds, and pizza sales were superbly organized by James Yulich, a junior geography major.
The THON experience is not just about bringing in the money. It's also about connecting to the families of those whose lives have been touched by pediatric cancer. "Our THON families make THON what it is," said Simone. The Brewer family was the original THON family for the College. Troy Brewer passed away in 2006, just a few weeks after THON. Many of the alumni that the Brewers knew have graduated, but this year, the Brewer family called a few days before the event and expressed their interest in attending again. "They started the emotion and the spirit behind the College of EMS THON. It was an honor to have them here with us," said Simone
The EMS THON family for this year is the Woods. They have five children, and nine-year-old Michael is currently cancer free. Lauren Kohl, a sophomore in Energy, Business, and Finance and the EMS Family Relations Chair, was in constant contact with the family. She did a great job communicating to the 100+ students in the various committees by sending biweekly progress reports and letting the committed volunteers understand just what "For the Kids" means to the individual families facing the threat of cancer.
Around 1 p.m. on Sunday, Family Hour takes place. Both the Brewers and the Woods were present, along with the many student volunteers.  "This is when the slide show of THON children is played. There are also slides of children who were defeated by cancer. There are tears of joy and sadness. The Brewers were there sharing the tears with us, and the Woods family brought in all of the cheer.  The combination was spectacular, and as I looked in the College of EMS crowd, there was not a dry eye to be seen.  This is a defining moment of THON, and a good answer to why we THON," said Simone.
The dancers also make THON what it is.  Participating in a no-sitting, no-sleeping, two-day dance marathon takes stamina and determination. One of the dancers, Andrew Rengel , said he ended up going 58 hours with no sleep! "All our dancers were absolute heroes, and completely obliterated the challenge presented to them," said Simone.
At 6 p.m. on Sunday evening a lot of talented, hard-working, EMS college students were exactly where you'd expect them to be--sleeping with satisfaction knowing they were in the top five among independent organizations for THON fundraising 2010.  

Seeing Growth in Green

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The following is an article published in the Graduating Engineer. It can be found online at the following link: http://www.graduatingengineer.com/articles/20100119/Seeing-Growth-in-Green:-the-2009-Solar-Decathlon.

Seeing Growth in Green: the 2009 Solar Decathlon

The U.S. government, through the Department of Energy (DOE), hosted the biannual Solar Decathlon in October 2009. 20 teams competed in 10 contests to determine which team designed, constructed, and operated the most attractive, energy-efficient solar-powered house.

By Kimberly Del Bright

President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law on February 17, 2009, proposed to spend $787 billion to create and save jobs, particularly by investing in domestic renewable energy. According to Laurence Shatkin, an occupational expert, many new jobs for engineers are in the green technology sector. In his book, 200 Best Jobs for Renewing America, Shatkin forecasts 20% job growth with average annual earnings slightly above $70,000 for environmental and industrial engineers as businesses look for ways to reduce energy and operational costs, particularly in construction industries.

To support this initiative, the U.S. government, through the Department of Energy (DOE), hosted the biannual Solar Decathlon. In October 2009, 20 teams competed in 10 contests to determine which team designed, constructed, and operated the most attractive, energy-efficient solar-powered house. Undergraduates from the United States, Spain, Germany, and Canada brought their homes to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to create a solar village. At the opening of the competition, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced $87 million will be made available to speed adoption of solar energy nationwide and increase the probability of new scientific breakthroughs. "The projects will help accelerate the use of solar energy by residents, businesses, and communities and promote the long-term viability of solar energy by investing in the technologies of the future," said Secretary Chu.

One of the teams in this year's event is from The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania. Over 92 students from 13 disciplines (e.g., architectural engineering, environmental engineering, materials, mass communications, supply chain) participated in bringing the team's entry, Natural Fusion, to reality. The 796-sq. ft. exterior, one-bedroom, one-bathroom home has 5.6 kW solar power capacity; 5.2kW--27 thin-film, cylinder-shaped photovoltaics individually rated at 191 W; and a 450 W tracking solar awning. The cost of the home, including all systems, equipment, and transportation is approximately $283,000. The team's faculty director is Dr. Jeffrey R. S. Brownson, researcher and professor of energy and mineral engineering, and the team's media liaison is Thomas Rauch, an undergraduate in Energy, Business and Finance. They shared their perspectives on green technologies, solar power, and the competition.

Why did you join the Solar Decathlon Team?

Brownson:We all sense the great capacity of the sun from its warmth and light, the foods that we grow, and the wind that shapes the weather. My passion is developing solar energy in society as a major supplier of global heat and power. When the initial students approached me to support their effort, I saw a mirror of that passion and also our future.

Rauch: I came into Penn State with the intention of getting involved immediately. I heard about the Natural Fusion team and within only a few weeks, I started doing little things for the team. Once I had proved myself they let me take on more responsibilities. By the end of that semester, I had a calendar full of to-do lists. The reason I was able to throw myself so fully into the project was that I wanted to dedicate myself to the ideals of the team. I have conviction about our message.

Why are you personally interested in "green"?

Brownson: "Green" encompasses the ethical conduct of right speech, right action, and right livelihood, which extends "the good life" to the global community in a sustainable manner.

Mostly, it's the principle of the matter. There is a basic logic about sustainability that is fundamental to the survival of our people on this planet. We must come up with new ways to support the demands of our advancing and expanding population. "Green" is that movement. "Green" is a major frontier for innovation and creativity.

The house the team built was called Natural Fusion--can you describe the integrative design?

Each design element was formed to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Natural Fusion is all about blending the design with the environment. For example, the windows and opening glass walls (tri-fold doors) along the southern façade are transparent to "fuse" the interior and exterior landscape, creating the appearance of a larger space within the home. Six gardens (sense, bio-intensive, living wall, wildlife attractant, xeric limestone meadow, and green roof) add greenery and help the home form a bond with the outside.

Rauch: The home has public and private areas separated by the Nexus, or heart of the home. The Nexus is where all the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing reside. The public area is a "great room" combining the living/dining rooms and the kitchen. The island in the kitchen conveniently expands into a table for more seating and to provide a dining room. The private area includes the bedroom and bath. The tranquility of the home is enhanced by making all the parts connected to a green space. For example, the bedroom opens to the sense garden. In every way, the house was designed to blend naturally into the environment.

There are some state-of-the-art technologies for the electrical aspects of the house. What were these?

Brownson: The main source of the solar electric power is from the Green Roof Integrated Photovoltaics, otherwise known as GRIPVs (pronounced "grip-vees"). Natural Fusion is the first residential project to use Solyndra cylindrical panels. Once we found out about them, we knew we wanted to use them. The cylindrical design of the PVs enables the panels to capture more sunlight throughout the entire course of the day--360° of direct and indirect sunlight. Underneath the panels is a white roof that reflects the light passing through the panels to the underside of the collectors, which increases the efficiency of the system.

Rauch: The home faces south for maximum passive solar gain too. A solar awning is mounted above the southern doors, and this helps with shading from the summer sun. On the awning, three silicon cells cover each of the tracking louvers maximizing power production by following the sun. Inverters are used to convert each string of "solar fins" directly to air conditioning before entering the house. Plus, the solar hot water system is pump-less! It requires no mechanical controls or pumps and consumes no energy. We also installed a highly, efficient Energy Dashboard to help the homeowner monitor his/her energy use. We used the Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) to provide fresh air to the house without sacrificing the energy contained in the exhaust air stream.

Would you share any observations you made about the future of green technologies, and in particular solar photovoltaic ones, based on your experience at the Solar Decathlon?

Brownson: There is enormous momentum building in the field. Sustainable Energy technologies are on the rise in a manner similar to the growth of the microelectronics industry, including both energy supply, storage, and demand side management of energy use. The interesting note to this development is the global nature of the boom. Early decisions, some as early as 30 years ago, put the United States currently behind the curve in this boom, as opposed to leading the charge. That is not to say that we will stay there! The signs from our young minds--initiative, creativity, passion for a sustainability ethic, civic-minded responsibility, skill in communication--suggest that American efforts will propel the field forward with the newest generation of graduates.

Rauch: The future is now. To borrow from President Obama, "We are the ones we've been waiting for." The technology is available and relatively simple to install and in many cases is a good investment for the home. I think that many of the students who are studying these fields are headed into a vortex of innovation that is going to spin out major changes in the way that we operate our infrastructure. Be excited, passionate, and dedicated. Look forward to the hard work ahead as a great opportunity.

What sources of information--books, web, journals, etc.--are on your "short list" for newly graduated engineers if they want to learn more about developments in solar-powered construction?

Brownson: Here's my short list.

I. Solar Photovoltaics:

PVCDROM: http://pvcdrom.pveducation.org/
Build It Solar references: http://www.builditsolar.com/References/collectoranalysisrs.htm
Solar Buzz: http://www.solarbuzz.com/
American Solar Energy Society: http://www.ases.org/
Florida Solar Energy Center: http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/

II. Energy Simulation, Design Tools, Costing Tools for Sustainable Technologies:

Solar Engineering of Thermal Processes: text by Duffie and Beckman. An old standard for core knowledge on the solar resource and technologies. http://www.amazon.com/Solar-Engineering-Thermal-Processes-Duffie/dp/0471698679
UW Solar Energy Laboratory: http://sel.me.wisc.edu/
TRNSYS software: http://www.trnsys.com/
Energy Design Tools: http://www.energy-design-tools.aud.ucla.edu/
RETScreen software: http://www.retscreen.net/ang/t_software.php
Passive Solar Design: http://passivesolar.sustainablesources.com/
SMARTS software: http://www.nrel.gov/rredc/smarts/
Google SketchUp and the SunTools plugin: http://tx.technion.ac.il/~arrguedi/SunTools/dwnld_after_reg/STdwnld.htm

Rauch: A ton of information is available about these topics. Probably the best bet to keep up with the industry is to get in on one of the solar industry journals. Check out Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Personally, I read Scientific American every month, which is a great resource on all scientific advancement. You never know what will bring about your next great idea. Finally, look for podcasts, which are the easiest way to keep on top of news and information as far as I'm concerned.

The final judging evaluated the home's architecture, marketability, comfort, home entertainment, lighting design, and the incorporation of solar energy features. This year a new net metering contest was used to measure how much net energy was obtained. Despite the Natural Fusion team's best efforts, it did not win the competition this year. Germany did--just like 2007. (For more information on the final scores, go to www.solardecathlon.org.) One thing is for certain: job growth is likely for engineers in the United States and globally in green technologies, particularly in renewable energy innovation.

Kimberly Del Bright is a writer and educator at the Pennsylvania State University in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Her work has appeared in journals, newspapers, and magazines.

environmental engineeringdesign

Articles > Feature Articles 

Three of the more unusual citation questions I've been asked recently concern how to cite indirect sources, personal communications, and Facebook/Twitter posts. Here is what you need to know to sort out these esoteric citation issues.

Indirect Sources
This week a student asked, "What happens if I have to cite something that is already cited in the source that I'm citing. Can't I just act like I used the original source and cite it like I usually would?" (This student was asking about citing an indirect source: using a source that was cited in another source.) Of course, the answer is no because as good writers we can never find ourselves "acting." Whenever possible, it is best to find and reference the original source rather than use an indirect source. It is the only way to know for sure that you are accurately representing the material presented in the original source. However, if you don't have time to track down the original source--and you know your audience is much less formal--then you can include an indirect source. The two most common styles are APA and MLA. The OWL at Purdue shows the standard format for both of these citation styles for an indirect source.
         APA           Johnson argued that...(as cited in Smith, 2003, p. 102).
         MLA           Raavitch argues that high schools are pressured to act as "social
                           service centers, and they don't do that well" (qtd. in Weisman 259).

Personal Communications
Primary sources include conversations, e-mails, letters, and other person-to-person communications. APA style doesn't include these in the reference list because they are not recoverable information; it does include them in-text. Here's an example based on the format from the APA webpage.

         In-text          U.R. Bright (personal communication, February 10, 2010) stated...

The MLA format includes the information in-text and also in the works cited. Here are examples.

         In-text           Diane Chin, the head researcher states in an e-mail...
         Works Cited  Chin, Diane. E-mail to author. 7 Mar. 2008.

As the author, you are responsible for making sure you accurately represent the source. Obviously there are more opportunities to use personal communication citations unethically because they are harder to verify.

Facebook and Twitter
Just yesterday I received an e-mail for a new business communication textbook with a segment for students concerning how to use Twitter for research. The use of social networking cites is evolving, and the citation style guides are updating to stay abreast of the new developments.

For example, on the APA website for October 26, 2009, Chelsea Lee, a blogger for the APA discusses citing posts or feeds in general as well as citing particular posts. The information is detailed and available at the following URL:


Amy Vecchione, a librarian for Boise State has compiled a webpage for citing Twitter and Facebook in MLA format at the following URL:


She also gives helpfu advice on citing YouTube.

Always keep in mind citations are used to support your points and build your credibility as a writer. For some audiences, using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube is appropriate, but for others, it is not. It's important to use appropriate sources for each audience.

What has stumped you when you're citing sources? Send me your questions. Together we can make sense of the conventions and evolutions of using sources well to become better writers. 


You've decided to use a source to support your point, but should you use a direct quotation or paraphrase the idea. How do you decide?

The short answer: Choose direct quotations when the passage has PERSONALITY!

The long answer: Both direct quotations and paraphrasing are used to contribute to an idea in your writing. You build credibility as a writer by including them; however, paraphrasing should be used most of the time. In other words, use direct quotations sparingly and only if, (a) you want to retain the eloquence of the author's words, (b) you need to show how the author's specific word choice impacts the point, (c) you plan to develop and discuss the quotation fully.

Strive to keep the direct quotation as short as possible. (This may require the use of ellipses.) If it is longer than four lines, set it off as an indented block. (Indented blocks do not have quotation marks at the beginning and end.) Make sure to quote accurately and include every quoted passage in quotation marks. Some less sophisticated writers include direct quotations because they want to avoid having to think of how to express the idea using their own words. Laziness should not be the reason for choosing to include a direct quotation. Do the hard work for your reader. Patching together a bunch of direct quotations will make a paper choppy, hard to follow, and less integrated.

One way to integrate direct quotations and paraphrasing into your text is to use lead-in verbs (also know as verbs of attribution). The most common verb of attribution is states (or stated). For example, Yogi Berra stated, "If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else!" Here's a handy list of many common lead-in verbs to get you where you need to go.

List of attributive verbs:

accepts           assumes         contends          explains           notes            retorts
accounts for     believes           contents          expresses        objects          reveals
acknowledges  categorizes      criticizes          finds                observes       sees
addresses        challenges       decides            grants             offers             speculates
adds                charges           declares           hypothesizes   opposes        states
admits             cites                declares           illustrates        points out      suggests
advises            claims             defines             implies            proposes       supports
affirms             comments       denies              indicates         questions       supposes
agrees             compares        describes         insinuates        realizes         thinks
alleges             complains       disagrees         insists             reasons         uses
allows              concedes        discusses        interprets         refutes           utilizes
analyzes          concludes        disputes           introduces       rejects           verifies
answers           concurs           emphasizes      lists                remarks          writes
argues             confesses        endorses          maintains        replies      
asks                confirms          exclaims                                responds
asserts            considers       

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