EMEX 2011 Attracks a Crowd

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It was the reason I came to Penn State. I loved how students felt connected to the College," says Steven Curtis, student council president, remembering the influence the Earth and Mineral Sciences Exposition (EMEX) had on his college-choice decision. All students who are considering an Earth and Mineral Science (EMS) major are invited to attend the annual recruiting event. This year, EMEX was held on February 25-26, 2011.

Knowing that EMEX can have such a powerful effect is one of the reasons Steven and his co-chairs, Natalie Gerber (freshman, Energy Business and Finance), Zak Khayat (freshman, Energy Engineering), and Jackie Layer (sophomore, Meteorology) started preparing for it months in advance. "I think we're rare in EMS because this big event is really student led," Curtis said. "Certainly faculty and staff support us, but students take the leadership role."

 Prospective students who arrived on Friday attended classes with their student sponsors and met with alumni in their fields to learn more about college choice and careers. Joel Reed, a 1982 materials science and engineering graduate emphasized the "amazing network of Penn State alumni" as one of the reasons he chose Penn State. Cheryl Nelson, a 2002 meteorology graduate, credited the College with her diverse skill set that has allowed her to easily transition from a broadcast journalist to a weather forecaster to her current position, making disaster training films for the military.

Also on Friday night, the residents of Irvin Hall, the Special Living Option for EMS, sponsored an evening of icebreaking activities, including a dance with a DJ, sports, and games. While students were socializing, parents and their families were treated to dinner at the Atherton Hotel where they had the opportunity to meet other families and ask questions of the deans, faculty, staff, and EMS students.

Saturday morning came early to the hearty set-up crew that began inflating balloons at 4:30 a.m. to line the pathways to the Deike Building. Popular each year is the complimentary breakfast of tasty donuts and bagels. At 9 a.m. Dean Easterling gave his opening remarks.

He highlighted the "small feel" of the College whose faculty to student ratio is 12:1. He mentioned that students are "trained by the best faculty in the world," and "all five of the College's departments rank within the top 10 nationally." He spoke of the College's leading research in many areas including energy security, climate change, mine safety, and understanding the world's biosphere. Associate Dean for Education John Hellmann also welcomed the families and encouraged them to explore the College and its offerings.

Throughout the day, prospective students spoke with members of Earth and Mineral Engineering, Geography, Geosciences, Materials Science Engineering and Meteorology and took advantage of the unique exhibits from each of these departments. This year, the glass blowing station, the weather balloon launch, and the ceramic fabrication were particularly popular. The Lion Scouts were also on hand to give campus tours.

Each year feedback is collected from the attendees to tweak the event toward perfection. "We always hear that there's too much to do, but we see that as a good thing," Curtis said as he glanced down at the large notebook he maintains to keep track of the all the details. "One of this year's goals was to increase the number of volunteers, and we accomplished this through the use of new digital recruitment forms."

Lots of faculty, staff, and student volunteers interacted with over 204 prospective students who came from as far away as California and as close as Centre County. The volunteers were easy to spot in their blue EMEX t-shirts designed by sophomores Pam Remetta and Katie Calais. This year's design incorporated Twitter, the social network site, into the theme. At the close of EMEX 2011, there was nothing but sweet tweets of success.

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