Steinmetz Symposium: A robust day for research

Publication Date

As a lab technician in the Collaborative Design Studio, Kadeam Vendryes ’15 is used to speaking to tour groups going through the Peter Irving Wold Center about the new Stratasys Connex 500.

More commonly known as a 3D printer, the machine and its captivating capabilities is an endless source of questions deftly handled by Vendryes.

Yet he admits he was a little nervous as he, along with Joshua Fields ’15, prepared for their first large-scale presentation about the machine.

“I’ve been working on this since the beginning of winter term,” said Fields, a mechanical engineering major from Queens, N.Y. of a machine that has created custom-fit patches for dragonfly eyes during prey tracking experiments and tiny saddles which fit over the prothrax of a grasshopper, among other research projects.

“This symposium is a great event to see all of the wonderful opportunities here at Union.”

Vendryes was among hundreds of students, faculty and parents who fanned out across campus Friday to celebrate undergraduate research as part of the 24th annual Steinmetz Symposium.

More than 400 students participated in this year’s event, which featured oral and poster presentations as well as a dance performance, musical concerts, an art exhibit and other activities.

Following tradition, classes were canceled for the day to allow the campus to sample projects from every discipline.

“Many faculty and staff say that Steinmetz is their favorite day of the year. It is a day of community where we all get to share in the achievements of our students in the academic sphere,” said Kristin Fox, associate professor of chemistry and director of undergraduate research.

Hands-on, faculty-mentored undergraduate research is a staple of the Union experience. One student who wanted to share his project Friday was Troy Grosenick ‘14. The former goaltender for the men’s hockey team who collected a bucket of academic and athletic honors, Grosenick left Union after his junior year last year to sign an entry-level contract with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.

A member of the Sharks’ farm team in Worcester, Mass., Grosenick always intended to get his degree. He completed his coursework in November, and his diploma was mailed to him in December. He will walk with his class at Commencement next month.

“If there was any way I could come back and present at Steinmetz, I wanted to do it,” he said.

An economics major, the Wisconsin native presented on a topic close to his heart: “Money Puck: The Effectiveness of Statistical Analysis in Building an NHL Team.” Using a number of case studies, he showed how the path to a Stanley Cup may be easier by signing a collection of lesser-known players at a lower cost than signing a single star player to a multi-million dollar contract.

For some students, one Steinmetz presentation wasn’t enough; instead, they doubled up. Amanda Weld ’14, is majoring in classics and mathematics. In the morning, she presented on “Optimizing Care in Osteoporosis using GIS,” and in the afternoon on “Fatum in Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid.”

“I’m relieved it’s over,” she said, moments after wrapping up her final presentation in Lamont House by declaring that “Zeus is indeed the mightiest of them all.”

Other highlights Friday included demonstrations by the mechanical engineering teams that built a Baja car, an airplane and a human-powered vehicle.

For a complete list of presentations, visit the Steinmetz website.

In the afternoon, more than 70 performers took the stage in the Nott Memorial for the Lothridge Festival of Dance to share their talents in all styles of dance, from ballet and Bhangra to Balinese. There were faculty choreographies along with student dance projects.

Following the dance performance, the 2014 Edward Villella Fellowship was presented to three dance minors: Jillian Callanan ’16 (an American studies major), Marisa Lieberman ’15 (economics) and Samantha Moyer ’14 (art history).

“These dancers have shown great dedication to their art form, through various dance classes, workshops, our annual winter concerts and Steinmetz shows,” said Dance Program Director Miryam Moutillet.

Also, the annual Visual Arts Student Art Exhibit, on view in the Burns Arts Atrium Gallery, featured the most accomplished student works completed during the 2013-14 academic year – more than 149 pieces by 135 students.

Curated by Visual Arts faculty members, the exhibit includes works from classes in photography, sculpture, digital art and video, painting, drawing, printmaking, etching and design.

In the evening, a concert by the Union College and Community Orchestra and the Union College and Community Chorale, under the direction of John Cox, director of performance and lecturer in choral and orchestral music, was held in Memorial Chapel.

Steinmetz Symposium coincided with Prize Day on Saturday in Memorial Chapel, followed by a reception on the Reamer Campus Center patio.

Students were honored for achievement in academics, research, service and governance. Among the top awards given were the Josephine Daggett Prize to the senior for conduct and character (Maria Dreeszen) and the Frank Bailey (1885) Prize, to the senior who has rendered the greatest service to the College in any field (Amy Loya).

For a complete list of winners, click here.

Also, the Union College Jazz Ensemble, led by Professor Tim Olsen, performed in Emerson Auditorium.

The Steinmetz Symposium is named for Charles Proteus Steinmetz (1865-1923), who taught electrical engineering and applied physics at Union. Also chief consulting engineer for the General Electric Company, he was widely regarded as America’s leading electrical engineer.