On Monday, April 24, the State College Borough Building featured the Campus and Community Sustainability EXPO, where students showcased projects focused on sustainability.
“Every semester students at Penn State are partnered with community organizations, it could be local government, school districts or nonprofits, to work on projects related to sustainability,” Michele Halsell, the director of sustainable communities collaborative said.
Halsell said the event gives students a chance to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to some real world problems. She also said it encompassed students from a variety of majors, including communications and public relations, arts and architecture, agriculture, information sciences and technology, liberal arts, geography, energy engineering and others. The projects were diverse as well.
“There are a number of projects related to energy and energy efficiency, renewable energy,” Halsell said. “Also a lot of projects related to storm water mitigation and storm water management. There are projects related to human health, so there are projects about traffic safety, there are also projects about outdoor activities.”
Steph Chasi (senior-public relations) worked on the partner relations team for a project called Centered Outdoors.
“We made a digital media toolkit, and it had press releases, fact sheets, and a welcome letter for all our partners. We have 15 different partners, such as the YMCA, the hospital, and we want to make them feel welcome and part of the community initiative,” Chasi said.
Chasi said the project targeted families and Centre County, and encouraged them to visit 12 different destinations over the course of the summer. The app, which was also designed by students allows people to track which places they’ve been and encourages them to lead a healthy lifestyle by spending time outdoors.
Johnny Zuniga (senior-recreation, parks and tourism management) was tasked by the State College Borough to conduct research and focus groups to find out if an action skate park would be a worthwhile investment for the community.
Zuniga said he and his team found that that it would be worth it.
“There’s a huge need for it, from little kids all the way up to high school students, and even some adults, because they have no place to skate or rollerblade here in state college,” Zuniga said.
Still other students were paired with the State College Police Department and worked on traffic and pedestrian safety put on another project, called “Drive Aware Walk With Care,” said Brianna Varano (senior-public relations).
Varano said her COMM 473 class put on events to promote traffic safety, like a Valentine’s Day event where she and her classmates gave out candy and reminded people to walk and drive with care.
Alan Hunt (junior-energy engineering) said he worked on a project for a resident of State College who was interested in keeping his pool heated to 91 degrees.
“Right now we are looking at putting solar panels all around the pool,” Hunt said. “Basically, we found that if you put the solar panels flat on the ground you’re going to have a positive value. We’re still evaluating the payback period.”
Members of club called Enactus showcased their Project BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike). Enactus is a social enterprise club, affiliated with the social entrepreneurship club.
Member Nikhil Bharadwaj (junior-energy engineering) explained the project and said that was a social enterprise aiming to build electric bikes to promote biking as an alternative to driving.
Awards were given to groups who had “Outstanding Posters” and “Greatest Impact.”
Team RPTM 433 Action Sports Park Focus Group Research and EGEE 437 Ferguson Township CCSE tied for 3rd place Outstanding Poster. Team Bellefonte Borough Compost Site won 2nd and Team Cree Manor Stormwater Design; BE 460/466 placed 1st.
“Greatest Impact” was awarded to teams PLANT 461 Bellefonte High School Orchard, RPTM 433 Action Sports Park Youth Focus Group, and RPTM 433 Online Survey.