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Vol. 7, No. 7; November 16, 2006

Around Campus

WPI Students’ Research Helps Holy Name

Aided by research conducted by four WPI undergraduates, plans to harness clean energy on Vernon Hill in Worcester took a major step forward Friday, Nov. 3, following the announcement of a $575,000 grant from the state’s Renewable Energy Trust. The grant will help with the design and construction of a 600-kilowatt wind turbine on the campus of Holy Name Central Catholic Jr. and Sr. High School.

The project is the result of a partnership between Holy Name, Congressman James P. McGovern, WPI, state and local officials, and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

Brian Foley, Tyler Forbes, Hans Jensen, and Adam Young (all Class of 2007) are mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering students. For two years, they collected data, researched the feasibility and construction of a wind turbine, and applied to federal agencies on behalf of Holy Name, work that led to the successful grant approval. Professor Alexander E. Emanuel was the project advisor.

WPI’s Masque to Present Our Town

WPI’s theatre group Masque will present Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Our Town on Nov. 16, 17, and 18. The play will be presented at 8 p.m. each day in WPI’s Little Theatre, located in the lower level of Sanford Riley Hall.

Our Town was first produced at WPI 25 years ago. Susan Vick, professor of drama/theatre, directed it then, and she will direct the upcoming performances.

Admission to Our Town is $5. Ticket reservations will be accepted by telephone through the Little Theatre Reservation Line, 508-831-6407, or via e-mail at little.theatre.reservation.line@gmail.com.

Host Families Needed for Thanksgiving

The WPI Office of International Students and Scholars has received several requests from international students who want to spend Thanksgiving with a WPI host family.

Anyone willing to share their Thanksgiving traditions with an international student, should contact Janice T. Martin, office administrative assistant, at ext. 6030, before 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 20. Hosting these students will most likely include providing their transportation.


Saillant Brings Fuel Cell Car to Campus

Roger B. Saillant, president and CEO of Plug Power Inc., in Latham, N.Y., gave a lecture Nov. 8 titled “Overview and Challenges Facing the Fuel Cell Industry: A Plug Power Perspective” as part of a colloquium sponsored by WPI’s Chemical Engineering Department.

The presentation covered the status of the fuel cell industry with an emphasis on proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. Although PEM is the technology of choice for automobiles, Plug Power has developed a strategy for its use in stationary applications, as well.

During his campus visit, Saillant offered feedback students on their academic research projects related to fuel cells. A Honda fuel cell vehicle was also demonstrated in the lower level of Higgins Labs.

HJohnson and Coach DiCarlo Nab Awards

In field hockey news, WPI’s Kelly Johnson was named NEWMAC Rookie of the Year and Head Coach Johanna DiCarlo was selected NEWMAC Coach of the Year in voting by the conference field hockey coaches. Sophomore Nicole Maglione earned first team honors, while Johnson placed on the second team.

Bianchi, “Father of Fractals” Give Lectures

The WPI calendar in mid-November was packed with lectures and presentations by nationally known figures, including feminist and activist Gloria Steinem (look for a report in the next issue).

On Nov. 2, music technology innovator and composer Frederick W. Bianchi, who has been a member of the WPI faculty since 1994, delivered the 2006 University Lecture in Alden Memorial. Bianchi spoke about expanding the “human bandwith,” and performed with his invention, the Virtual Orchestra. The University Lecture Series, sponsored by the Office of the President, is a forum for speakers of national and international importance to enhance scholarly and scientific learning and to stimulate the intellectual climate of the university and surrounding communities.

Professor Benoit Mandelbrot, member of the National Academy of Sciences and professor emeritus at Yale University, spoke to a standingroom- only audience in Olin 107 on Nov. 10 as part of the Harold J. Gay Lecture Series.

Mandelbrot is considered by many to be the “father of fractals.” Fractal geometry provides a powerful way of studying roughness, which makes it an especially useful method for finding order in the natural world, Mandelbrot said. His lecture provided a look at the history of fractals and his own contribution to this emerging field of mathematics. The program was sponsored by WPI, and hosted by the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

Brisson: German Educator of the Year

Ulrike Brisson, visiting assistant professor and German administrator at WPI, has received the German Educator of the Year Award for Massachusetts. Brisson serves as Massachusetts president of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG), an office she has held for two and a half years. She is a member of a teacher trainer network in New England, and has received several stipends from the Goethe Institut (German cultural institute) for seminars in the United States and in Germany. She has presented papers and given workshops nationally and internationally. Brisson has been teaching German at WPI since August 2006.

WPI Professors Earn Fulbright Honors

H.J. Manzari, assistant professor of Spanish in the Humanities & Arts Department, has received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Costa Rica between June and December of next year. His project, to be carried out in collaboration with the National University in Heredia, is titled “Caribbean Voices: Image, Text and Music From the Costa Rican Caribbean.” As a Fulbright Scholar, Manzari will explore the rich culture of the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, which is geographically, historically, and culturally separate from the rest of the nation, and seek to understand how it is connected to and different from the unique art, music, and literature of the rest of the Caribbean basin.

Earlier this year, Susan Vernon-Gerstenfeld, director of academic programs and planning in the IGSD and co-director of the Namibia Project Center, spent a month at the Polytechnic of Namibia with an award from the Fulbright Senior Specialist Program. She worked with the director of the Polytechnic’s Center for Teaching and Learning to draft university outcomes, help faculty set outcomes for their courses, and develop evaluation techniques to measure the achievement of those outcomes. She also worked with faculty to foster project-based learning and activities that foster critical thinking.

Getting to Know...

Donald Peterson, WPI’s resident groundskeeper, recently got himself into a sticky situation with his trusty — or, in this case, out-of-control — lawnmower near the Campus Center. But even an injury that resulted in a trip to the hospital for treatment couldn’t stop him from returning to work later in the day, to the amazement of some.

Peterson has worked at WPI since April 1961. During those 45 years, he has seen many university presidents come and go, and many students trek through campus.

“[Arthur] Bromwell was president back when I started. I’ve seen all the presidents since then,” the 73-year-old told @WPI. “And from year to year, you have different students. You never know what you’re going to get.”

Before Peterson came to the university, he worked at the former New England Plating Company, which once stood where WPI’s Gateway Park is rising. His wife’s uncle was a custodian at WPI, and his first WPI position was custodian in the Washburn Shops. He was a campus courier for 10 years, and for 33 years has been a campus gardener.

On Oct. 4, his duties as gardener took a turn for the scary. Peterson was mowing in front of the Campus Center with the 36-inch walk-behind mower, when he bumped into a small tree. Upon contact, his hearing protection went flying, causing him to jerk his arm. His arm got caught between the tree and the mower handle, but the mower didn’t stop. He chased the mower to catch it before it crashed into the patio.

Instead of seeking help, Peterson walked the running mower around Goddard, down the Salisbury Street sidewalk, up the Higgins House driveway, and parked it. He then paid a visit to Dave Messier, WPI’s environmental and occupational safety manager, who said he noticed that Peterson had a contusion below his elbow “the size of an extra large egg,” and was bleeding from a couple of lacerations.

“But he had to get his mower back to the yard!” Messier said, noting that student EMS personnel arrived to help Peterson and brought him to the hospital. “His work ethic is to be admired.”

At 2 p.m., Peterson was back at work. “That’s the way I was brought up,” explained Peterson, who, with his wife, will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary Feb. 9; they have five children and four grandchildren. “I came here to look for a job, and as long as I work here, I will come to work.”

At 2 p.m., Peterson was back at work. “That’s the way I was brought up,” explained Peterson, who, with his wife, will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary Feb. 9; they have five children and four grandchildren. “I came here to look for a job, and as long as I work here, I will come to work.”

The 3-year-old lawnmower has been fixed, Peterson reported; a faulty wire was found and repaired.

“I don’t intend to get tangled up in trees,” the Korean War Air Force veteran stressed again.

He waved off the cuts and bruises. “That’s nothing,” Peterson said with a smile. “That didn’t stop me. It only screwed up my golf swing. I love golf.”

Is there an outstanding WPI employee you feel the campus community should get to know? Send your nomination to atwpi@wpi.edu .

Publications and Presentations

Biomedical Engineering Department

Badylak, S. F., P. V. Kochupura, I. S. Cohen, S. V. Doronin, A. E. Saltman, T. W. Gilbert, D. J. Kelly, R. A. Ignotz, and G. R. Gaudette, “The Use of Extracellular Matrix as an Inductive Scaffold for the Partial Replacement of Functional Myocardium,” Cell Transplantation, pp. 15, sections 29-40, 2006.

Tselentakis, E. V., E. Woodford, J. Chandy, G. R. Gaudette, and A. E. Saltman, “Inflammation Effects on the Electrical Properties of Atrial Tissue and Inducibility of Post-Operative Atrial Fibrillation,” Journal of Surgical Research, pp. 135:68-75, 2006.

Humanities and Arts

Brattin, J. J., and Bell, D. “The New York Rock & Roll Ensemble and Jimi Hendrix," Jimpress 82, pp. 5-15, Autumn 2006

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