Students still present at Steinmetz after 25 years


This Friday, May 8, marks Union’s 25th annual Charles Proteus Steinmetz Symposium. The symposium will, as always, include sessions throughout the day via oral presentations, posters, performances and art exhibits. Steinmetz Day emphasizes Union’s dedication to student creative, scholarly and research achievement. As every year, classes will be canceled in order to allow students and faculty members to attend sessions throughout the day.

The Steinmetz Symposium is named after one of Union’s most renowned faculty members, Charles Proteus Steinmetz (1865-1923), who taught engineering and applied physics at the college. He was also a leading engineer for General Electric and was widely regarded as America’s leading engineer at the time.

On Friday, students will give presentations on topics as diverse and unique as “Jane Austen’s Radical Women,” “Andalusian Phsyics,” “Patriotism and Propaganda in Wartime” and the “Design and Analysis of an Indoor Air Biofiltration System.”

At Union, undergraduate research originated in the beginning of the 20th century, when Professor of Chemistry Charles Hurd involved his students in his personal colloid chemistry investigations. Since this point, undergraduate research at Union has taken hold in various disciplines within the College, becoming one of its major strong points.

By the mid-1960s several majors at Union had established a senior research thesis requirement, and in 1978 the College began to fund faculty-mentored student research amidst all disciplines.

This was followed by a creation of funded summer research opportunities in 1986.

And, in the fall of 1990, Tom Werner, Professor of Chemistry and Dave Peak, Professor of Physics met with newly hired Union President, Roger Hull. Both of these professors were in charge of overseeing Union’s participation with NCUR, the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (which the College had hosted earlier that year). The three men together aimed to create Union’s own independent version of NCUR.

Following this, in the spring of 1991, the first Steinmetz Symposium was born, featuring presentations from 130 students. It was specifically held on Admitted Students Day to display the type of “hands-on, faculty-mentored undergraduate research that is a staple of the Union experience.”

The number of students involved in the Symposium has greatly enlarged, reaching beyond 500, with an inclusion of more than 280 oral presentations and over 70 poster presentations. Additionally, 200 students are involved in some form of dance presentation.

According to Becky Cortez, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of Undergraduate Research at Union, “for 25 years, students, faculty, staff and family members have looked forward to the symposium. And, it has only grown in popularity, as evidenced by the incredible level of participation in this year’s presentation, exhibits and performances.”

At 4PM in the Nott Memorial on Friday, more than 70 students will take part in performance as part of the Lothridge Festival of Dance. Students will enact in a variety of different styles, including ballet, ballroom, contemporary lyrical, hip-hop, jazz and tap.

The Steinmetz Symposium is part of Recognition Weekend at Union, including Prize Day, where students are honored for achievement in academics, research, service and governance.

Two of the top awards given are the Josephine Daggett Prize and the Frank Bailey Prize. The Josephine Daggett Prize is awarded to a senior for conduct and character. The Frank Bailey Prize is awarded to a senior who has rendered the greatest service to the College in any field.

For a complete schedule of the Symposium, visit the Steinmetz website.


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