Steinmetz 2016


To celebrate student creativity and research achievement, and to honor Charles Proteus Steinmetz, The Charles Proteus Steinmetz Symposium was held on campus this past Friday.

An electrical engineer, inventor and scholar, Charles P. Steinmetz was born Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland), and studied in Breslau, Zurich and Berlin, receiving his Ph.D. in 1888.

True to his philosophy of education, he pursued a broad course of studies, including astronomy, biology, chemistry, electricity, physics and political economy.

Steinmetz was forced to flee Germany in 1888 after writing a paper critical of the German government. He settled in New York City, making his first major contribution to electrical engineering by developing the law of hysteresis, which enabled engineers to design better electric motors for use in industry. He became employed by the General Electric Company in 1892 and relocated to Schenectady.

Steinmetz also fostered the development of alternating current (AC), which made possible the expansion of the electric power industry in the United States, formulating mathematical theories for engineers.

Steinmetz was chief consulting engineer for GE when, in 1902, he became professor of Electrical Engineering at Union. Three years later, he took charge of Union’s new electrical engineering program. He was for two generations the most recognized name in the realm of electricity after Thomas Edison himself. After World War I, Steinmetz ceased lecturing at Union, but he remained an active friend of Union for the rest of his life. Steinmetz wrote that “Teaching is the most important profession, because upon teachers depends the future of our nation, and, in fact, all civilization.”

The event exhibited faculty-mentored undergraduate research from various disciplines. Students worked closely with their professors in every academic department – in labs, studios and the field – to delve into topics that intrigued and challenged them intellectually and creatively.

Sharing his thoughts on the occasion, President Stephen C. Ainlay said, “I’ve been at Steinmetz events all morning and have been absolutely inspired and moved by the talent, seriousness of purpose and love of academic pursuit that’s been on display.

No wonder this is one of my favorite days of the year. I congratulate all student presenters, exhibitors and performers and I thank their faculty mentors as well as all those who came out to support our students.”

Arsal Habib ’16, an electrical engineer, built a micromouse robot that was programmed to navigate through any maze and find the shortest path to the middle.

The robot, named the “Dutchbot Micromouse”, used sensors to detect walls and maze-solving algorithms and mapping techniques to track its own position and find the center of the maze.

Ly Nguyen ’17, researched a recently developed algorithm called the “Multi-Channel Transfer Function” which can be used to provide an accurate estimate of a power system’s inability and can be useful to power operators.

The research tested the algorithm’s estimation accuracy in the presence of measurement noise. The study was divided into two cases by increasing either the signal-to-noise ratio or the model order.

It was found, after performing root mean square error analysis that the latter function exhibited greater estimation accuracy.

Lakhena Leang ’18, under Professor Kristin M. Fox, Associate Professor of Chemistry, focused her research on apoptosis – a systematic, highly controlled and programmed death of a cell.

The Union College Micro Aero Team also presented their recent success at an undergraduate Aero Design Series competition run by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Last year, the team assembled a plane from an RC kit and learned the basics of aircraft design.

Consequently this year they designed their own RC plane and developed and prototyped each aspect of the plane through several iterations. They came in tenth in presentation and seventh in flight score amongst 20 national and international teams.

Lucas Audi ’16 developed an attachable longboard kit that was capable of transforming generic longboards into motorized modes of transport.

Named “E-cruise”, the attachable kit, if attached to the motor mount onto the threaded portion of the truck axle, allows it to be compatible with a wide range of longboards.

Yuki Shimano ’17, recipient of the 2016 Arnold Bittleman Memorial Prize, also presented her drawings and artwork.

As part of their research in Millennial Challenge Program, Elizabeth Altman ’19, Elizabeth Ricci ’19 and Laura Marlin ’19, interviewed students on campus about their interests in the arts and humanities and how they felt the arts and humanities played a role in their daily lives. The research is still underway and is focused on emphasizing the importance of arts and humanities in a way that cannot be overlooked.

As part of her Scholars Sophomore Project, Rachel Clarey ’18 focused her research on the Sino-American educational exchange and took into account the perceptions and experiences of several Chinese students studying at the College. She also emphasized her research on how this issue is partially attributed to China’s booming economy.

Towards the end of the day the Lothridge Festival of Dance was held in the Nott Memorial, directed by Miryam Moutillet, Senior Artist-in-Residence. Ranging from Jazz to Hip-Hop, more than seventy dancers took the stage in a powerful high-energy performance.

The show included highlights from students and faculty choreographies along with performances by the Dance Team, U-Break, Terra Dance Company, Hip-Hop Club, Bhangra Union and Ballroom.

The Steinmetz Symposium preceded Prize Day, which was held on Saturday in Memorial Chapel and 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 (Kaitlyn Suarez ’16) and the Frank Bailey (1885) Prize, to the senior who has rendered the greatest service to the College in any field (Ilan Levine ’16).

Undergraduate research had its origin in the first third of the 20th century here at Union and has taken hold in all disciplines since then, making this endeavor the lynchpin of the Union education.

Samantha Kruzshak ‘19 was fascinated by all the presentattions and performances. She said, “Before coming to Union, I was curious to find out what Steinmetz Symposium was all about. After attending the event, I have realized the day is the epitome of academic achievement and instills creativity and innovation within the student body.”

The event was attended by a number of students, faculty and staff members. Akshay Kashyap ‘18, an attendee at the event said, “Steinmetz was an intelectually enriching experience that provided a window into the exciting projects and original research students at Union are working on.”


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