Middle school girls say, “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto” after Penn State visit

Robot Dance Off

Middle school girls helped to program “dance moves” for robots designed and built by Penn State engineering students. Music from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” accompanied this particular robot’s moves.

A Godzilla-inspired robot and a lovesick mechanical mouse were among the highlights for two dozen middle school girls visiting Penn State’s College of Engineering on Thursday.

The trip, part of the Women in Engineering Program Outreach Workshop, gave the students a glimpse into what it’s like to be an engineer. The annual event is designed to encourage young girls to consider career opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Gozilla robot gets a helping hand from a student as she steers her creation to knock down a series of buildings during its dance.

Seventh-graders from Philisburg-Osceola Junior High School, eighth-graders from the Grier School and eighth-graders from Park Forest Middle School spent an entire day meeting Penn State engineering students, touring laboratories and working on hands-on projects.

The middle schoolers kicked off the day by teaming with students in the first-year robotics seminar ME 102. Working with undergraduate students, the middle school girls helped to program robots built by the engineers for a robotic “dance off.”

Constructed of Lego Mindstorms NXT robotics kits, the machines’ movements were choreographed with music and in some cases customized to look like a character, such as Godzilla, a mouse or a fish.

During their visit, the students toured the architectural engineering department’s Immersive Construction Laboratory, enjoyed a presentation by the Engineering Ambassadors, took in a pizza lunch with engineering students and designed their own amusement park ride.

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Meet: John Mazzochette


As promised, we are going to feature students who are active in the Penn State community beyond their education, making the world around them a better place. Our first post in this series profiles one of the three THON Overalls who are engineering students. Let’s begin with the THON Overall Hospitality Chairperson, John Mazzochette.

Mazzochette is a fifth-year senior from Cherry Hill, N.J., majoring in civil engineering. When deciding on what he wanted to study once he got to Penn State, Mazzochette chose civil engineering because of his fascination with buildings and structures that make up urban areas.

“I always knew I wanted to be a civil engineer. When I was younger, my favorite activity was playing with Legos and Kinects. I would build towers as high as a possibly could and showcase them to my family. I was also pretty decent at math and science so engineering seemed like a good fit,” says Mazzochette. He chose Penn State after applying on a whim from the suggestions of friends. After being accepted, Mazzochette made the final decision of Penn State because of their prestigious engineering program.

Mazzochette got involved with THON his sophomore year as a Hospitality Committee Member, was a Special Events Committee Member his junior year, a Hospitality Captain his senior year and is now the Overall Hospitality Chairperson. With a challenging work load and all of the responsibilities that come with his duties in THON, some may wonder how it is all possible. He has also been involved with the American Society of Civil Engineers, Engineers Without Borders, Penn State Snowboarding Club as well as intramural basketball and soccer.

As the Hospitality Overall, Mazzochette works with donors to secure all food and beverage donations at all THON events including THON weekend. He also leads 20 hospitality captains and 220 committee members to assist in serving food during THON weekend and pre-THON events.

“Time management was a tool that I learned the first semester I was in University Park. My main tool with time management is my organization. I carry around my planner like is my bible. Every morning when I wake up, I like to create a task list for the day and make sure that everything is prioritized,” explains Mazzochette. He also says that using his time efficiently is extremely important to him. His family and friends are just as important to him as work and helps him to be sure that he is making time for people and all of his responsibilities.

We then asked Mazzochette if his engineering education has helped him in his roles with THON and vice versa:

“Of course! My time at Penn State has definitely been a holistic experience. Everything ties together and helps me accomplish everything that I want to. I would like to go into project management after I graduate and the lessons I have learned from THON has helped me determine how to efficiently lead a group and complete tasks. Also, the lessons from my entrepreneurship classes have taught me how to think outside the box and tackle problems creatively,” says Mazzochette.

Being involved in THON throughout his years at Penn State has left Mazzochette with countless memories to last a lifetime. His favorite memory comes from his experience in a Mini-THON near York, Pa., where he was able to spend time talking with a Four Diamonds family. The families son was three years old and undergoing treatment but was healthy enough to be playing with the older kids, having the time of his life.

“I was touched by their openness,” says Mazzochette. “At the end of our discussion he turned to me and told me that his son would not be where he is now without the support of students like myself.” The dad explained that the Four Diamonds Fund had enabled him to be there to support his son and didn’t have to work day and night to pay for the medical bills. The comment blew Mazzochette away and he realized that the efforts of Penn State students enabled this family to have an easier fight.

The Four Diamonds — courage, honesty, strength and wisdom — come from the story that Christopher Millard wrote during his fight against pediatric cancer. We asked Mazzochette which diamond is the most important for an engineer to have:

“I believe that strength is the most important quality for engineers. The work load that engineers face requires strength and dedication. Additionally, many engineers face challenging decisions and they need to have strength in the face of adversity.”

THON Weekend 2013 is 80 days away and Mazzochette is most looking forward to being able to connect with many of the Four Diamonds families on a personal level. He is also really excited about the new initiatives set out by the hospitality committee.

Following graduation, Mazzochette plans to start his career as a project engineer for a construction company and will eventually get his master’s in business.

“I would tell future students that Penn State Engineering not only offers a world quality education but also the ability to engage other students outside the classroom and easily secure positions after graduation,” says Mazzochette. “In my time at Penn State, I have gained an incredible amount of information from my studies as well as my extra-curricular activities.”



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We want your research!

The College of Engineering Graduate Student Council will host a “Call for Abstracts” event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 27 in Kunkle Lounge.

The event is designed to give students an opportunity to learn about the 2013 College of Engineering Research Symposium (CERS), scheduled for April 2 at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Michael Alley, associate professor of engineering, will discuss “Making Presentations and Delivering a Poster.”

The annual CERS allows students to present their research to science and engineering faculty, students and industry representatives. Participants will compete for research and travel grants totaling $5,000 for best poster and best paper in undergraduate and graduate categories.

More information on CERS can be found online at http://cers.engr.psu.edu.

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Alumni tailgate a success

More than 235 engineering alumni, students, faculty and staff enjoyed food and fellowship at the first-ever College of Engineering tailgate on Saturday before the Penn State-Indiana football game. (Photo credit: Paul Hazy)

With more than 235 people in attendance, the College of Engineering’s first alumni tailgate, held on Saturday in the Founder’s Lounge at the Bryce Jordan Center before the Penn State-Indiana football game, was an unqualified success.

The event was hosted by Dean David Wormley and the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society (PSEAS) with proceeds going to the PSEAS Endowed Scholarship Fund for undergraduate engineering students who demonstrate the promise of academic success in the college.

A silent auction of donated gifts and Penn State memorabilia raised an additional $3,325 for the endowed scholarship.

The Penn State Engineering Ambassadors were also on hand for the tailgate with activities for alumni and children, including face painting.

Electrical engineering alumnus Dale Hoffman chaired the tailgate committee and mechanical engineering alumna and graduate student Katie Kirsch chaired the silent auction. The tailgate committee included architectural engineering alumni Jonathan Dougherty and Karen Sweeney, chemical engineering alumnus Ken Graziani, mechanical engineering alumnus Eric Loeliger and engineering science and mechanics alumnus Mike Erdman.

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Day of Philanthropy

This Thursday, Nov. 15, Penn State will celebrate its second annual Penn State Day of Philanthropy through a range of activities and events at all university campuses. Volunteers, students and staff will honor past gifts and also seek further support from alumni and friends.

Student organizations at University Park will have displays in the HUB, the Information Sciences and Technology Building and all across campus to explain how philanthropy has benefitted their student organization and to raise awareness of the philanthropic efforts of Penn State students. In the HUB from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. there will be photo booths, giveaways, ten student organizations and a broadcast from B94.5 radio station.
Day of Philanthropy will include student and donor-centered activities at other campuses including Penn State Harrisburg and Altoona.
“On Nov. 15, we ask Penn State alumni and friends to think about how the University has influenced their lives and to make a gift to ensure those same opportunities are available for future generations,” said Rodney P. Kirsch, senior vice president for development and alumni relations.
To learn more about the event, individuals can go to the event’s website, www.NOV15.psu.edu
“It’s a special event, and we are excited to have more student organizations participating this year,” said Leslie Dalton, a senior political science major who is helping organize Penn State Day of Philanthropy campus activities.

Credit: Penn State Live

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Yuengling Brewery Tour

Come tour the Yeungling Brewery on Saturday, Dec. 1st!

How: Sign up on this GoogleDoc if you are interested in going, if you can drive and if you are interested in taking a bus.

When: The tour will be at 10 a.m. and it takes 2.5 hours to get there.

Dress: You also must wear closed-toe shoes in order to meet OSHA standars

*All ages are welcome to attend but only those participants who are 21 years of age or older can participate in the tasting.

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About Us

Since 1896, Penn State has been a leader in engineering education, research, and service to the profession and the world community. In the years ahead, we will continue our efforts to attract and develop the highest quality faculty, student body, and staff in a supportive teaching, learning, and working environment. Our goal is to create the very finest educational, research, and outreach programs. 

Undergraduate Facts:
We have more than 9,000 students across all of the university campuses and the College of Engineering ranks 2nd in bachelor’s degrees awarded and 6th in the number of degrees awarded to women. There are 12 different majors offered. More than three million dollars was donated to research for the college in 2011 and 6.5 million in scholarships.
The college’s educational vision centers on helping students prepare to become world-class engineers. Penn State engineering graduates will be aware of the world, effective in teams, solidly grounded, innovative, technically broad and effective as leaders.
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