Annual Walk/5K Honoring Virginia Tech Victims, Honors Sandy Hook Victims

It’s a cruel coincidence that the annual Jeremy Herbstritt Memorial 5K Walk/Run took place the day after the double explosions at the Boston Marathon.
Though race organizers had decided that proceeds from this year’s event would benefit victims’ families from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, many people’s thoughts were with a different New England community.
” The mood was certainly more somber than in previous years.  A lot of runners were found hugging friends and crying, reflecting on the events of the Marathon,” explained one of the organizers of the event, Jen Herbstritt.
Normally the event includes a t-shirt for the participants but in order to maximize the donations they were giving to the families impacted by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, the organizers of the event decided to go “No shirt for Sandy Hook.” There was no shirt created for this year’s walk as there had been created previously.
Attendance for the event was greater than the organizers had seen in previous years, explained event organizer, Jennifer Herbstritt. She equated the increase in turnout to the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Many people who had attended or participated in the marathon on Monday were at Tuesday’s event sharing their stories and experiences.
The timing and alignment of the events is all too eerie for Herbstritt. “Innocent people are killed and injured running and watching a running event, the same event I was running when Jeremy was killed,” says Herbstritt.
Each year, a candle light vigil is held at the conclusion of the race with the goal of remembering victims of violence, to pause and reflect on how we can make this world a more peaceful place filled with compassion, understanding and empathy. It is also a chance to experience a touch of solidarity in the community when the events of the world are so sad and disturbing.
This year, the vigil focused not only on the memory of Jeremy, but also the victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy and all people affected by the events at Monday’s Boston Marathon.
“As Jeremy’s family, we know all too well how painful the months and years following such an unspeakable event can be. Just the smallest gestures and kind deeds helped us to find the courage to continue living life after Jeremy died,” explains Herbstritt.
The annual run was established following the Virginia Tech shootings on April 16, 2007. The run/walk is named for Jeremy Herbstritt, a 1998 Bellefonte Area High School graduate who was one of the victims from the Virginia Tech shootings. Herbstritt earned his undergraduate degree from Penn State in civil engineering, biochemistry and molecular biology. He went to Virginia Tech for civil engineering.
The fund, originally started by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering along with the Nittany Valley Running Club, was meant to honor Herbstritt while also raising money for a community track facility in his memory.
“My family and I would just like to thank the CE department for sponsoring Jeremy’s Race once again.  It means a ton to us that six years later you all still remember Jeremy and help us to keep his spirit alive,” says Herbstritt.
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Blue-nited We Stand

You are invited to participate in Blue-nited We Stand!
Please help the One Heart Campaign and Engineering Ambassadors spread awareness of child abuse by wearing navy blue on Friday, April 12th!
 The Engineering Ambassadors are supporting their cause to raise awareness for child abuse by promoting theBlue-nited We Stand event in the College of Engineering.  By participating in this event and wearing blue on Friday April 12th, the College of Engineering, the Smeal College of Business and companies and schools across the state to raise awareness for child abuse.
Each participant is encouraged to visit the Vision of Hope website and give a $5 donation to the fund. Http://
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Networking: Green vehicle sustainability lives at Penn State

The world is one expansive network. Reminders of this occur all the time.

Last month, Elliott Weinstein was at Penn State for a meeting of Penn State Hillel, of which he’s currently the board chair. Weinstein had just purchased a Tesla S, one of the highest powered and lowest consuming vehicles available. Within a short time of being at University Park, a couple of engineering students spotted the car on College Avenue, engaged its owner in conversation and told him about upcoming sustainability events at Penn State.

As a driver who was experiencing “sustainability” up close and personal on a daily basis, Weinstein surfed and discovered the Sustainability Institute at Penn State, as well as, David Riley, assistant professor of architectural engineering, and Joel Anstrom. Anstrom is director of the Larson Institute’s Hybrid and Hydrogen Vehicle Research Laboratory at Penn State and coordinator of the 21st Century Automotive Challenge, an annual green-vehicles competition that occurs in May at University Park.

Three students at Tesla dashboard, from left to right: Harshad Kunte, Jim Kreibick, Benjamin Sattler

Three students at Tesla dashboard, from left to right: Harshad Kunte, Jim Kreibick, Benjamin Sattler

So this explains why one recent afternoon, Anstrom, three engineering students and a staff member with a camera were – with the owner’s full permission – joyriding in the Tesla while Weinstein was in a meeting. The sleek machine is practically noiseless already, so when it passes other vehicles like they’re standing still and without a sound, it’s enough to make even the most composed engineering student giggle with glee.

“Wow!” said the students. Wow indeed. It’s impressive, what applied engineering can accomplish.

The students are currently volunteering time to work on the Larson Institute’s EV-1, a pioneer machine in the green vehicle movement. They are James Kreibick (electrical engineering), Harshad Kunte (masters student, mechanical engineering), and Benjamin Sattler (mechanical engineering and engineering science).

Weinstein received his B.S. in marketing in 1973 and M.S. in accounting in 1974 from Penn State. He is president of Weinstein Realty Advisors, based in York, Pa.

“We’ve gotta improve the world,” said Weinstein of the Tesla’s advanced technology that produces virtually no pollution and doesn’t send petrodollars abroad.

Foursome with Tesla, front view, from left to right: Jim Kreibick, Harshad Kunte, Dr. Joel Anstrom, Benjamin Sattler

Foursome with Tesla, front view, from left to right: Jim Kreibick, Harshad Kunte, Dr. Joel Anstrom,
Benjamin Sattler

The 21st Century Automotive Challenge will draw together a range of vehicle types and advanced technologies, with a public display event on May 19 at the MorningStar Solar Home, on Penn State’s University Park campus.

For more information about the automotive challenge, visit

To learn about student education opportunities at the Larson Institute, visit For
information about student education opportunities at the Sustainability Institute, visit

CREDIT: Mike Casper

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Start-up Week

Next week, March 18-23, a week-long celebration will showcase talented entrepreneurs from around the country, many of which are Penn State alumni and some are engineering alumni. The College of Information Sciences and Technology is hosting the event along with the College of Engineering, Smeal College of Business and the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Erik Davidson is a 2008 graduate of the Penn State College of Engineering with a B.S. in electrical engineering and a 2010 graduate with an M.S. in electrical engineering. In June 2008, Davidson used his engineering skills to co-found Buzby Networks, delivering hardware and software to accurately track people’s locations within a building using wireless technology. Davidson will present on Tuesday, March 19 from 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. in 112 Walker Building.

Ethan Wendle is the founder and CEO of DiamondBack Automotive Accessories, Inc. DiamondBack manufactures and markets a patented line of Utility Tonneau Covers for pickup trucks. In 2003, Ethan took a break from his studies in Penn State’s College of Engineering to start the company and has spent more than a decade learning how to bring a company to sustainability and growth.

Paul Silvis founded Restek in 1985 to manufacture innovative, high-quality chromatography products. The company’s sales exceed $60 million and continue to outpace competitors by consistently maintaining double-digit growth and profits. Silvis will present on Wednesday, March 20 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. in the Business Building Atrium.

Matt Brezina is co-founder and CEO of Sincerely, a mobile gifting startup whose mission is to help the world be more thoughtful. Postagram, Sincerely’s first product, enables users to send real postcards made from photos taken with Instagram. Brezina also co-founded Xobni, an email software company that makes your inbox and address book smarter. Brezina is also an active angel investor, having invested in companies such as Dropbox, Voxer, Edison Jr., Rescale, 15Five, Orchestra, and more. He graduated from Penn State in 2003 with a B.S. in electrical engineering. Brezina will present on Friday, March 22 from 12:20 p.m. – 1:10 p.m. in room 113 IST Building.

Rod Murchison, vice president product management at Tripwire, Inc., is a pioneer in the field of data security, cyber analytics, networking, and identity and fraud protection, and has more than 20 years of experience in product development and go-to-market strategies for innovative IT security and networking solutions.Before joining Tripwire, Murchison was the senior vice president of engineering and product management for Narus, a wholly-owned subsidiary for The Boeing Company.  At Narus, Murchison drove solutions worldwide geared towards a unified approach to real-time, streaming, and deep analytic applications for network-oriented big data. Murhcison is a 1991 graduate of the College of Engineering at Penn State. He will present on Monday, March 18 from 9:05 a.m. to 9:55 a.m. in room 202 IST Building.

Bob Morgan is co-founder and chief executive officer of MorganFranklin. Morgan’s primary focus is developing strategies to grow and improve the company while ensuring that the MorganFranklin team is aligned with the vision of surpassing clients’ expectations and achieving workplace excellence. Morgan is a graduate of the College of Engineering at Penn State with a B.S. in electrical engineering. He will present on Wednesday, March 20 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. in the Business Building Atrium.

Rajiv Eranki was previously head of server engineering at Dropbox, a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Eranki will present on Friday, March 22 from 11:15 a.m. – 12:05 p.m. in room 202 IST Building.

Credit to the College of IST:

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ASME UP Wins Fifth Straight Regional Title

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), University Park chapter, won the Penn State Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest for the fifth year in a row on Saturday afternoon at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel.

In addition to winning a trophy and cash prize, ASME University Park earned the chance to represent Penn State at the national competition on March 30 in Columbus, Ohio.

Teams representing four other Penn State student organizations also competed in the contest: ASME, Harrisburg chapter; the Chinese Undergraduate Student Association (CUSA); the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), and the Engineering Leadership Society (ELS).

All teams were challenged to use innovative ideas, unconventional problem-solving skills and a little humor to design and build a machine that hammered a nail in 20 or more steps.

ASME UP Wins 5th straight regional title

ASME UP Wins 5th straight regional title

All teams were challenged to use innovative ideas, unconventional problem-solving skills and a little humor to design and build a machine that hammered a nail in 20 or more steps.

ASME Harrisburg placed second in the overall contest, followed by ELS in third place. The People’s Choice Award went to ASME Harrisburg’s machine, which featured favorite toys from childhood including old video gaming systems, a bowling ball and guitars.

Teams were judged on two runs of their machine and had the option of voiding one of their first two runs in favor of a third, provided the void was called before the task was completed.

All five teams used the time between rounds to make adjustments or repairs to their machines.

ASME Harrisburg wins the People's Choice Award

ASME Harrisburg wins the People’s Choice Award

            Between the rounds, four Engineering Ambassadors, an engineering student organization focused on community outreach, gave presentations about simple machines and the magic of engineering while the competitors reset their machines for the next round. Kids were invited up to the stage to view one of the presentations, which combined a speaker and Non-Newtonian Fluid, also known as Oobleck.

Engineering Ambassadors entertain the audience during intermissions.

Engineering Ambassadors entertain the audience during intermissions.


All five teams used the intermissions to make adjustments or repairs to their machines.

IEEE ran into slight difficulties during their first run. “It could’ve gone better, everything was working before we left,” said Michael Rybar, an electrical engineering senior. “We were glad the audience was rooting for us despite everything and were really into it.”

Throughout the months leading up to the event, teams put countless amounts of hours into building their machines.

CUSA team captain, Xiaomo Zhang, a junior in aerospace engineering, says that him and his team dedicated more than 100 hours to the entire process. “This is a really meaningful activity and it is good to interact with the community, gain leadership experience and create machine designs,” he explained.

ELS team captain, Yolainne Moran, who agreed, adding that she really enjoyed the entire process of the contest and bringing in new ideas from the freshman members of the organization. ELS featured a machine with the “Luck of the Irish” theme.

A young audience member gets the chance to see the ELS machine up close

A young audience member gets the chance to see the ELS machine up close

ASME University Park came up with their idea for their machine after throwing around several ideas between team members said team captain Alec Tanida, a senior in mechanical engineering. “We knew that an Avengers theme would be good because it is relevant and would get the attention of kids with Captain America and the Hulk,” he recalled.

­­­­­­Tanida competed in the 2011 and 2012 national competitions as a member of the 2011 and 2012 ASME University Park teams and said that it really helped him and some of his teammates prepare for the regional competition and calm under pressure.

ELS, third place, 2013 Penn State Rube Goldberg Regional Contest

ELS, third place, 2013 Penn State Rube Goldberg Regional Contest

The entire team will head to the national Rube Goldberg Machine Contest in Columbus, OH at the end of March. ASME placed second and third at the 2011 and 2012 national competition, respectively.

ASME Harrisburg Second place, 2013 Penn State Rube Goldberg Regional Contest

ASME Harrisburg Second place, 2013 Penn State Rube Goldberg Regional Contest

The contest is named after Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, Reuben Lucius Goldberg, who drew cartoons that combined simple machine parts and household items to create contraptions that accomplished simple tasks in a laughable number of excess steps. Although he never built any of his machines, Goldberg’s creative thought process and innovation have become an inspiration to engineers and scientists all over the world.

More information about the event is available at:


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Perez Memorial Awards Due Friday

The deadline to nominate faculty members for the Lawrence J. Perez Memorial Student Advocate Award is Friday, March 1.

The award recognizes a College of Engineering faculty member who contributes to the welfare of students and enriches the College by his or her willingness to devote significant time and effort to assist students academically and/or personally as they pursue their engineering degrees.

Award recipients get $3,000 and a plaque.

Individual students, the Engineering Student Council, student engineering honor societies or student engineering professional societies may make nominations for this award through an essay between 500 and 1,500 words.

All full-time faculty in the College may receive this award no more than once every four years. Previous recipients can be found on this website:

Submissions can be delivered to Stefanie Tomlinson in 101 Hammond Building or emailed to:

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