The Turner Prize: What Does Academic Collaboration Mean?

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford

That powerful quote was used by Karen Sweeney (’80 AE) to close out the 2014 Henry C. Turner Prize for Innovation in Construction event on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

Sweeney, Senior Vice President: Diversity, Inclusion and Community at Turner Construction, served as moderator of the panel discussion after the Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering was recognized for bringing together students, educators, researchers, government entities, and industry to build efficiencies in the building industry and encourage energy-efficient building solutions.

The award committee specifically cited architectural engineering’s GridSTAR Center efforts at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia as one of the reasons for honoring Penn State with this year’s prize.

“We were missing a real practical practice in engineering so the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation went to Penn State to collaborate on the Navy Yard development,” explained John Grady, Turner Prize panelist and president, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation. “Penn State warmed to the challenge quickly, especially the College of Engineering and especially the Department of Architectural Engineering. They knew how to be a difference maker. They were entrepreneurial and recognized that coming into Philadelphia meant bringing something new to the relationship.”

Panelist Ted Lynch (’92 AE, ’96 PhD), president, Southland Industries, agreed that Penn State is willing to adapt to the needs of its partners. “Penn State architectural engineering is responsive to the needs of the design/build industry,” he said.

One area of opportunity, Lynch said, is for industry and higher education to collaborate in the research areas that would help address the many issues and challenges facing the industry.

“The traditional university system isn’t set up to encourage collaboration, or at least not without too much bureaucracy,” Grady said.

“We have the freedom to establish programs like GridSTAR and engage students who are interested in these programs,” said Chimay Anumba, department head, Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering.

Another panelist and former under-secretary at the United States Department of Education, Martha Kanter, said that other universities should look at Penn State architectural engineering’s track record of preparing students for success and scale it to help solve the nationwide issue of students being underprepared for the work force.

“The nation needs graduates with imagination; students with cross- and multi-disciplinary approaches to problem solving,” Grady said. “Universities have the opportunity to bring all this together in order to train future leaders.”


Turner 1

The presentation of the Turner Prize (l. to r.): Chase Rynd, executive director, National Building Museum; Chimay Anumba, department head, Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering; David Riley, professor of architectural engineering and director of the GridSTAR Center; Anthony Atchley, senior associate dean, Penn State College of Engineering; Peter J. Davoren, president and chief executive officer, Turner Construction.

Turner 2

Karen Sweeney, left, moderates a conversation on innovation, education, and collaboration as driving forces in economic development and a 21st-century workforce. Panelists (L-R): Chimay Anumba, John Grady, Martha Kanter, and Ted Lynch.



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Penn State hosts Energy & Sustainability Day at The Navy Yard

by Colleen Lynch, PR ’14
Intern, GridSTAR

On Wednesday March 19, Penn State held Energy and Sustainability Day at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia, as part of the Schreyer Honors College Shaping the Future Summit. Over fifty students and faculty members from a variety of educational backgrounds were welcomed from Penn State’s University Park, Abington and Berks campuses.

The event was hosted by Penn State’s Grid Smart Training and Application Resource (GridSTAR) Center, an innovative learning and research environment focused on energy efficiency, renewable energy and smart grid technologies.  The GridSTAR Center is coordinated by Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering and is based on The Navy Yard campus in Philadelphia.

David Riley, professor of architectural engineering at Penn State and the Principal Investigator of the GridSTAR Center said, “Penn State is fortunate to be a part of the redevelopment of The Navy Yard, as it will offer our students excellent opportunities for learning and research about sustainability.”

The day began with an introduction from Navy Yard leaders, including the director of the Consortium for Building Energy Innovation (formerly known as the EEB Hub), Martha Krebs; Senior Vice President of Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), Will Agate; and Principal at Kieran Timberlake, David Riz; who is the leading designer of Penn State’s new facilities at The Navy Yard. Students were then taken on a bus tour of The Navy Yard, led by Will Agate, with a variety of stops including GlaxoSmithKline headquarters, the Courtyard Marriot and Penn State’s new facilities, The Center for Building Energy Science and Engineering and The Center for Building Energy Education and Innovation. The tour concluded at the Urban Outfitters headquarters where students enjoyed lunch at the Shop 543 food court.

After lunch, participants visited the GridSTAR Center for demonstrations of cutting edge technologies in the Smart Grid Demonstration Residence, including energy storage systems, solar modules, sustainable construction methods and electric vehicle charging stations. Students also had the opportunity to learn from our industry partners at Solar Grid Storage about what it is like to work for a start-up in the energy sector. The demonstrations and workshops within the GridSTAR Center were most popular among participants. A student from Penn State Berks said, “All of my classes are based on micro grids, solar power and electricity, so being able to see it in action brings life to it. It’s new and exciting.”

Though some were unaware of Penn State’s presence at The Navy Yard, many were impressed with the progress that has been made. After their visit, students and faculty from a variety of academic backgrounds recognized the growing importance of interdisciplinary sustainability and left feeling energized about the potential of Penn State’s initiatives in Philadelphia.

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Area middle school girls get first-hand look at engineering

Girls from two area middle schools teamed with Penn State engineering students to program robotic dance routines as part of their field trip to campus. One project had a Blue Band theme with a robotic drum major. (Photo credit: Curtis Chan)

Girls from two area middle schools teamed with Penn State engineering students to program robotic dance routines as part of their field trip to campus. One project had a Blue Band theme with a robotic drum major. (Photo credit: Curtis Chan)

Two dozen girls from two area middle schools got some first-hand exposure to engineering at the “Engineer Your Future” field trip event today (Nov. 21) on campus.

The girls, from Philipsburg-Osceola Junior High School and Park Forest Middle School, spent the day at the College of Engineering.

The event, hosted by the Women in Engineering Program (WEP), provides the girls with hands-on engineering activities and the opportunity to work with current Penn State engineering students.

The field trip included collaborating with first-year students from ME 102 LEGO Robotics to program robots with a choreographed dance routine, a tour of the Department of Architectural Engineering’s Immersive Construction Laboratory, a pizza lunch with engineering students, a presentation by the Engineering Ambassadors and an amusement park design project.

Cheryl Knobloch, WEP director and coordinator of the program, said the field trips is meant to encourage 7th and 8th grade girls to consider pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

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Breaking down the U.S. News rankings

Earlier this week, U.S. News & World Report released its “2014 Best Colleges Rankings,” where Penn State was ranked No. 8 among all public national universities and the College of Engineering was ranked No. 19 among undergraduate engineering programs.

U.S. News ranked the following undergraduate programs:

  • Aerospace Engineering: 12th
  • Chemical Engineering: 17th
  • Civil Engineering: 14th
  • Engineering Science and Mechanics: 10th
  • Industrial Engineering: 6th
  • Materials: 10th
  • Mechanical Engineering: 16th

The University’s undergraduate programs in biological engineering, bioengineering, computer engineering and electrical engineering were not ranked.

According to U.S. News, the undergraduate results are based solely on the peer judgments of deans and senior faculty who rated each program using a scale of 1 to 5 in a mail survey.

U.S. News does not include the disciplines of architectural engineering, computer science and nuclear engineering as part of its survey.

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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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