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PAugust 29, 2017

PSU Orchard Hall Provides Immediate Impact on Education

Special Guest Blog by Laura Guertin, PhD

Professor of Earth Science, Penn State Brandywine

This fall semester is certainly one for the history books at Penn State Brandywine. You may think I’m referring to the opening of two new buildings on campus, which certainly provide the opportunity for education and conversation around what it means to be LEED certified, the role of our many new rain gardens and Penn State’s mission of sustainability – no, I’m actually referring to Monday’s solar eclipse.

You see, NASA put out a call for people to gather scientific data on the changes taking place at the surface of our planet during the eclipse, everything from air and surface temperature to relative and absolute humidity. Measurements were requested the day before and after the eclipse, as well as the day of. The day before the eclipse was a Sunday, a day where the campus is typically a ghost town with no students in sight. I assumed I would be here all alone setting things up and collecting the data. I sent an email out to my advisees to see if anyone would be interested in overseeing this three-day monitoring project, honestly not expecting a reply from anyone.

But one of my energy engineering advisees responded and said he was interested incollecting and analyzing the solar eclipse data. Gabe, as one of the first residential students living right here in the new Orchard Hall, was on campus to kick off his very first undergraduate research project as a first-semester freshman – on a weekend, the day before the semester even started.

I share this story to showcase the opportunities and doors that are now opening because of our residential facility. Teaching and learning is no longer isolated to Monday through Friday, during business hours. My faculty colleagues and I are now able to teach and engage in research with students at all hours, with the new buildings providing physical spaces and kicking off a transition of the academic campus culture to expand to evenings and weekends. I cannot wait to see how the scholarship of our students and faculty will be enhanced now and the next 50 years into the future.





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