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Amber DiDominic, Brittany Mihalko and Jessica Smell

The Scholastic Excellence Award, sponsored by the Penn State Fayette Advisory Board, is the highest academic award on campus. The Scholastic Excellence Award is based not only on high grades, but also on a rigorous competition of written and oral academic research presentations. The 2010 finalists were Amber DiDominic, Brittany Mihalko and Jessica Smell. Smell was the award recipient.

It’s Pretty Easy Going Green

by Brittany Mihalko

Abstract: In 2007, Pennsylvania State University allocated over one million dollars to begin a Guaranteed Energy Savings Program at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus.  The program promised to save the university over $100,000 per year. Using the original savings calculations from the proposals and correcting for when the weather deviated from the average, I would like to focus my research topic on the economic analysis of the investment.  I will be using savings calculations that I have learned during my course study here at Penn State Fayette to evaluate the actual annual savings experienced since the incorporation of the program.  With the completion of this project, I hope to: estimate when the university will receive the full payment back in positive returns, propose possible ideas to further “green” the campus, and investigate ways that students can help to continue with the energy savings on campus and throughout their college life.  This topic holds a special importance to me because I am very active on campus, and at home, in the “green” movement.  I founded the Grow, Recycle, Energize, and Educate for a better eNvironment (G.R.E.E.N.) Club to help inspire students, faculty, and staff to begin “greening” their surroundings on campus. Throughout the past year, we have worked as a club to spread awareness on campus through various events and activities.

Each goal will require a different research method to obtain the correct information.  In order to find the payback time frame, I will be using the original estimated costs of the installed equipment, graphical data available on the Internet, and other university sources.  For new ideas to “green” the campus, I will review articles about other facilities that are beginning to go “green” and discuss with my professors to decide which options could realistically be implemented at the Fayette campus.  Lastly, I will do research on websites about other college students going “green” at school to explore ideas for Fayette’s student population.  I hope that in completing this research and presenting it to others, they will become more aware of how they can begin going “green” in everyday life.

Brittany's research paper.


Literature as Medicine for the Soul:
Processing Traumatic Experiences through Writing

by Jessica M. Smell

Abstract: Many individuals process traumatic experiences through writing. Some writing is done on a personal scale through journaling, while other writing is done clinically through Journal Therapy, and some authors use their personal trauma to publish works of literature that reach out of the page and into the lives of readers. While this type of writing is not clinical in nature, it still allows the writer to process traumatic experiences through writing by using a similar approach to that used in Journal Therapy. The writer is able to release emotions through the writing process while also being able to self-analyze him or herself and the situation by establishing a connection with the reader as an audience. Through the writing, the writer is able to reach a type of healing or understanding that allows the writer to move beyond the trauma. The reader also benefits from this experience because the reader is given the opportunity to view the tragedy from the writer’s personal perspective.

Examples of this interaction are explored in the works of Elie Wiesel, a Jewish man who survived the holocaust, and Tim O’Brien, an American man who served in the Vietnam War in his adolescent years. Wiesel’s Night and O’Brien’s The Things They Carried are analyzed along with personal interviews discussing both the traumatic situations these men endured and their personal reasons for turning their traumas into works of literature. The goal of this research is to explore the functionality of literature as a healing interaction between the writer and the reader as traumatic situations are processed.

Jessica's research paper.


Power to the Wind

by Amber DiDominic

Abstract: The growing scarcity of nonrenewable resources coupled with rising concern of the environmental impacts of fossil fuels is leading to a search for alternative energy sources. Wind travels across most of the world, so it is a promising source for electrical power. The general process of creating electricity with the wind’s kinetic energy will be examined, with emphasis on the workings of a wind turbine, advantages and disadvantages of wind power, and locations of wind farms. Books written by authors who are experts in the fields of ecology, engineering, and physics are used to support and enhance personal knowledge of the subject matter. In addition, authors both in favor and against the implementation of wind turbines are cited in order to form a non-biased work. Facts and statistics clarify wind’s ability to power the country. The current and accurate figures from the Department of Energy website show the amount of wind power in use compared to traditional nonrenewable resources. When all of the information is thoroughly examined, the paper will conclude by explaining the future outlook of electricity generated by the wind. The goal is to assess the reality of wind power gaining a footing in the electricity market. Will the environmental impacts of fossil fuels, along with growing scarcity, be enough to make wind energy an economic resource to power the future?

Amber's research paper.