Areas of expertise/Research interests: Conventional and alternative energy sources and applications; pollution control methods (solid, water, air, noise and vibration); recruiting female students into STEM careers
What do you like most about Penn State Fayette? As a small campus of a big university, we have the best of both worlds. The students have contact with world-class faculty who know their names. The range of interests and hobbies here is amazing. Lunch conversations can range from space travel to Chinese history to Greek philosophers—all on the same day.
What do you like most about teaching at Penn State Fayette? The “a-ha” moment when a student finally understands a hard concept we have discussed in class. Priceless.
What inspires students the most in your classes and/or your academic area? That they are learning skills to help solve the energy and environmental problems faced in the United States and world today. Knowing that their life’s work will be to build the future is very satisfying to them.
What is your favorite class to teach, and why? STS 150 is an international science elective course for non-technical students where they learn the history of metals and its relationship to the global development of the fabric of society today. To teach a course without equations where we can blend everything from local history to the Space Shuttle together is a fun challenge.
What is your favorite class project, and why? AET 229 is our capstone course where the students use all the knowledge and skills learned in the program to design a functional system for a real building. Their final presentation is to a design professional from Pittsburgh who often will use the event to interview graduating students for jobs. The most recent project is to design a forensics lab modeled after Cyril Wecht’s new lab in Pittsburgh, and the project judge was the designer of that lab.
What kinds of unique opportunities are available to students in your classes or department? I believe in taking students to regional, national, and international conferences and expositions. We have been from New York to Disneyland and from Toronto to Orlando. We have been inside the world’s largest icing research wind tunnel at NASA Glenn, under the ice at Mellon Arena, on top of the tallest building in Canada, and to the bottom of the tallest zero-g drop tower.
What is your favorite quote? "A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank ... but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child."—Forest Witcraft