Letter to the Community

Malcolm Dell (ME ‘14)

As many of you already know, it was discovered on Monday, October 7th that the heated gardens on the roof of the foundation building were vandalized. The details concerning the extent of the vandalism have not yet been released to the public; however, we do know that more than half of the plants were torn from their beds and the remaining root systems were severely damaged. Soil was shoveled out and used to write “Garden of the Union”. The student built, thermally insulated beds were also damaged. This project represents a concerted seven-year effort by nearly 50 students both graduate and undergraduate, all of whom were working with Professor Dell. Students have worked on the heated gardens in Iceland for credit under the summer study-abroad program, which will be offered again in the summer of 2014. The student who was affected the most was William Foley, a Master’s Thesis candidate. He had been caring for these plants for a year under the advisement of Professor Dell and Professor Wei. William was trying to prove that there were other plant varieties than those previously tested which would be able to survive and produce crops in the winter. This would help to prove that the growing season can be year long. He was also investigating automated heating and irrigation systems. William Foley’s thesis and graduation have now been delayed for a year.

There are currently two other heated garden locations, one at the Agricultural University of Iceland and the other is the Keilir Institute of Technology, both of which are located in Iceland. These experimental gardens utilize waste steam to heat the soil and promote plant growth. There is an average increase of 20% in plant growth and flowers can bloom in the snow. These gardens allow for crops to yield in cold-weather conditions which were previously considered inhospitable to many plants. In Iceland there are banana trees and an oak tree being grown outside, uncovered, and this summer there were tomatoes, zucchini, pea plants, and celery. This new agricultural technology offers a more economically profitable method of growing plants in prohibitively cold weather conditions, eliminating the need for green houses for at least a majority of the plant varieties which were tested. Sustainability is also addressed by utilizing waste-steam heat. In New York City alone, if this technology were to be implemented on the roofs of 30% of Consolidated Edison’s steam customers it would save more than 3 million cubic meters of drinking water per year. The drinking water would otherwise be used to cool the steam before it is released to the environment. This work has been recognized by ASME, the Geothermal Resources Council and various other organizations and periodicals. The project was at a critical point where press coverage was increasing and commercial applications were being negotiated, all of which would have benefited our school.
Professor Dell has discussed rebuilding the gardens with members of the student body from any of the three schools and is thankful for the support he has received. Cooper alum Gene Tabach, who had also worked on the heated-garden project, setup an Indiegogo donation page to help the project get up and running again (http://igg.me/at/CUgardens). The administration has been aiding in resolving the issue and discovering the culprit(s). No other details are available at this time.

- Malcolm Dell (ME ‘14)

Sports Update

Yara Elborolosy (CE ‘14)

Cooper students are known for having their lives taken over by academics before the first month of school is over. On top of academics, most of us also have jobs, take part in clubs, and participate in sports. For the scholar athletes at Cooper, sports start the week before school starts down in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Most of our athletes go down for a week to train, learn new drills, and create a special bond with our teammates. Students who are involved in sports were not the stars of their teams in high school, and some have never even played the sport before coming to Cooper. However, watching them play after Cape Cod and just a month or two of practice, you would never be able to tell.

For the basketball and volleyball teams, practice is generally on Friday and Saturday nights. For the soccer and tennis teams, practice is usually on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The cross country team practices throughout the week, mornings or nights, depending on their schedules. Soccer, women’s volleyball and women’s tennis season have already started and the results for their first games are listed on this page. ◊

Panel on Surveillance

Tensae Andargachew (BSE ‘15)

From the moment you swipe your debit card to pay for something, to the moment you make a phone call to anyone, anywhere – you are being watched. Indeed, the ubiquitous trail of data that everyone leaves behind is being collected and possibly processed and surveyed.

Last Monday, in the Great Hall, there was a discussion held on this very issue – the issue of surveillance. The discussion, moderated by Paul Garrin (A’82), and featuring Stanley Cohen, Paul DeRienzo, James Bamford and Donna Lieberman was one that was very informative – telling the audience of the potential pitfalls of surveillance.

The first member of the panel to take the stage was Stanley Cohen. He began with a simple unrelated remark: “Lincoln was taller, but I have a better beard”. He then went on and acknowledged people who have made contributions to the discussion on privacy, rights, and surveillance: Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley Manning), Edward Snowden, and Daniel Ellsberg. After this, he stated that the underlying culture of surveillance comes from the government’s need to do all that it can to protect itself.

Following Cohen’s introduction, Paul DeRienzo gave a number of case histories concerning instances of the government agencies of America spying on the citizenry. He told a story about a homeless woman who was taken to court after stumbling upon some sensitive documents. The judicial process incurred costs this woman had to pay that DeRienzo deemed outrageous relative to her crime. According to DeRienzo, his concerns over the cost of the proceedings were ignored because the accusing party was only interested in getting a conviction. He concluded his talk with a stark reminder that someone always watches us and a suggestion that the only way to combat the FBI is to use their own tactics against them.

After Paul DeRienzo came James Bamford, who spoke on the N.S.A’s history, and his understanding of the agency. He concluded his speech by asking the audience to be listeners, and stating that he believes the opacity of the N.S.A. would be cleared away some day, and become a totally transparent agency.

Finally, before the panelists had their discussion, Donna Lieberman took the stage and told stories of people receiving arbitrary convictions as a reminder that often, there is very good reason to keep their guard up. She also spoke on the ills of collections of big data, pointing out that it not only violates liberties, but also makes searching for the ‘needle in the haystack’ harder and inefficient.

For the next hour and a half, the panelists convened on the stage in the Great Hall, discussing many things – the differences between lawful and constitutional, and the erosion of privacy. After questions from the audience were taken, the event concluded. Everyone walked out more informed and more aware, but still watched. ◊

Interview with Christopher Chamberlin, Associate Dean of Student Affairs

Chae Jeong (ChE ‘16)

The Cooper Pioneer interviewed Mr. Christopher Chamberlain regarding his responsibilities as the Director of Residence Life and the Associate Dean of Student Affairs, his new position.

The Cooper Pioneer: How did you hear of the Cooper Union and what brought you here?

Mr. Christopher Chamberlain: I used to work as the Director of Operational Services for a public college in New Jersey and I wanted a change. A friend of mine had previously worked at Cooper as the Director of Residence Life and he highly recommended working here and when the position opened up here, I applied. I was and remain incredibly impressed with the Cooper Union’s ideals.

TCP: How many years have you been at Cooper Union?

CC: 3

TCP: Can you explain your role as Director of Residence Life?

CC: As the Director of Residence Life, I’m responsible for the overall operation of the student residence at 29 3rd Ave. My responsibilities include ensuring that we maximize our occupancy to provide the most housing opportunities to our students as well as overall program direction. As a team with the other professional staffs in the office, David Robbins and Marilyn Whitesides, the Residence Life works to ensure that the student residence is something more than just a “dorm”. We try to engage the students through programs and social events to get them to know each other, to network personally and professionally, and finally to grow as young adults. Since we generally only provide housing to first year students, we also try to prepare the students for the realities of living on their own in New York City.

TCP: What was your most memorable moment as Director of Residence Life?

CC: For the most, the memorable moment is always move-in day each year. The day that students move into the residence hall for the first time is always such an exciting time and truly marks, for most students, their official entry into our community and into adulthood.

TCP: Can you explain your role as Associate Dean of Student Affairs?

CC: As the Associate Dean of Student Affairs, I work very closely with Dean Baker in providing leadership for the department. I still oversee Residence Life, but I also manage the student health records, immunization requirements, medical leaves of absence, ADA disability accommodation requests, student counseling referrals, interface with the student government, code of conduct and student judiciary. I also work with the Center for Career Development and all the other areas within Student Affairs.

TCP: How do you feel about your new responsibilities as Associate Dean of Student Affairs?

CC: I’m really excited about this opportunity. I think that we have a strong team in place to make some really positive impacts throughout the campus. I’m really honored that Dean Baker asked me to serve in this capacity and I’m very grateful for all of the support that I’ve received from him and from the campus community in general.

TCP: What were some thoughts you had as you received this new position?

CC: I’m excited to be a part of this exciting time here at Cooper. Dean Baker has a wealth of experience and knowledge about Cooper Union that is unparalleled and really positions us to have a significant positive impact on the lives of our students. I have a strong background in both operations and student affairs and I’m excited to have an opportunity to work in a unique position that allows me to blend them both together.

TCP: What are some visions you have as you assume this new position?

CC: The offices within Student Affairs already produce great work and are staffed by extremely talented professionals. As I assume this new role, I hope to work with our staff to evaluate our current programs to higher levels. Even though we already do great things, we can always improve and raise our bar even higher. I look forward to forging a stronger partnerships with our colleagues around the campus, including Alumni and Development and all of the academic schools and programs.

TCP: How do you think that experiences from your role as Director of Residence Life will influence your role as Associate Dean of Student Affairs?

CC: My time as the Director of Residence Life really laid the framework for me to be successful in this new position. I have been able to interact with all of the key players as the Director of Residence Life and now as the Associate Dean of Student Affairs. I’m able to capitalize on those established relationships and really forge collegial bonds and work on behalf of the students.

TCP: Do you have any advice for students?

CC: I would tell the students to make the most of their time at Cooper and to build strong bonds with each other and their faculty. The Office of Student Affairs has a wealth of resources and I encourage students to take full advantage of all of the services that we have to offer them. Our job is to equip our students with the necessary tools to be successful both personally and professionally, and I encourage students to hold us to our charge. ◊

Photos by Jenna Lee (ME’15)

Online Portfolio Seminar

Matthew Lee (ME ‘15)

On Tuesday September 17th, Create@Cooper hosted an Online Portfolio building seminar taught by Eric Leong. The event was sponsored by The Hackerati, a Cooper Union startup hardware and software company. Sharang Phadke opened the evening with a broad overview of Create@Cooper: “It’s not a club; it’s more of a professional organization. The goal is to give Cooper students some real opportunities. We want to connect them with startups, and make some real impact with their work. We want people to be excited to show off what they’ve done.”

Eric Leong then took over, opening up Notepad++ on the projector. He rapidly typed out a few lines of HTML markup. In a couple short seconds, he saved his files and opened a new webpage in his browser containing his name and a short bio of himself. Throughout the hour, Eric demonstrated how to add various pieces of text, use CSS to format different fonts and colors, and move text around a webpage. “Making the website is simple; you can Google any tutorial on how to write some html or CSS. The hard part is having good content.”

Eric recommended Mozilla developer network, and to a lesser extent w3schools.com, to look up various tutorials and references on how to code. Leong constantly emphasized the importance of experimenting with the building of a website by inspecting the source code of other websites. Firefox and Chrome both have an “Inspect Element” tool that lets you examine the code that is used to format already existing sites. The lesson concluded with a short explanation of how to get one’s website online.

Leong recommended using Amazon S3 to host your files, and namecheap.com to buy a domain name. Rob Marano, one of the Co-founders of The Hackerati, and an adjunct Engineering professor at Cooper, gave some closing statements.

For more information about the Hackerati: thehackerati.com/

Interview with Stephen P. Baker, Dean of Student Affairs

Matthew Lee (ME ‘15)

This past Tuesday, the Cooper Pioneer (TCP) sat down with Dean Baker (DB) to discuss his new role as Dean of Student affairs.

TCP: How many years have you been at Cooper?

DB: This is the start of my 48th academic year.

TCP: Please describe how you were informed of your new position as Dean of Student Affairs?

DB: During the process after Dean Lemiesz, the administration talked to about assuming the responsibilities. It was very recent.

TCP: Were you previously aware you may be chosen? Have you ever asked for the position?

DB: No.

TCP: A lot of us at Cooper have many things to manage. What do you specifically do to stay sane while running both the athletics program as Dean of Athletics, and acting as Dean of Student Affairs? Any time management tips?

DB: The most important ingredient is the dedication and the relationship with the students, the second thing is the commitment to the school, and the third thing is that as a Cooper Union person you don’t rely so much on sleep. I think the passion that all of us have, the initiatives that we all want to take, the creative juices we all have all blends together. There’s 24 hours in a day, and some people know how to manage their time better than other. At Cooper Union you have the time to not only focus but you have the time to be creative, and that’s unlike any other school in the word and I think that’s the blend of it. There’s always time to do things.

TCP: With your added responsibilities do you feel you have less time for anything else in the day?

DB: I make time. I’m thinking about the students, I’m thinking about the school. If I commute 5 hours a day, I’m thinking about who I’m going to see; the person I feel sorry for is the first person I see because I might be thinking about something else for 2 hours while driving in. I plan my day, but I also have to be flexible. It adds another dimension to the students and myself sharing something that’s going to make this place better.

TCP: How do you like the role so far?

DB: I’m enjoying every minute of it because I think there’s a level of energy – everyone is wishing me well and encouraging me – and there’s an energy of the incoming students that is just remarkable.

TCP: Any interesting stories?

DB: Look at what happened at Cape Cod. You look at everything we introduce: are we professors? coaches? administrators? friends? What goes on up there, the dynamic of what goes on up there […] I think everybody felt they were more committed to what they were doing and more committed to helping me and helping us. I saw something I hadn’t seen since I was a little kid up in Cape Cod:

One squirrel is up in a tree. The squirrel is out at the end of the tree. Now their food is free – they’re not going to the supermarket, but they have to get it seasonal. So one of them instead of taking individual acorns, this squirrel got creative and started shaking the branch. And then the nuts would fall down to the ground. So that to me is a Cooper Union story, in the sense that the Cooper Union person realizes where he/she is: they have to be efficient, then they have to take those nuts and bury them and prepare for exams or the future. The other squirrels going around picking up nuts from the ground. The Cooper Union squirrel is taking care of business.

TCP: The email we all received stated you “will take on the leadership responsibility for Student Services in the interim.” Do you know if the administration is actively searching for a permanent dean?

DB: I think that the position is gonna be now called Student Affairs. I think what they are pursuing is having me fill that administrative position. The first thing we did was to elevate Chris Chamberlin to the Associate Dean position. And I don’t think there’s too many people walking around with 3 Dean titles and I don’t want to be greedy.

TCP: They built you this office in 3C [in the dorms]. How was that move?

DB: The move was to save money in 30 Cooper: they are condensing six floors to four. So we were selected to come over here. Financial Aid is being put in with Admissions, which most schools do. So that’s going to free up some floors. So they asked us – Career Services, Athletics – to come over here in the dorms to have one office. They’re going next door with the residential offices, and they put me over here in 3C. But originally [former] Dean Lemiesz selected this place for me, she selected this spot. This move was taking place before she left. Now we have to figure out the office space, figure out how public it’s going to be, how private it’s going to be, so students will have access and [so that] it’s not geographically ugly over at 30 Cooper Square. We’re going to be amongst the students.

I was originally in the Foundation Building. When they renovated in ‘72 I went to the Engineering Building. From the engineering I went to the Hewitt Building for about 20 years. From the Hewitt Building I went to 30 Cooper Square. So this is the 5th place we’ve been to.

TCP: What is next for the future of Cooper?

DB: It’s going to be a transition that has never be experience before at Cooper Union. I am extremely optimistic in the school’s ability and the student’s ability to improve the product, to raise the interest, and also to keep the level of intensity, creativity, and excellence that we always have. I think that we want to encourage the excellence of the students and continue to maintain the integrity of the institution.

I think I’m known for saving money and raising money. That’s one of my major functions. Also we raise awareness and raise integrity of the things we get associated with. With the changes that are going to affect incoming students, it’s incumbent for us to maintain that integrity. I just found out we are the Number One rated school for Regional Colleges (North) in US News. That’s definitely because of my new promotion!

Photos by Jenna Lee (ME’15)