Speakers focus on ‘green’ initiatives during Quest

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By KATHERINE RAYMOND

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STAFF WRITER

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kraymond@oswego.edu

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The Campus Center was bustling Wednesday as the 2009 Quest Day unfolded with more than 270 presentations emphasizing the creativity, talent, intelligence and skill of members of the Oswego State community.

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Many students and faculty had the opportunity to show the results of many months of research and planning, as they presented to the entire campus community.

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The day started off with several invited speakers addressing energy, sustainability and society in the Campus Center auditorium. John Vasselli, Technology Fellow from Carrier Corporation and United Technologies Company, started his speech by saying that there are a lot of challenges facing the planet, and we need to understand where we are, believe in problems we have, then work on changing things.

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The talk, entitled "Global Challenges to America’s Future," emphasized a shift to renewable resources, such as biodiesel, biomass, nuclear, and coal, and a shift away from the disposable and excess energy consumption. "In our society, disposable is an attribute, so we need to think differently and act differently," Vasselli said.

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This generation, Vasselli said, will inherit all of these problems, so students need to take the role of future leaders and act now. Andrew Thompson, a student in attendance, commented on the presentation.

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"People need to hear this. But at the same time, it upsets me because people don’t grasp it. We need to change student ideologies and philosophies," Thompson said.

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The next speaker, Stan Whittingham from Binghamton University, agreed. "Students have to do it. They have to conserve and clean their energy." He said this could be done through action and education. Whittingham is a top researcher in the field of batteries.

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His talk dealt specifically with how batteries are formed and how scientists are trying to maximize the use and storage of energy in these electric car batteries. Whittingham stressed that we "need action not talk from the federal government."

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Several panels in the political science and women’s studies departments also took place. The topics covered were the role of liberal arts and sciences in the 21st century higher learning, women in the workplace and the juried women’s studies panel.

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Meanwhile, spread throughout the Campus Center, many students set up posters detailing personal and group collaborations in creative projects through the art, communication studies, physics and mathematics, and several more departments. A multitude of different presentations were spread throughout the entire day, packing in a lot of information about the outside-the-classroom projects on which students and faculty are working.

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Jack Gelfand, chair person of Quest, spoke about how motivation and creativity are two very important assets. "I want to stress … to encourage people to be creative," he said Wednesday. "It’s part of their (students) education to participate. To get a job, this is what you have to do."

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And in order to get help in obtaining a job, the keynote speaker, University Administrator Kevin Snyder from the University of Central Florida, offered students some advice. He challenged them to find something they’re passionate about and to find a way to make it happen. "What can you do to incorporate passion with your goals?" he told the audience to ask themselves.

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Snyder also told students to being comfortable with be uncomfortable on a daily basis. "Everything you want in life is just outside your comfort zone." Snyder ended the speech by saying: "Leadership is not position; it is action. The role is defined by you."

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The overall Quest itself was well-attended, as many students came for different reasons. Some students came for extra credit opportunities and found interesting, unexpected discussions. Sophomore public justice major, Kyle Lounsberry said that Quest was overall a "good experience."

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"A lot of students are very happy to be here," he said.

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Quest Briefs

"Former slave preaches individual beauty

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The tale of Saartjie "Sarah" Baartman was indicative of oppression and objectification of both women and African people in history, said Whitney Adams in a Quest presentation entitled, "Exhibitor’s Marks."

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Adams told the audience of approximately 15 students and faculty that beauty should be an individual quality and should not be determined by any external society or group.

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"Sometimes women don’t know how labeled and embodied they truly are," she said.

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Baartman was a slave orphaned as a child and kept by Dutch farmers in South Africa. Baartman was notable because she suffered from a medical condition known as steatopygia-which is an excess accumulation of fat around the thighs and butt giving the afflicted an appearance of a prominent posterior.

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Because of her unusual appearance, Baartman was brought to Great Britain by her master to be displayed in a cage and mocked by curious visitors. She was treated extremely poorly and taunted by the people who would prod her, said Adams. However, Baartman had allegedly signed a contract, in her own language, in which she agreed to her treatment.

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Adams also emphasized the work of feminist luminaries during the presentations.

"Project features animated pet reactions

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Cara Thompson and a group of students, including Dawn Orlandella, Lisette Antigua, Mike Donato and Brian Hauser, have been working on a project that uses sensors to influence the behavior of an animated pet.

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After obtaining a grant, the group is now waiting for the money to come in so that they can purchase more high-tech sensors for inputting information. The goal is to eventually have virtual pets that respond to different sound levels, the number of people in the room and how close the people are to the pet, adding monitors that would allow a pet to follow a person around the room and possibly adding even more tricks over time.

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Until the grant comes in though, the group is limited to microphone and light sensors. Fish, bees, sheep and ostrich are all in the initial stages of using a microphone to make the pets react differently. For example, Orlandella’s sheep blinked its eyes if there was a soft noise in the microphone, would wiggle its ears at a medium volume noise, and would blow a raspberry if there was a loud noise.

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The project is only in its early phases, but it could make a wide variety of reactions to variables in the room. Light, sound, the pitch of a person’s voice, proximity, number of people in the room, movement, even touch will possibly be incorporated into the programs.