The Penn State Sustainable Communities Collaborative held its Campus and Community Sustainability Expo on Thursday and packed the house.
More than 250 people attended the event held at the Land and Water Research Building on campus. State College Police Chief Tom King and State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham were among the distinguished guests, along with a host of students and community members.
The event featured more than 34 student-led booths, with a wide range of social, political, economic and environmental infrastructure based ideas, all seeking to enhance the State College borough.
A memo sent out by the event organizer, Michele Halsell, said the expo featured projects completed by “over 220 Penn State students as a part of the Sustainable Communities Collaborative and Sustainable Food Systems Program.”
Attendees were given a “sustainability passport,” the night’s program guide to help them navigate through the wide variety of projects designed by students.
Projects included sustainable food systems, natural resources management, human resources, public safety and the built environment.
State College borough Manager Tom Fountaine said the Sustainable Communities Collaborative “has truly become a town and gown project that connects students with the borough.”
Fountaine also told the crowd that the projects students do are “very timely and important because of the work going on in the community.”
Fountaine didn’t specify which student projects he was talking about, but booth nine, “The Predictive Safety Models” stood out as it explored traffic safety at intersections in State College.
Penn State graduate student Bachir Hamadeh said the traffic light on the corner of North Atherton Street and Park Avenue inspired his project because of recent deaths there.
Hamadeh said the “average injury related crash costs $148,000,” while each “fatality related crash costs over $4 million.” Two fatalities, including one just this past summer, have taken place at this intersection within the past year. Hamadeh said he thinks changes should be implemented soon as “the benefits of renovation outweigh the costs five times more than if nothing was done at all.”
Another group of students designed a new Discovery Space Center. Two students, Brad Powelczyk and Greg Lynch, pitched turning the abandoned Verizon building into the new center. Their pitch featured a completely renovated building with more than 20,000 sprawling square feet filled with a dreamy, earthy and astronomy, meteorological center.
Goreham spoke with many of the students and said she was “so impressed.”
Goreham also said that the Sustainable Communities Collaborative is important because it “acquaints students with where they live and expands the ability of professionals working in the borough” because their work “educates us all about sustainability.”