As part of its 2016 Earth Day activities, Penn State hosted the spring Campus and Community Sustainability Expo at the State College Municipal Building on Monday.
More than 200 students across eight fields of study gathered to show off their work, highlighting the sustainability challenges and opportunities that face the Centre Region.
The projects presented represented a semester of work by the different student groups, Penn State Sustainable Communities Collaborative Director Michele Halsell said. In most projects, students teamed up with a local municipality, nonprofit or business to highlight the needs of a particular location or field of interest.
“We understand that sustainability is not the responsibility of any one party,” Halsell said, “but it’s a whole community effort, and you need to bring everyone together to find solutions.”
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The first project attendees encountered sat outside the front doors of the borough building, as three Priuses from the Penn State Transportation Department were wrapped in green designs and lettering highlighting their compressed natural gas fuel systems.
Transportation had approached the students in the graphic design department to help them design a wrap that showcased the cars’ fuel source, associate professor Ryan Russell said. Nine designs were submitted, and three were chosen to be physically used on the vehicles.
“I think the students did a really wonderful job,” Russell said. “They put some thoughtful solutions together that visually focused on the sustainability and efficiency of the vehicles.”
Halsell said the wraps were a perfect example of work the students bring to the community and was work to be proud of.
“Talk about a resume builder,” she said.
Meanwhile, students on the second floor discussed their projects covering agriculture, architecture, energy, water, recycling and even human resources.
Alyssa DiPippa, a freshman studying architecture, explained her group’s project partnering with the recently established Penn State Student Farm Club. The club was recently allotted 1 acre of farmland off Fox Hollow Road.
In order to make the area more attractive, DiPippa and her classmates designed four pavilions for storing equipment and tools and providing a gathering place for the community. Three of the four pavilions have already been built, she said, using reclaimed and reused material including wood, windows and copper pipes.
“Our main goal was to create a space where people wanted to be,” DiPippa said, “that was both beautiful and functional, and to create a community environment.”
Halsell said she hoped the projects broadened the students’ idea of what sustainability is; that it’s beyond the environment and also related to the economy and the health and well-being of a community.