Ph.D student, Biological Design
Ph.D student, Biological Design
As scientists and engineers, it is vital that we use our expansive knowledge of esoteric material to educate the public and increase scientific literacy within our communities. By being effective communicators of science, we are enabling our citizens to make educated decisions about science based funding and policies- which is essential to the function of our democracy. The Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology is dedicated to the purpose of spreading scientific awareness and contains two members serving as presidents of non-profit organizations on campus. Mackenzie Hagan, the president of the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) (http://studentorgs.engineering.asu.edu/asce/), and myself, Bradley Lusk, the president of the elementary education outreach organization Camp Sparky (www.campsparky.org), recently teamed up to have our organizations present three interactive lessons about civil engineering concepts to the fourth and fifth grade class of Phoenix Collegiate Academy. During the visit, the we also presented an informative lesson about education after high school to help prepare the students for careers in science and engineering.
The three civil engineering stations included building bridges with straws and tape, building dams with rocks and sand, and developing water filtration systems using basic household materials. The students were encouraged to engineer solutions to problems rather than merely follow instructions. For example, students building the bridges were informed that the completed bridge needed to be able to sustain the weight of a book while maintaining structural integrity if presented with a strong force like wind shear. If the construction failed when tested, students were asked to discuss why and then develop a new plan to prevent future failure. If students struggled, examples were presented so that students could evaluate pre-existing solutions and develop their own based on previous models. The day closed with a series of songs and dances to get everyone on their feet and excited about education and engineering.
The elementary students and members of the Swette Center, Camp Sparky, and ASCE had a terrific time interacting throughout the day. After attending the event, there was unanimous consensus amongst all attendees that interacting with elementary students to share our passions and ideas for the purpose inspiring aspiring young minds was an immensely satisfying and gratifying experience. On behalf of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, Camp Sparky, and the American Society for Civil Engineers, we highly encourage everyone to take the time to motivate our youth and experience the wonder of changing young lives, one classroom at a time.
Associate Research Scientist
Here I am, writing about a memorable trip that I took with my wife and fellow SCEBers this October to witness César and Anca unite in wedlock on a pristine and sandy beach in La Salinas, Baja California, Mexico. My wife and I were to be accompanied by Bruce and Jon Badalamenti (who made the trek all the way from Minneapolis) in my mid-size Sedan for the six-hour road trip to the Pacific Baja coast. Other folks from SCEB (Daniel, Devyn, and Diana) embarked on separate journeys to join us at the wedding. The trip was smooth and the road was straight and unadventurous like any other major highway westbound from AZ. The monotony of the road was short-lived and after a few adventurous hours of trying to find our destination, we made it to La Salinas later that night.
The next morning is when we realized why the tortuous journey was worth to wake up for, as our rooms opened up straight to the mighty Pacific and you could see and hear the waves rumbling on the beach with literally no one around… we were as close as it gets to a private beach! After a lazy breakfast and a gentle walk, we reached the villa where Anca, Cesar and their families were residing.
We hung out with the families before we realized that time flew by and we got ready for the main wedding event scheduled just around sunset. Anca’s aunt organized the entire ceremony so elegantly. The wedding decoration requires special mention and description as it was an amazing arrangement that I have ever witnessed. The aisle was decorated in a circular pattern with sunflowers and apples. The central part where the vows were to be taken had all the five elements of nature – water, sand, sky, fire and wind. It is believed that this would bring in lot of positive energy to the couple. The wedding rings were placed on the center of the sun flowers along with the home made sour bread. At around 5:30 the ceremony started when the bridegroom accompanied by his mom entered the arena. This was followed by the bride and her grandfather. Each of the family members gave a piece of advice and their blessings. The rings were exchanged and they were pronounced husband and wife. This was followed by their wedding vows. The mariachi singers started playing while each one of us went and wished the couple and signed the guest list.
The wedding ceremony was memorable with a couple of group pictures taken with Anca and Cesar in various combinations, including the one above with the SCEB family! The ceremony transitioned to dinner with music from the Mariachi band that was clearly a highlight of the evening’s event. Dinner with seafood specialties and generous homebrew from Cesar was delicious. Soon, it was time for dessert and the wedding cake, followed by hours of fun and frolic. All folks ripped up the house that had transitioned to a dance floor and replete with energy and enthusiasm.
We quickly recharged ourselves the next day morning, after a night of partying and fun, to head out on a daytrip with Cesar, Anca and the families to two local vineyards (trip to an underground wine cellar included) in Northern Baja. We had quite a good time and returned back to La Salinas for a dinner with the family and one more memorable evening in our trip.
We had such good fun and good times during our entire stay that we will cherish forever! It was great to be part of the event that marks a new beginning in the lives of two of our friends, colleagues, and great researchers!