Academics at Union - Sciences and Engineering

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UNION COLLEGE | 1 SOCIAL SCIENCES, HUMANITIES + ARTS @UNION flip for SCIENCES+ ENGINEERING @UNION

NEW FRO

FOR SCIENCE, ENGINEERING AND THE LIBERAL ARTS

In 1845, Union became the nation’s first liberal arts institution to offer engineering, and we have been revolutionizing the integration of traditional liberal arts, science and engineering ever since.

We offer a diverse number of programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Our lab spaces rival professional and graduate-level facilities, and our talented faculty are passionate about their teaching and research.

Union’s focus on integrating the liberal arts and STEM will prepare you to understand the dynamic demands of our tech-centric society, and to address age-old questions about the human condition through courses in the arts, humanities and social sciences. We are equipping students with the knowledge, experience, wisdom, empathy and courage to lead in emerging fields that cross disciplines, and to make an extraordinary difference in the world, now and across multiple tomorrows.

It’s why students come to Union today.

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SCIENCES + ENGINEERING @UNION OFFICE OF ADMISSIONS / GRANT HALL / 807 UNION STREET, SCHENECTADY, NY 12308 union.edu admissions@union.edu (518) 388-6112

TALKING WITH PHYSICS PROFESSOR CHAD ORZEL

There are many good reasons to study STEM at Union. Chad Orzel, associate  professor of physics, weighs in on a few of them. He is a popular scientific author (“A Brief History of Timekeeping”; “Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects”; “How to Teach Physics to Your Dog”; and other books). He blogs at forbes.com.

Why study STEM at Union?

Our students are engaged in research at a level that’s just not possible at many other institutions. We have facilities and equipment that are comparable to those at larger universities, such as our particle accelerator. But at those schools, the facilities are mostly controlled by graduate and postdoctoral students. Our undergrads are deeply involved in the operation of everything we have.”

Do you get to know your students?

As with many other things at Union, the most important element of our science teaching is building relationships between students and faculty. We work so closely with students on research projects that they become akin to research colleagues. And because our classes are so small, we interact with our students on a variety of levels.”

What’s exciting about Union’s undergraduate research?

It spans all disciplines. At our annual research day, Steinmetz Symposium, it’s exciting to see so many students cross academic boundaries in unexpected ways— like the electrical engineering major who created digital tap shoes and performed in the dance festival.”

What makes Union STEM students more competitive after graduation?

I never fail to be impressed with how well our students express themselves in public. Beyond developing the ability to do a narrow technical presentation in their field, our students learn to speak with knowledge and confidence on a wide range of topics to many different audiences, whether on campus, or at local or national research conferences. These communication skills are essential in almost any line of work.”

PROFESSOR CHAD ORZEL UNION COLLEGE | 3
STUDENTS WORK ON THE PARTICLE ACCELERATOR. “ “
NTIE RS

THE CLASSROOM EXPERIENCE

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A COURSE IN MICROBIOLOGY INCLUDES LECTURES PLUS LAB WORK. SCIENCES + ENGINEERING @UNION

Small classes. Top-notch academics and research. Professors who care.

CLASSROOM

SAMPLE COURSES

ASTRONOMY

Galaxies: A survey of the physical properties, dynamics and distribution of galaxies, including the content, formation and evolution of the Milky Way

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

Microbiology: A focus on bacteria and viruses, with a special emphasis on organisms that cause disease in humans

BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING

COMPUTER SCIENCE

Can Computers Think?:

Introduction to algorithms, data structures, programming techniques, and basic methods and philosophy of artificial intelligence

ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING

MATHEMATICS

Ancient Greek Mathematics: An examination of Thales and Pythagoras, Plato and his academy, Euclid and his Elements, and the great Archimedes

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

Space Flight: The basics of space travel, including orbital motion and trajectories, interplanetary transfers, atmospheric entry, ground tracking and altitude control

Biomechanics

1: An overview of two- and three-dimensional force systems, equilibrium and distributed forces in the context of the musculoskeletal system

CHEMISTRY

The Art & Science of Painting: A historical and chemical grounding in the topic of painting and its impact on society, with a focus on the 14th to 17th centuries

COMPUTER ENGINEERING

Image Processing: Covers the basic operations performed on digital images, including digitization, image enhancement, color image processing and image compression using the discrete cosine transform and wavelets

Electric Circuits: Basic concepts and devices, such as Ohm’s law, Kirchhoff’s laws, Thevenin and Norton equivalents, operational amplifiers, analysis methods, capacitors, inductors, ideal transformers, phasors, AC steady state analysis, complex power, frequency response and filters

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Renewable Energy Systems: The study of renewable energy resources and the conversion technologies available to meet society’s energy needs

GEOSCIENCES

Natural Disasters: An introduction to the geologic processes causing floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, and other natural hazards; and how hazards affect people and society, including the risks people face in different regions and how they can be minimized and managed

NEUROSCIENCE

Attention & Memory: How people take in, store, retrieve and interpret information about the world around them; how we manipulate stored information and perform many cognitive tasks as a result of this process

PSYCHOLOGY

The Psychology of Language: How neurological disorders impact language functioning, with a look at basic anatomy and language-related topics such as speech perception, linguistic acquisition and linguistic diversity

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UNION COLLEGE |

FOR ONE DAY EACH SPRING, UNION CELEBRATES STUDENT RESEARCH AT THE COLLEGE’S STEINMETZ SYMPOSIUM. A TRADITION SINCE 1990, THIS EVENT SHOWCASES STUDENT RESEARCH IN ALL DISCIPLINES.

RESEARCH FROM A TO Z

Here’s a look at a few recent STEM-focused projects by students.

Automated Surface Photometry of Galaxies in Groups

Biopolymer-Based Triboelectric Nanogenerators

Carbon Dynamics in a Marsh-Dominated Estuarine Ecosystem

Designing a Low-Cost Ultrasound Pulser

Freezing Brain Tumors Noninvasively with Laser Cooling

Geometric Constructions, Origami and Galois Theory

Identifying Backward-Looking Neurons in the Aeshnidae Dragonfly

Light-Induced Expression of a Blue Coral Protein in an Industrial Fungus

Mozart Effect and Other Misbeliefs About Psychology

Optimizing a Connecting Rod through 3D Printing

Portable Solar Energy Power System for Natural Disaster Relief

Quantification of hFSHR Signaling to Determine Dependence of Lipid Raft Residency

Teleoperation of Robotic Systems in Virtual Reality

Using Stable Isotope Analysis to Identify Tick Hosts

Water Quality Policies in New York and California

Zero Emissions Credits and Nuclear Energy Subsidization in the Empire State

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UNDER

RESEARCH GRADUATE

For the past several years, Union engineering students have been working to design a replicable wheelchair for children that’s reasonably priced and easy to use by retrofitting the Power Wheels Wild Thing, a Fisher-Price battery-powered vehicle.

“Small kids without the ability to walk need a low-cost training power wheelchair. It’s not a simple thing to build in a way that can be easily duplicated,” said Cherrice Traver, the David Falk and Elynor Rudnick-Falk Professor of Computer Engineering.

Commercial power wheelchairs typically cost more than $10,000, making them too expensive for wide usage in physical therapy and rehabilitation programs.

To address this problem, two students began designing the first version of a replicable chair as their senior capstone project in 2017. Since then, Traver, whose research interests are in applications of embedded systems, has continued working with students on structural enhancements.

The first group of students adapted the control interface, and created and constructed flexible seating customizations. They later delivered a prototype to the Langan School at the Center for Disabilities in Albany, N.Y.

The next year, a student developed an improved version of the control system as his senior thesis and also created an easily replicable open-source product that would be accessible to a wide range of clients.

“Witnessing children using the wheelchair last summer made me appreciate all the work done by Professor Traver on this project,” said Nathaniel Goku ’23, a biomedical engineering major who is now carrying on the research. “I am very fortunate to be a part of it.”

Jonathan Fischman ’25, a computer engineering major, also finds it gratifying to be able to solve a problem that affects families every day.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to work on a project that will make a real, positive impact on the lives of these kids,” he said.

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EMPOWERING CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
PROFESSOR CHERRICE TRAVER WORKS WITH NATHANIEL GOKU, LEFT, AND JONATHAN FISCHMAN ON THE REPLICABLE POWER WHEELCHAIR.

IMMERS

A SAMPLING OF RECENT STEM INTERNSHIPS:

• Boston Museum of Science

• FloDesign Wind Turbine

• General Electric

• Harvard Psychophysiology Lab

• Johns Hopkins Medical Center

• MGE Engineering

• NASA

• Nature Conservancy

• Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research

• Stanley Black & Decker

• Yale Bioethics Institute

STEM ABROAD

• Explore marine ecology on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

• Study at the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of the oldest and most renowned schools of its kind.

• Travel to Egypt to learn about such ancient and modern engineering marvels as the Pyramids, Suez Canal and High Dam.

With Union’s international programs, you’ll experience another culture, challenge yourself academically and personally, and develop as a citizen of the world. Most programs are led by our own Union faculty, so you also will get to know your professors beyond the campus environment.

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNSHIP ON INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY

Union students get a firsthand look at the culture of Silicon Valley while working for start-ups and other companies during this term away. The program combines an internship with a course in culture and entrepreneurship, which includes readings, field notes, and meetings with key employers and alumni in the area. About half of the students work in STEM-related fields. Most recently, participants have interned at the California Academy of Sciences, the Exploratorium, the software company Zendesk, a student loan refinancing start-up and numerous nonprofits.

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BODIES IN MOTION: ANATOMY OF A JOINT BIOLOGY AND DANCE CLASS

Biological Sciences and Theater & Dance are two departments that don’t typically cross paths, but for students in The Science of Human Movement course, combining the sciences and humanities proved enriching.

The bio-dance course aims to give students a way to critically and scientifically evaluate personal movement patterns while also inspiring them to move with a greater understanding of their bodies.

In studying the particulars of the musculoskeletal system, they learn at the intersection of biomechanics, exercise physiology and cognitive neuroscience.

After performing movement sequences in the Henle Dance Studio that focus on spinal positions, they head to the CRoCHET Lab (Collaborative Robotics and Computer-Human

Empirical Testing), where they use an NSF-funded high speed 3D motion capture system to digitize and analyze those movements.

“It’s exciting and fun to communicate the same ideas about the human body from two different academic starting points,” said Scott Kirkton, associate professor of biological sciences, who co-teaches the course with Laurie Zabele Cawley, assistant director of dance.

“This class is a nice marriage of the academic classroom and laboratory with functional movement based on the performance of dance.”

“In today’s technology-driven world, it’s easy to move through the day disconnected from our physical body,” said Cawley.

“Through movement exercises, students integrate class material for an embodied experience, pairing science and somatic work.”

ON CAMPUS

With more than 130 student clubs (and new ones being formed all the time), STEM-focused students are certain to find ones that match their interests or spark their curiosity. Here are just a few:

• Baja SAE Club

• Beekeeping Club

• Biology Club

• Biomedical Engineering Society

• Chemistry and Biochemistry Club

• Engineers for a Sustainable World

• Environmental Action Club

• Gaming4U

• Geology Club

• Math Club

• Ornithology Club

• Pre-Health Society

• Robotics Club

• Rocket Club

• Society of Physics Students

• Union Neurotech

• U-Sustain

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BIOLOGY AND DANCE CONVERGE IN THE LAB AND THE DANCE STUDIO, WHERE STUDENTS LEARN ABOUT HUMAN ANATOMY.

MORE S+E POWER » THANKS TO A HISTORIC $51 MILLION ALUMNI GIFT, THE COLLEGE IS TRANSFORMING ENGINEERING AND THE LIBERAL ARTS WITH THE CREATION OF THE TEMPLETON INSTITUTE FOR ENGINEERING AND COMPUTER SCIENCE.

INSPI R ED

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THE INTEGRATED SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING COMPLEX IS A HUB FOR STEM CLASSES, LABS AND RESEARCH.

No matter what your STEM field, our campus environment is designed to spark your passion for exploration, discovery and reasoning in scientific and technical fields –and empower success in your future studies and career. Here are some of the exciting ways you can delve into the STEM disciplines at Union.

USE a 1.1-MV tandem pelletron accelerator, 400-MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, micro CT scanner and other sophisticated instrumentation, including equipment in the thermal science and fluid mechanics lab.

VIEW the planets and gain a galaxy of knowledge by using the Union Observatory, which features a 20-inch Ritchey-Chretien telescope with SBIG CCD camera and a 7.5-foot radio telescope for research projects in observational and radio astronomy.

DO cutting-edge work in tissue culture and molecular biology suites

WORK with robots and leverage a state-of-the-art motion capture system in the CRoCHET Lab —the Collaborative Robotics and Computer-Human Empirical Testing Lab.

EXPLORE sustainable building design and renewable energy systems in the Energy and Environmental Engineering Suite. Design, set up and monitor prototypes in the Rooftop Energy Research Lab

UNDERSTAND how the brain works, with studies in everything from neuroethology to the intricacies of cognitive processing, in the Center for Neuroscience

FABRICATE and tinker in our Makerspaces, interdisciplinary labs that support maker activities using digital and analog tools, including virtual reality technology, 3D printers and scanners, a laser cutter, CNC router, soldering kits and more.

LEARN about how to acquire, analyze, interpret and visualize data in our Center for Data Analytics

STUDY the peptoid-mediated assembly of nanoparticles at fluid interfaces using the Langmuir trough in the Robertson Chemistry Lab.

SPACES

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STEM EDUCATION THE VALUE OF A

Our emphasis on innovation, research, problem-solving and communications will set you up for success in graduate schools, fellowships and a wide range of careers.

Here’s a look at where some of our students headed after earning their degrees.

ASTRONOMY

» Educator, Astronomical Society of the Pacific

» Fulbright researcher, Germany

» Ph.D. candidate in astronomy, Yale University

» Ph.D. candidate in atmospheric sciences, University of Washington

BIOCHEMISTRY

» Ph.D. candidate in chemistry, Purdue University

» Physician, Jackson Memorial Hospital

» Research associate, Berg Diagnostics

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

» Anesthesiologist, Maimonides Medical Center

» Medical writer, Yale New Haven Hospital

» Veterinarian, Valley Animal Hospital

BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING

» Associate project engineer, Stryker Orthopaedics

» CAD engineer, ConforMIS Inc.

» Research manager, Partners HealthCare

CHEMISTRY

» Assistant professor, Duke University

» Chemical research scientist, Roche Pharmaceutical

» Senior research chemist, Nalco Chemical Company

» Senior scientist, Base Pair Biotechnologies

COMPUTER ENGINEERING

» Database developer, AcuStream

» Senior systems engineer, Lockheed Martin

» Systems analyst, International Atomic Energy Agency

» Vice president, Morgan Stanley

COMPUTER SCIENCE

» Lead financial analyst, IBM

» Patent examiner, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

» Robotics researcher and Ph.D. candidate, Cornell University

ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING

» Electrical engineer, Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories

» Engineer, Apple

» Manager / integrations engineer, Google

» Systems engineer, Raytheon

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

» Assistant project manager, Triumvirate Environmental

» Estuary stewardship educator, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

» Financial associate, Fidelity Investments

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

» Bioacoustician, Alaska Fisheries Science Center

» Landscape designer, Sasaki Architecture and Planning

» Ph.D. candidate in earth and planetary sciences, Northwestern University

GEOSCIENCES

» Ph.D. candidate in igneous petrology, Stanford University

» Physical scientist, Naval Oceanographic Office, Stennis Space Center

» Seismologist, National Earthquake Alerts Centre, Australia

MATHEMATICS

» Associate vice president, Barclay’s Capital

» CRM applications account manager, Oracle

» Software developer, Allscripts

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

» Chief design engineer, General Electric

» Engineer, Toyota Racing Development

» Mechanical engineer, Ephesus Lighting

NEUROSCIENCE

» Chief resident, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital / Weill Cornell Medical Center

» Clinical research coordinator in neuro-oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital

» Educator, Teach for America

» Image reading center manager, Johns Hopkins University

PHYSICS

» Chamberlain fellow, Berkeley National Lab

» Nuclear operations engineer, Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation

» Ph.D. candidate in physics, University of Michigan

PSYCHOLOGY

» Clinical trial coordinator, Mount Sinai Medical Center

» Ph.D. candidate in social psychology, University of Iowa

» Psychiatric social worker, Bellevue Hospital Center

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SCIENCES + ENGINEERING @UNION

EDUCATION STEM STARS

GORDON GOULD ’41 » Inventor of the laser; worked on the Manhattan Project, 1943-45; elected to National Inventors Hall of Fame

BARUCH BLUMBERG ’46 » Physician and scientist who discovered antigen for Hepatitis B; received the Nobel Prize in Medicine

ALFRED SOMMER ’63 » Acclaimed ophthalmologist who discovered vitamin A vaccine to save millions from blindness

CHRISTINE KELLY ’74 » Information technology expert, Fulbright Scholar and former lead scientist for the Mitre Corporation at Johnson Space Center, where she prototyped AI systems for the Space Station

RICH TEMPLETON ’80 » Chairman, president and CEO of Texas Instruments; electrical engineer and global leader in semi-conductor design

SUE GOLDIE ’84 » Physician and MacArthur Fellow who developed models to evaluate public health impact of HIV, hepatitis and HPV

MELISSA STEWART ’90 » Award-winning author of National Geographic Kids titles and other science books for children

ELLIOT SEGUIN ’05 » World record-holding flight test pilot and founder of Wasabi Air Racing, aerospace company in Mojave, Calif.

SAM BARSTOW ’11 » Mechanical engineer and co-founder, with classmate Jake Anderson, of Forsake Climate Neutral-certified sneakerboots; vice president, Weyco Group at Forsake

MEGAN O’CONNOR ’12 » Co-founder and CEO, Nth Cycle environmentally friendly electronics recycling firm; Department of Energy Innovation Crossroads Fellow; Forbes “30 Under 30” energy innovator

EMMANUELA OPPONG ’19 » Biomedical engineer and Watson Fellow dedicated to global health care and development; processing engineer at Integrated Liner Technologies, Inc.

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ENGINEERING COMPUTER SCIENCE ECONOMICS

MAJORS

ASTRONOMY BIOCHEMISTRY* BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING CHEMISTRY CHINESE CIVIL ENGINEERING** CLASSICS

AMERICAN STUDIES ANTHROPOLOGY ART HISTORY ASIAN STUDIES

AFRICANA STUDIES

*major only ** coming fall 2023

MUSIC

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

MANAGERIAL ECONOMICS* MATHEMATICS

CARIBBEAN STUDIES

WOMEN’S STUDIES GEOSCIENCES GERMAN STUDIES HISTORY LATIN AMERICAN AND

GENDER, SEXUALITY AND

FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE STUDIES

ENGLISH ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING** ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

62 MAJORS AND MINORS

three courses at a time.

25 countries .

40+ programs in

of students study abroad, with

60 %

Three 10-week terms allow students to focus intensely on

NANOTECHNOLOGY PUBLIC HISTORY STATISTICS

MUSIC TECHNOLOGY

SPANISH

AND HISPANIC STUDIES

TECHNOLOGY

EUROPEAN

STUDIES

ADDITIONAL MINORS

GREEK JAPANESE JEWISH STUDIES LATIN LAW AND HUMANITIES

GLOBAL AND POPULAR MUSICS

FILM STUDIES FINANCIAL AND ACTUARIAL MATHEMATICS

Learn more at union.edu/academics

of students conduct original, faculty-mentored research.

distinct courses offered each year

80 %

600+

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ELECTRICAL
COMPUTER
ENGINEERING
NEUROSCIENCE ORGANIZING THEME (SELF-DESIGNED) PHILOSOPHY PHYSICS POLITICAL SCIENCE PSYCHOLOGY RELIGIOUS STUDIES STUDIO
RUSSIAN AND EAST THEATER
SCIENCE,
AND SOCIETY SOCIOLOGY
FINE ARTS
ASTROPHYSICS DANCE DATA ANALYTICS DIGITAL MEDIA DIGITAL STUDIES ENERGY STUDIES
majors and minors

Exclusively undergraduate students

at least one internship before graduating.

student-faculty ratio 9:1

of students combine disciplines

by professors (not teaching assistants).

labs are taught

All classes and

of students complete

85 %

AND DISTINCTIVE

75 %

Most Accessible Professors (The Princeton Review, 2023)

ACADEMICS @UNION

EXCEPTIONAL
Top Producer, Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award recipients
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