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Students, faculty remember Cathy Pieronek

first_imgLast Thursday, Catherine “Cathy” Pieronek, an associate dean in the College of Engineering and the director of the women’s engineering program, passed away suddenly at the age of 52.According to College of Engineering Dean Peter Kilpatrick, Pieronek proved to be a champion of the women engineers on Notre Dame’s campus, but also on a national level. Students have recalled her dedication to the engineers and also to the school as a campus leader who sought to continually improve the University and, specifically, the College of Engineering.In an email, Kilpatrick described one of Pieronek’s large contributions to the women’s engineering program that dealt with residence halls. When Pieronek joined the engineering faculty in 2002, female enrollment in the college was lower than it was now, and each women’s residence hall only had “one to two” engineers living in it.“This meant that women who wanted to study with their classmates and other engineers would have to go to another residence hall (often a male residence hall) and when the parietals require women students leaving male dorms at midnight (despite whether the homework or studying was all finished), this placed a hardship on the women engineering students,” he said.“So Cathy, in concert with others in the College, got [the Office of Residence Life] to start clustering women engineers in fewer dorms so women could develop natural study partners in their own residence hall. This strategy, and many others, has led to a dramatic increase in both the retention and the numbers and percentages of women in engineering here at Notre Dame. We are now well over 30 percent, a remarkable increase in the last 10-plus years. Cathy played by far the dominant role in this transformation.”Kilpatrick and others recalled her tendency to be extremely direct with students in her role as an advisor.“I have so many memories of Cathy, but perhaps my favorite memory was when I shared with her recently how grateful a parent was for the direct and forceful advice that Cathy gave his son on the occasion of struggling academically and disciplinarily and the way the young man had been able to turn things around with Cathy’s support and encouragement,” he said. “Cathy gave me a simple ‘aw, shucks’ response and immediately deflected the accolade.“This was classic Cathy. She did what she did for our students because she was deeply committed and cared about them as persons. In this regard, Cathy taught us how to be fully human and fully Christian.”Senior Cecilia Ruiz said she met Pieronek when she was a first-year engineering student and member of the First Year Engineering Council.“What I remember the most is her passion to education and her devotion to her students,” Ruiz said in an email. “She touched many lives with her advice and picked up many of us who struggled through some of our semesters.“Always understanding, but firm, she encouraged me to continue in my endeavors and challenged all whose lives she touched to be the best version of themselves. I can’t think of a better role model to follow as an aspiring female aerospace engineer, and I am grateful for her presence in my life.”Senior Maggie Miller said her relationship with Pieronek began during her freshman year. She said Pieronek took an interest in her summer job with Notre Dame’s Introduction to Engineering Program and talked to her frequently throughout the summer.“Most of the conversations we would have were about how we could make the College better, how we could improve the perception of engineers on campus,” Miller said in an email. “This was especially pertinent to me as I have been heavily involved with various performing arts groups during my time at Notre Dame, and Cathy always took a surprising interest in this and in other students that were leaving their mark on campus in areas other than engineering. She wanted us to feel like we were students and to get away from seeing ourselves as nerds who could only sit in their rooms and study.“She fought relentlessly for the students in the College, and even though she was often very hard on struggling students they were always better for it. Tough love was definitely her approach, but it was in fact a deep love that she showed the students.”Miller said Pieronek was especially important for the women of the College, which she witnessed firsthand as a student representative on the College of Engineering Council.“I remember in one meeting looking around and realizing that Cathy and myself were the only women in the room of 20 or so other people, and Cathy always played a large role in running those meetings,” Miller said. “She became someone I very much wanted to emulate in her confidence and in her caring.”Senior Ryan Griffin said Pieronek cared about all her students in the College of Engineering, which led to a tough but rewarding mentoring style.“She expected you to own up to your mistakes and act like an adult,” Griffin said in an email. “But if you were capable of doing that, Cathy would match you every step of the way working with you, teachers, the department, advisors, you name it, in order to help you succeed. She was also an incredible mentor to the students who got close to her.“Those of us who were lucky enough to call her a mentor will forever treasure the advice she gave us and carry her words with us in our careers.”Tags: Cathy Pieronek, College of Engineering, SWE, Women’s engineeringlast_img read more

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Op-Ed: Montana Is Blessed With Vast Renewable Energy

first_imgOp-Ed: Montana Is Blessed With Vast Renewable Energy
 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Jeff L. Fox for the Billings Gazette:The Bozeman Daily Chronicle recently editorialized that it’s “Time Montana realized coal’s limitations.” Similarly, The Billings Gazette recently ran editorials claiming that “Montana can’t stake its future on coal,” and Montana’s economy and energy sector must “Diversify or die, it’s our choice.”The editorials ran in response to the state’s grappling with the reality of a shrinking coal sector. Both editorial boards correctly identified that the challenges facing Montana’s coal sector extend far beyond the EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” carbon regulations. Both also correctly identified that Montana’s economy is diverse, and that further diversification will help us shrug off any coming coal losses. However, neither fully captured the opportunity that renewable energy development can play in building a brighter future for Montana.Montana is blessed with one of the best wind resources in the United States, which can help power our state and large portions of the economies of Washington, Oregon and California, just like Montana’s coal currently does. Additionally, our solar energy resource is more than adequate to meet a sizable portion of our own in-state demand, if we get serious about utilizing it.People who want to invest in and help build Montana’s renewable energy future are already here, ready to bring forward the clean energy that is in demand. Reviewing the interconnection requests on NorthWestern Energy’s system reveals every utility-scale electric energy project being actively developed (more than 50 in total on NorthWestern Energy’s system) is either a wind or solar energy project. Not every project currently being developed is likely to be successful, but the fact that all are renewable is an indicator of where we are going and where we should focus our efforts.Tallying up proposed wind projects statewide reveals there are more than 2,000 megawatts of wind energy being actively developed right now in Montana. If built, 2,000 megawatts of installed wind energy would probably represent something like $3 billion in capital investment, more than 11,000 construction job years, and more than 500 permanent jobs, based on the “Employment Effects of Clean Energy Investments in Montana” report authored by energy consulting firm Synapse Energy.Two thousand megawatts is a good starting point, but we have nearly limitless low-cost wind potential in Montana that can complement the renewable resources in neighboring states. How much wind resource we develop is really up to us, but commitment to even a modest goal could provide significant economic impact to help with our energy transition.Matching coal’s economic footprint would provide support for Montana’s rural communities, pumping tax dollars, local spending, landowner payments and, most important, jobs into small towns, without disrupting their character. A wind project in every county would help keep small town schools — the lifeblood of rural Montana communities —in good health.Meanwhile, Montana is seeing our first utility-scale solar projects being developed and community solar projects taking off with rural electric cooperatives leading the way. The rooftop solar market is experiencing sustained double-digit growth in Montana and today there are already more than 50 main street Montana-based businesses involved in selling, installing and connecting rooftop solar energy systems.Finally, large pumped hydroenergy storage projects proposed for Montana could further increase the value of wind and solar energy potential.The transition to cleaner energy is happening all across the country. It can happen here, too.Nationwide the solar industry already employs more workers than the entirety of the coal industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects wind energy technicians to be the fastest growing occupation in the nation through 2024.None of this is to suggest the challenges facing coal communities aren’t real and potentially painful. Together, we all must ensure that utilities, mine operators, and politicians do right by the workers if those jobs disappear or are phased out. But, Montana also has enormous benefits to realize in the clean energy transition, if we are open to seizing the opportunities.Guest opinion: Renewables can diversify Montana’s energy economylast_img read more

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