AU Press Releases

Two efforts earn Alfred University Bergren Student Innovation Award recognition

The student instigator who created a permanent facility to recycle supplies for art students and the student facilitator behind a racing program with long-term benefits for engineering students were selected to receive the 2006-07 Alfred University Bergren Student Innovation Awards.

This year’s honorees are graduating seniors George Bland Hoke, an art and design major from Wilson, WY, and Steven Peifer, a mechanical engineering major from Fishkill. The committee has the discretion to award more than one first-place award, as it did this year. Each first-place award carries a cash prize for the student(s) of $500.

University Trustee Les Gelber, a member of the Alfred University Class of 1977 and vice chairman of the Board of Trustees, suggested this year that the award -- formerly the Alfred University Board of Trustees Student Innovation Award -- be named in honor of the late Rev. Dr. Richard Bergren, who was an assistant professor of religion and director of religious programs from 1960-68 and continued teaching at the University until his death in 1975. The Rev. Dr. Bergren was also pastor of the Union University Church, Alfred, during that time. The renamed awards "honor the Rev. Dr. Bergren's scholarship, teaching and respect for students."

The award was created by the University trustees in 1995 to recognize a student, or group of students, who found a need within the Alfred community and developed a solution with a lasting impact. The efforts can improve the quality of life of any Alfred constituency including, but not limited to, students, staff, alumni, or members of the surrounding community. The award is presented annually at the May Board of Trustees dinner on campus.

Hoke, recognizing a need to recycle excess and discarded supplies from art students, faculty, business, and residents for use by other art students, created the RePo (Reusable Materials Depot) Center, a permanent facility and student resource in the NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Hoke will use the Innovation Award monies to buy an infrared heater for the RePo container for winter months.

Hoke credits Jeff Johnson, director of the NYS College of Ceramics Physical Plant, and Cherise Haase, AU environmental health and safety coordinator, with assisting in implementing the project. During the spring semester, the RePo had two managers and six student volunteers/employees. During its first two months of operations, RePo distributed almost two tons of materials.

A son of George and Elizabeth Hoke of Wilson, WY, Hoke is a graduate of Jackson Hole (WY) High School.

Peifer built a gravity-powered race car, then traveled cross-country with roommate Michael Hanes, a graduating senior materials science major from Westfield, to race in the Extreme Gravity Racing (EGR) program, placing sixth out of 11 teams including professional engineers from Honda, Chrysler, and Mazda. Their groundwork with this program could benefit the Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University for years to come.

EGR is the “Formula 1” of downhill racing. Each year, the exclusive competition features approximately 15 of the world’s most prestigious auto manufacturers and universities. In 2006, Peifer convinced EGR CEO to allow collegiate teams to compete.

Using a small, out-of-pocket budget, Peifer and Hanes designed a fully enclosed car in which the driver lays head first with arms outstretched. They were the only team to feature such a radical design and received a lot of attention at competition last summer.

The race was on Tuna Canyon Road, Malibu, CA, one of the most extreme roads in the world. Placing sixth, Peifer and Hanes came out far ahead of the spec cars designed by Mario Corbzi of Ferrari!

During the past academic year, Peifer lead a group of five senior mechanical engineering students working on a new EGR car as a senior design project. The group hopes to compete in three races this year. This year’s design features the ability to adapt to different types of courses by changing wheels and brakes, a feature that no other EGR car has implements.

To better incorporate the entire University, Peifer is turning the project into an official club which will help to ensure its existence following his graduation.
Peifer is a mechanical engineering major and a graduate of John Jay High School He is a son of Gy and Kathleen Peifer.

Each year, the director of Student Activities seeks nominations for the Innovation Award from the entire campus. Nominated students complete a written interview regarding their efforts. A four-member committee – vice president of Student Affairs, trustee chairman of the Student Affairs Committee, Student Senate President, director of Student Activities -- reviews and ranks the nominees. The committee then recommends a nominee(s) to be approved by the Trustee Student Affairs Committee.

Other nominees for this year’s Alfred University Bergren Student Innovation Award include:

Shannon Richmond, a graduating senior sociology major from Oregon City, OR, who initiated “Candles at the King” by partnering with the American Cancer Society to help raise awareness and funds. She also hosted the first AU Relay for Life this spring.

Kaci Smith, a graduating senior art and design major from Rochester, who used Alfred’s student talent to create an art show in the Women’s Leadership Center. The art work was auctioned off and proceeds forwarded to Alternatives for Battered Women of Rochester.

Hoke and Matt Rink, a graduating senior art and design major from Redding, CT, who created COTTA (Community Outreach Through the Arts) Commission. Plans presented in spring 2007 included a new, artistic bus stop for the village of Alfred.

LEAD (Let’s Explore All Differences), a group formed to bring diversity programming into the residence halls.

Bonnie Ye, a graduating senior and accounting major from Flushing, NY, who recognized the diversity within all AU students and implemented Five Stories. She created a monthly lecture series which featured five students’ perspectives on various topics such 9/11, immigrating the United States, and coming out of the closet.

Jessica Webster, a graduating senior finance major from Rochester, and Phi Beta Lambda (future business leaders) who led an effort to support athletic teams and build excitement. Their bonfire and s’mores-eating contest were highlight of the semester.

Casey Cutting, a graduating senior art and design major from Endicott, who began to inspire young artists through Project Hope, a program that partners high school students with AU art students.

Representing the needs of older and commuter students, Eric Carvalho, a graduating senior accounting major from Livonia, created a babysitter list, petitioned to have changing tables in bathrooms, and continued to work on improving conditions for non-traditional students.

In reaction to proposed legislation restricting immigration, members of Students Acting for Equality organized a May Day rally to coincide with other national marches and demonstrations. The event featured student speakers and information regarding the contributions of immigrants in the United States.

Christopher Dunshee, a graduating senior history major from Potsdam, dreamt of creating an Alfred wrestling league modeled after the extremely popular televised shows. He rented a ring, trained wrestlers, created characters and wrote exciting storylines filled with conflict and drama. The events were well-attended and provide a venue for many students’ imaginations.

Ben Duffy, a graduating senior psychology major from Laverock, PA; Colleen Raynor, a sophomore from Glen Cove; and Jackie Moyers, a graduating senior from Conneaut Lake, PA, served on a food committee and developed solutions to various hot-topic dining issues.

The Forest People and a local church joined forces to collect well wishes and small, non-perishable items for our overseas troops.