When School of Education first-year students arrive in the fall, they receive much more than a hearty welcome and a campus map. They participate in the semester-long First Year Forum, a one-credit course designed to help them adjust to the school, the campus community, and the city. The new students are also matched with peer advisors.
      Amie Redmond, the school's recruiting specialist and coordinator of the First Year Forum and peer advisor program, sees this as an opportunity for students to learn about their new home and its resources, as well as get to know administrators, staff, faculty, and each other. Transfer students enroll in a similar program, University Transition. "After the first semester of being here, our students really have a good understanding of what Syracuse University is all about," she says. "They share ideas and experiences."
      Dean Steven Bossert, who teaches a forum section, believes it builds a strong community among students and gives them a sense of belonging to the school. "I create many opportunities for my students to work together and socialize. Getting to know one another lessens apprehension about being in a new environment, especially when they openly share similar fears, concerns, and reactions," he says. "I routinely include activities that involve group problem-solving, and the students help each other adjust to campus life. This is important."

                                                                           amie redmond
Dean Steven Bossert with students from a fall 1996 First Year Forum session.

      Such topics as registration, counseling, and time and stress management are integrated with informal activities like bowling, apple picking, going out to dinner, and attending Syracuse Stage productions. Professors Patricia Tinto G'90 and Vincent Tinto, who co-teach a forum section, often invite students to their home for dinner. One of their assignments is for students to read the works of faculty and interview them. "We want students to see people's professional and personal sides," Patricia Tinto says. "It allows students to see the institution as a community. In college, you really need to be part of a learning community, and we try to help them make that transition."
      Loren Kirschner '99 is part of the school's peer advisor board, whose seven members co-teach forum sections, providing a student perspective on issues. The forum serves as a great way to get to know fellow students, including those in other majors, and faculty, Kirschner says. "It really shows students that these are people who care about us and are here to help."
                                                  —JAY COX



The glass-enclosed suite of offices on the third floor of Hinds Hall sports a new sign: Geofoam Research Center. The center is led by Professor Dawit Negussey of the college's Division of Mechanical, Civil, and Chemical Systems.
      "This center is so necessary because the needs for infrastructure construction and rehabilitation are urgent and expanding," Negussey says. "Geofoam has many roles to play in construction."
      "Geofoam" is the generic term for large blocks or boards of polystyrene foam—the same material used to make office coffee cups and molded electronics packaging.
      For engineers, geofoam's value is twofold: It is a great insulator, and blocks of the material weigh little for their volume-40 to 100 times less than an equal volume of soil. Geofoam's low mass has already landed it a role as lightweight fill in two major U.S. construction projects: the I-15 highway around Salt Lake City, Utah; and the new Palisades Center shopping mall in West Nyack, New York. Here in the Syracuse area, the material surrounds the foundation of the Carousel Center shopping mall, where it helps to relieve lateral stress.

      Negussey has made numerous presentations across the United States on the material, and taught the first course on geofoam in the country. In addition, his lab work has provided data to builders and geofoam producers, leading ultimately to corporate support for the new center.
      Negussey's promotion of geofoam led to a successful reconstruction along Route 23A in Greene County, New York, where an unstable embankment slope threatened a protected stream. To prevent a possible collapse, geofoam blocks were substituted for soil within the roadway embankment, decreasing the force that caused the movement of the embankment.
      Before and during reconstruction of the embankment, sensors were installed to measure pressure and displacement. Engineering graduate student Michael Sheeley is analyzing the data collected through the use of the sensors. "I have an opportunity to study a material that is relatively new to the world of civil and geotechnical engineering," says Sheeley, who worked in Negussey's lab during the past two summers. "It is exciting to be part of this investigation that will be valuable for public and private engineering organizations."
      As a consequence of the project, Negussey is working on a study—which is jointly funded by the Federal Highway Administration and the Society of Plastics Industry—of geofoam for slope stabilization.
      "Students who learn about geofoam properties and applications have an edge getting work in their field," the engineering professor says. "This is a good example of how research and innovation benefit our collective effort toward excellence as a student-centered research university."

                                                  —WILLIAM PRESTON

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Main Home Page Fall 1998 Issue Contents
Chancellor's Message Opening Remarks In Basket
Honors MacArthur Fellow On TRAC
The SU List Lacrosse Legend Report Card
Quad Angles Campaign News Student Center
Faculty Focus Research Report Alumni News/Notes
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