The University of Delaware announced on May 29 a strategic partnership with Delle Donne and Associates Inc. and Bancroft Construction Company, both Delaware-based firms, to develop a plan for phase one of UD’s 272-acre Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus in Newark, Del.
The STAR Campus, formerly Newark’s Chrysler Assembly Plant, was purchased by the University in November 2009. Beginning in fall 2010, 1743 Holdings, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University, oversaw millions of square feet of building decommissioning and demolition. As 85 percent of the materials were recycled, new partnerships were forged.
“Last fall, we announced eV2g — a joint venture with NRG to build electric cars — and just in April we broke ground with Bloom Energy, as it will be constructing its first East Coast manufacturing facility on the STAR Campus,” said Scott Douglass, executive vice president and University treasurer.
UD has entered into a ground lease agreement with Delle Donne and Associates Inc. and Bancroft Construction Company as development manager and general contractor, respectively, to identify and work with potential subtenants for occupancy.
Phase one focuses on the redevelopment of the existing former Chrysler Assembly Plant administrative building along South College Avenue and high bay space, on 15 acres of land. It will be remodeled and expanded, from 170,000 square feet to 230,000 square feet, to house the College of Health Sciences. Construction will begin this summer; the building is expected to open in January 2014.
This is part of the University’s overall “3 +1” strategy for the campus, which, in addition to life and health sciences, also includes energy and the environment, and national security and defense, as well as enabling transportation infrastructure, according to Mark Barteau, senior vice provost for research and strategic initiatives.
“We want to align our strategic priorities with opportunities,” said Barteau, who pointed out UD’s academic strengths as well as its strong research partnerships with the U.S. Army at Aberdeen Proving Ground, the Fraunhofer Center for Molecular Biology, the BADER Consortium and others.
Kathy Matt, dean of the College of Health Sciences envisions the campus as a health community for a healthy community.
“We have the opportunity to create a campus where you can live, work and be healthy,” said Matt.
Prospective tenants include the Delaware Health Sciences Alliance, UD’s Department of Physical Therapy and the Nurse Managed Health Center, as well as clinics and labs, biomedical and biotech companies, fitness facilities and outdoor trails.
The University’s Resident Ensemble Players (REP), a company of some of America’s most experienced stage actors and actresses, produced Timberlake Wertenbaker’s play Our Country’s Good in March. The play takes place in one of the first penal colonies in 1788 Australia, and the set design was simple: a stage full of sand and one 43-foot mast from a sailing ship.
The challenge was determining how to create a giant sandbox on the Thompson stage in the Roselle Center for the Arts.
The technical staff first had to determine if the stage could handle the structural load of 30 tons of sand; the wooden structure built to contain the sand; various prop tables, chairs and wooden trunks; and the weight of 10 actors.
Once the staff established the safety of the distributed load, the next step was sand research. Technical Director Pete Brakhage visited three quarries and one supplier around Delaware looking for color and cleanliness.
“I would wind up purchasing sand from a quarry near Dover, which is a Coastal Plain deposit that is much cleaner than anything else I saw, presumably by virtue of water percolating through it for millennia,” Brakhage said. “When damp, it looks like Atlantic beach sand, and when dry, it is fairly white. All the other sand in the area is contaminated with silt and iron — there is a lot of organically produced bog iron in this area from the marshes that preceded the Coastal Plain. We had to avoid the iron specifically so that the costumes would not get stained.”
The next task was getting all that sand into the building and onto the stage. The solution was low-tech: 12 people, 8 wheelbarrows, 5 shovels and several tubes of muscle pain relief cream.
Tricia Wachtendorf has been at the scene of numerous catastrophes, including New York City after the 9/11 attacks and areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. Yet what struck the associate director of UD’s Disaster Research Center most about Japan’s Tohoku Tsunami was its “combined enormity and complexity.”
“The tsunami directly hit three prefectures, wiping out the built environment in many cities,” Wachtendorf said. “They were very difficult to reach. There was so much debris to deal with. There were so many people to relocate. Add to all of this the ongoing nuclear crisis at Fukushima. The nuclear meltdown in addition to the already devastating event had real consequences to the response, how people made sense of the event, and the recovery.”
Together with Kathleen Tierney of the University of Colorado, the UD team recently co-authored the emergency shelter and housing section of a new international report on the disaster, published by the Earthquake Emergency Research Institute (EERI). (Download a pdf of the report here.) Wachtendorf and doctoral student Rochelle Brittingham continue to work closely with colleagues in Japan. Their initial visit in June 2011 was funded by the National Science Foundation and was followed by two additional field research trips. Wachtendorf is returning to the affected areas this summer.
Although one might think the most unforgettable aspect of such an immense disaster would be negative, Wachtendorf said she will always remember making a towel into the shape of an elephant alongside women staying in a shelter.
“It was an effort by a group of volunteers from Kobe to give the women something meaningful to do to occupy their time — pay them for making the craft and raise money for disaster relief by selling the craft in other areas of Japan,” she explained. “It was a wonderful informal way to hear about their experiences in the shelter and thoughts on the early recovery. Plus, let’s just say that sewing is not my strong point! The women patiently helped me, I’m sure laughed many times at my lack of ability, and demonstrated a real human side to the issues we were studying.”
Among the most important lessons to be learned from Japan’s experience: communities were well versed in tsunami evacuation procedure, holding evacuation drills in much the same way fire drills are held in U.S. schools.
“Lives were surely saved as a result. I’m not sure how well some communities in the U.S. would do in similar circumstances,” she notes.
Planning for and assisting people with disabilities in a disaster remains a major need.
“It’s easy to think of people with disabilities as a homogenous group, but there are so many different considerations for different families,” she says. “Working with these potential victims and survivors is essential, both in understanding what the needs are and how best to address them.”
The 6-year-olds sit expectantly in front of their teacher. After reading a story to them, the teacher discusses how the author used specific words to describe the main character. She then asks the children to write their own story that uses the same kind of words to describe a character.
This is just one example of an approach teachers might use to help first graders learn to write. The question is, does it work?
David Coker, Charles (Skip) MacArthur and Liz Farley-Ripple in UD’s School of Education are working to find the answer. They are leading a $1.4 million, four-year study funded by the Institute of Education Sciences to determine the best methods to teach writing skills to first graders.
Writing is central to the development and refinement of ideas, and it is crucial for both academic and professional success, according to a report from the National Commission on Writing. However, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found that over 70 percent of fourth-grade students tested did not meet the benchmark for proficient writing. Even more alarming, the results revealed a large achievement gap attributed to family income.
Given the lackluster writing performance of American students, teachers and researchers want to learn about more effective teaching practices.
Much of our understanding of how writing instruction is conducted in the primary grades comes from teacher surveys. Teachers report spending more time teaching lower-level skills than composing, and indicate that they conference with struggling writers more than with average writers. Most writing instruction is given to the whole class, with small-group instruction and individual support provided when needed. While these surveys provide insight into the nature of writing instruction, they are unable to capture how variations in instructional methods and time devoted to instruction translate to student outcomes.
Through a partnership with the Christina and Red Clay school districts in Delaware, UD investigators have developed a protocol that will be used in 50 first-grade classrooms to observe and monitor the results of various teaching methods. Analyses will be centered on 6–9 students per classroom, segmented by low, medium and high performers. The Delaware Education Research and Development Center at UD is helping to train the observers who are responsible for the day-long classroom monitoring.
The team hopes to provide a detailed picture of what effective writing instruction looks like in first grade and which approaches are more effective for students with specific strengths or weaknesses. “Our long-term goals are to use this information to design a writing curriculum that allows teachers to differentiate instruction based on students’ needs,” Coker says.
Maria Telkes, a University of Delaware scientist known as the “Sun Queen” for her pioneering solar energy research, was post-humously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, May 2, in Washington, D.C.
Telkes was among 12 inductees, including late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, recognized for their world-changing inventions, from the first statin, which launched a new class of drugs for lowering cholesterol, to solar thermal storage systems — Telkes’ forte.
In 1972, Telkes, a Hungarian-American physical chemist and biophysicist, joined the research team at UD’s Institute of Energy Conversion (IEC), where she developed the heating system for Solar One, UD’s experimental solar-powered house.
Previously, at MIT, Telkes devised the heating system for the first solar-heated home. The Dover Sun House, erected in Dover, Mass., in 1948, was a “woman-powered” effort, with architect Eleanor Raymond designing the structure, Telkes its heating system, and Boston heiress/sculptress Amelia Peabody financing it. The house was built on Peabody’s property.
Telkes also developed solar ovens and stills for distilling drinking water from seawater, as well as thermal storage materials for shipping temperature-sensitive instruments in the Polaris, Minuteman and Apollo programs.
“Maria Telkes was a most valuable member of my team and contributed significantly to the prestige of our university,” said Karl Böer, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Physics and Solar Energy, who founded the IEC in 1972. “I am especially pleased that she is finally elected to become a member of the Hall of Fame, an honor she has well deserved.”Telkes designed heat storage and air conditioning systems “that were far ahead of the state of the art at the time,” Böer said.
Telkes developed special salts to capture heat and cold. The salts exploited the heat of fusion, which is set free when solid ice melts into liquid water, or is required to freeze water.
Böer said bins of Telkes’ salts in the basement of UD’s Solar One house could store not only the heat harvested from the roof during daylight in winter to warm the home (the salts melted), but also could store the coolness during clear night hours in summer to provide cooling on a warm day (the salts solidified).
Although Telkes retired from UD in 1978, she remained active as a consultant nearly until her death. She died in Hungary in 1995, only a few days short of her 95th birthday.
In 1977, the National Academy of Sciences Building Research Advisory Board honored Telkes for her contributions to solar-heated building technology; previous honorees included Frank Lloyd Wright and Buckminster Fuller.Material related to Telkes is included in the Karl Wolfgang Böer Papers, which are in Special Collections in the University of Delaware Library.