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HERE Program, Oakley Observatory Inducted into Green Lights Hall of Fame

Tuesday, October 04, 2016
Garden Club Greenhouse

Impacting Campus: Students in the HERE program designed and constructed a campus greenhouse that is harvesting water for a nearby vegetable garden planted by the Garden Club.

Rose-Hulman's Home for Environmentally Responsible Engineers (HERE) program and Oakley Observatory have been inducted into Sustainable Indiana 2016's Green Lights Hall of Fame for their efforts to promote a sustainable future. They were among 200 groups and individuals recognized this fall.

HERE is a first-year living-learning experience for a select group of students who have interest in sustainability or humanitarian engineering. The program's academic courses integrate several sustainability themes: thinking in terms of systems, exploring renewable and non-renewable energy, learning about the food-water-energy nexus, life-cycle assessment, and much more.

HERE students take part in special professional development opportunities and tackle design projects throughout the school year. Recent projects have included designing and constructing a campus greenhouse that harvests rainwater for a nearby garden that's growing vegetables for students, redesigning efficient lighting systems for classroom buildings, and developing a campus bioswale.

"We want students to understand the impacts that engineers and scientists can have by applying their technical skills to enhance the world around us," says HERE Co-Director Jennifer Mueller Price, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering.

The courses and extracurricular activities are developed by Mueller Price along with HERE program co-director Mark Minster, associate professor of English; Michael DeVasher, associate vice president for enrollment management; and professors Michelle Hoffman (chemistry and biochemistry), Richard House (English), Patsy Brackin (mechanical engineering), Steve Chenoweth (computer science and software engineering), and Elton Graves (mathematics).

Rose-Hulman's other Green Lights honoree, the Oakley Observatory, is a multipurpose observatory founded in 2000 through a gift of the Hollie and Anna Oakley Foundation, Inc. of Terre Haute. Through its eight telescopes, students, faculty, and community citizens have been able to observe and discover astronomical sights, and Rose-Hulman's astronomy program has expanded course offerings and research opportunities.

The observatory recently added a 17-inch reflecting Corrected Dall-Kirkham telescope to replace older telescopes. A recent Oakley Foundation donation will provide for one replacement telescope for the observatory in each of the next three years.

Oakley Observatory Ditteon

Stargazer: Oakley Observatory Director Richard Ditteon has drawn attention to the problem of light pollution and its effects on professional and amateur astronomers.

Oakley Observatory Director Richard Ditteon, Rose-Hulman's Herman A. Moench Distinguished Professor, has been an outspoken critic of the growing problem of light pollution in Terre Haute. Excess light from nearby housing developments, parking lots, and shopping centers is intrusive and unappealing, wastes energy, negatively impacts wildlife, and hampers the effectiveness of observatories and amateur astronomy stargazers, he believes. Ditteon has worked with local companies and construction firms to implement techniques that address the effects of light pollution.

"We only have one earth," says Ditteon. "We all have to share it and be good citizens of that earth. Thinking carefully about your lighting choices is just another example of that. We want to be kind to each other and we don't want to annoy other people with our lights."

Sustainable Indiana 2016 has been working for 10 years to identify and celebrate the individuals and organizations that are taking steps to make the world a more livable place.