Keep up to date on with the Institute for Energy's recent activities and published work.
The Institute for Energy has launched a 360-degree tour of the inside of the tiny classroom. View it at www.francis.edu/tiny-classroom
Representatives from Saint Francis presented at Norwin Middle School’s eighth grade STEM day on March 13, 2020. Mr. Michael Sell, Project Coordinator, discussed wind energy as a source of electricity and provided hands-on activities with model windmills and turbines. Working in groups, students were challenged to lift weights and generate electricity using the power of the wind.
Mr. Michael Sell, Project Coordinator, had his article “Reaching sustainability goals through efficiency and off-grid living” and Ms. Allison Rohrs, Energy Specialist, had her article "Utility-scale wind energy development challenges in Pennsylvania, 2018" published in the Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science. The articles are companion pieces to presentations given during the Alternative Energy Symposium at the 2018 annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science.
Mr. Sell served as a judge at the IU8/IU11 Regional Competition for the Governor’s STEM Challenge at Juniata College on February 20, 2020. Students from area schools were challenged "to research, design, and present a device or project that can make the quality of life better for Pennsylvanians by accomplishing a series of practical tasks that can fulfill real-world needs."
Institute staff visited Divine Mercy Catholic Academy students from pre-k to eighth grade to deliver sustainability-themed lessons.
October 2019Institute staff visited Divine Mercy Catholic Academy students from pre-k to eighth grade to deliver weather and air quality lessons.
Michael Sell spoke to students in CORE 113: Harvesting Energy in the 21st Century students on two occasions. The focus of the discussions were solar and wind energies.
September 2019Michael Sell presented “Energy from the Sun” on September 5, 2019, at the Allegheny Creamery and Crepes in Hollidaysburg, PA. Mr. Sell discussed how solar energy can be used in a variety of heating and electricity producing applications.
On the 21st, a display about wind energy was part of the Science Outreach Center's Solar 5K.
August 2019A display about wind energy was presented at sustainability fairs held at Clear Creek and Parker Dam State Parks.
May 2019Michael Sell participated in Quantum Quest Fest with a table on wind energy.
On May 16, Sell presented "Wind Power!" at the Patton Public Library. The event included hands-on activities for children. The program received coverage from the Mountaineer-Herald.
On May 31, Sell visited Spring Cove Middle School for a hands-on wind activity with students during STEM day.
The Institute's mobile power lab project received a 2019 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence during a ceremony in Harrisburg.
Allison Rohrs and Michael Sell served as judges at the 2019 University Park KidWind Challenge.
Institute staff visited Divine Mercy Catholic Academy students from pre-k to eighth grade to deliver sustainability-themed lessons.
Michael Sell participated in Earth Day events organized on the Saint Francis University campus and at the Logan Valley Mall.
The tiny classroom visited the NEPA Green Fair in Scranton, PA.
tiny classroom project has "been selected by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to receive the prestigious 2019 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence." It was one of 17 projects selected this year. "DEP evaluated projects for their degree of environmental protection, innovation, partnership efforts, economic impact, consideration of climate change, and sustainability and results achieved," according to the award
Michael Sell visited students at C.W. Longer Elementary, Hollidaysburg, for a wind weightlifting activity during Science Day.
Michael Sell spoke at the Drake Well Museum and Park in Titusville, PA, on March 28, as part of the annual Petroleum Program Series. The museum, which is located at the site of the world’s first commercial oil well, features an activity or presentation on a local history or energy topic every Thursday in March. Sell’s talk was titled “Wind Energy in Pennsylvania,” and explored the past, present and future of wind in the state and received front page coverage by the Titusville Herald.
February 2019Michael Sell served as a judge at the IU8 Regional Qualifying Competition for the Governor’s STEM Competition in Altoona on February 5. Students from area schools were “challenged to research, present, and design a device or project that can make the quality of life better for citizens of Pennsylvania.” Each team was judged on creativity, design, scalability, teamwork and other factors. Chestnut Ridge School District
placed first and will move on to the state competition.
Michael Sell spoke at the Martinsburg Booster Association's monthly meeting about wind energy in Pennsylvania.
Students in SCI 201 visited the Colver Power Plant to learn how waste coal is used to make electricity.
Institute staff visited Divine Mercy Catholic Academy students from pre-k to sixth grade to deliver weather and air quality lessons. The partnership between DMCA and SFU was highlighted in a
WTAJ-TV segment and
Our Town Johnstown article.
Allison Rohrs, director of the Institute, is now recognized as a certified energy manager by the Association of Energy Engineers.
Michael Sell presented "Spinning in the Wind" at Science Café: Cosmic Cocktails on December 6, 2018.
We welcomed community members to the tiny classroom during an SFU Football Saturday, high school students during Science Day, and SFU education students during their class!
Michael Sell led a Sustainability Merit Badge session for area Boy Scouts on October 6 as part of SFU Merit Badge University 2018.
The mobile power lab visited Divine Mercy Catholic Academy for sustainability programming. Read more about the tiny classroom project.
The annual Solar 5K race was held on campus on September 29.
The tiny classroom has been out in the community at stops in Cambria and Somerset County. Read more about the tiny classroom project.
The Institute headed to Clear Creek and Parker Dam State Parks for sustainability fairs. Read more about the tiny classroom project.
Energy Camp: Supercharged! Loretto Edition was held at Saint Francis University in mid-July. Camp participants built wind-powered vehicles, enjoyed s'mores made in a solar cooker, connected circuits, and much more! Robotics Camp joined the Energy Campers to learn about solar energy at the tiny classroom and ate popcorn made in our solar-powered microwave.
The tiny classroom traveled to Energypath at DeSales University on July 26. An open house was held for conference attendees, which included participants from across the country.
Energy Camp: Supercharged! was held at Divine Mercy Catholic Academy, Johnstown. Students participated in three activity-filled days focused on all things energy. A wind turbine experiment was pictured in the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat.
Students in SFU summer camps visited the tiny classroom at SFU.
The tiny classroom visited Quantum Quest Fest 2018 on as well as electrical technology students at the Greater Johnstown Career & Technology Center May 9.
On May 30, the unit traveled to Penn State Energy Days.
The Institute received $30,000 from the
A. J. and Sigismunda Palumbo Charitable Trust for the tiny classroom project. Pictured are representatives from the Palumbo organization along with Institute staff during a check presentation on April 18, in St. Marys, PA.
The tiny classroom began its first big tour throughout the region on April 20, visiting locations in Huntington, Blair, Cambria and Bedford Counties.
Students at Seton LaSalle Catholic High School in Mt. Lebanon, PA, recently published their children’s book, “The Boy, The Bird, and the Turbine”! It can be ordered here. We were glad to host the group in Loretto several months ago to discuss wind energy as part of a field trip.
The Institute's Director, Allison Rohrs, attended the MIT Energy Conference in Boston on March 2 and 3, 2018. Rohrs displayed the Institute's recent research regarding energy development on Pennsylvania public lands at the event’s Energy Showcase, March 2.
Students from Juniata Valley High School visited the tiny classroom on March 16.
Allison Rohrs and Michael Sell were presenters at the Pennsylvania Academy of Science's Alternative Energy Symposium at Indiana University of Pennsylvania on March 24. Allison spoke about the wind industry in Pennsylvania and Michael spoke about sustainability, efficiency, tiny houses and off-grid living.
Allison and Michael served as judges at the 2018 KidWind Challenge held at Penn State University on March 28.
On February 9, 2018, Allison Rohrs and Michael Sell presented “Small Wind Energy Systems for the Farm” at the 2018 Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s annual Farming for the Future Conference in State College. Institute staff discussed the opportunities and challenges associated with installing a small wind system with more than 50 audience members.
Mr. Michael Sell served as a judge at the IU8 Regional STEM Competition in Altoona on February 20.
Students from Seton LaSalle Catholic High School, in Mt. Lebanon, visited campus on February 23, as part of a multi-stop wind energy field trip. Institute staff spoke to the students about developing a wind project and how wind turbines work.
Director Allison Rohrs was interviewed for an NPR StateImpact Pennsylvania segment about wind energy in PA.
Click to listen to the story
Project Coordinator Michael Sell visited students at Glendale High School on January 25 to speak about infrared energy and provide demonstrations with the Institute's thermal camera. He also visited fifth and sixth grade students at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Altoona on January 26 to provide an introductory lesson for a STREAM unit on wind energy. After a short presentation, students experimented with the Institute's model wind turbines.
The Institute's research project about Energy Development on Pennsylvania's Public Lands has been completed.
The Tiny Classroom project was featured on the front page of the December 11 edition of the Altoona Mirror and picked up by the Associated Press, reaching a national audience.
Construction of the Institute's tiny classroom is now complete and the unit is on campus! Local high school students visited the mobile power lab for SFU Science Day.
Read more about our new outreach project.
Students in Allison Rohr's ENGT201/SCI 201 visited the Patton Wind Farm and a solar array installed at A.R Morris, O.D. & Associates in Ebensburg to see renewable energy applications in the field.
Michael Sell visited eighth grade students at Richland High School for Careers in Demand Week. Sell spoke about about solar energy and provided a hands-on activity. Solar photovoltaic installer was recently projected to be the fastest growing occupation in the United States over the next ten years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Michael Sell visited seventh grade students at Richland High School for Careers in Demand Week. Sell spoke about about wind energy and provided a hands-on activity. Wind turbine service technician was recently projected to be the second fastest growing occupation in the United States over the next ten years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Institute exhibited at the Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs, PA from the 15-17, speaking to people from across the state and across the country about various renewable energy technologies.
Solar energy on the farm was the theme of a display the Institute entered at the Hollidaysburg Community Farm Show, from September 18-21.
Mr. Michael Sell visited Goodwill of the Southern Alleghenies to speak with young adults about various energy technologies and possible career opportunities on September 20.
The Institute represented the planet Neptune at the SFU Science Outreach Center's Solar 5K on September 23, at the Loretto campus.
The Institute helped coordinate a Great American Eclipse viewing station at the campus mall clock on August 21 along with the SFU
Science Outreach Center and
Department of Biology. Hundreds turned out for the event! Despite a few clouds from time to time, it was a great experience, as documented by the
WJAC-TV, and the university's
Our tiny classroom project was featured in a back to school article in the
Johnstown Tribune-Democrat on August 19.
Michael Sell visited the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library on August 8 for the second time this summer to speak about solar energy and provide hands-on activities. He was also interviewed by WTAJ-TV!
The Institute is pleased to announce that the Tiny Classroom Big Impact Project is officially underway!
Read more in this official release >The release
received coverage in the Altoona Mirror on July 30.
On July 26, Michael Sell visited the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library to speak about solar energy. He demonstrated a number of ways in which solar energy can be utilized before participants were able to try hands-on activities like lighting a light and running a motor connected to solar panels. The event was part of the "Build a Better World" summer reading program.
Energy Camp: Supercharged! was held at SFU from July 10 to 13. Eleven fourth to sixth graders explored the amazing world of energy during various activities and a field trip to several energy sites. Activities including making energy from mud, testing model wind turbines, driving solar cars, taking core samples, building circuits and much more.
Michael Sell visited the Lily Washington Public Library in Lily, PA to speak about solar energy and provide activities to summer reading program student participants. Children ages three to 10 were able to see solar cars, grasshoppers and other solar powered devices operate in the sunlight.
Michael Sell visited students at Saint Michael School, Loretto, and Clarion Area Elementary School, Clarion, to discuss renewable energy and energy efficiency.
"Two Energy Sprout Winners Have Continued Success" - Read about our REACH webtool (Renewable Energy Assessment Clearing House) in this news release from the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund.
Institute staff attended the THRIVE: Sustainable Economy Summit in Indiana, PA on April 21, 2017, which brought together policymakers, business people, farmers, educators, students and other members of western Pennsylvania communities for a discussion about a sustainable economy. Allison Rohrs served as a speaker on an energy innovators panel. She specifically focused her remarks on the Institute’s Pennsylvania wind maps and how they can be used for assessments. Michael Sell spoke as part of a panel on sustainability education and community engagement.
Allison spoke to students at Penn State University about energy policy on public lands.
Michael spoke to students at Juniata College about renewable energy resources.
Allison and Michael served as judges at the 2017 PA KidWind Challenge.
The Institute participated in the Earth Day Carnival at SFU and an Earth Day event at the Logan Valley Mall, educating community members about energy, providing demonstrations, and promoting the Institute's resources, including our wind maps and assessment programs.
Institute staff attending the kick-off meeting to the Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future project in Harrisburg, PA on March 2. The state organized project aims to increase the amount of electricity generated by solar energy in Pennsylvania to 10 percent by 2030.
Michael Sell visited with students from Portage Area High School, C.W. Longer Elementary School, and Penn-Mont Academy. The Institute was also present at an outreach event at the Logan Valley Mall.
Allison Rohrs and Michael Sell were presenters at the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Region Four Farm Day, held at the Pasquerilla Conference Center in Johnstown on February 16. Institute staff spoke about the implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy systems on the farm as well as possible funding opportunities. The Institute also had a table display to educate the approximately 100 people in attendance.
The Greater Johnstown Water Authority invited Allison Rohrs and Michael Sell to speak at the February 23 meeting of the Cambria County Water Partnership Steering Committee in Johnstown. Institute staff talked about renewable energy opportunities for water authorities. Dr. Joseph Goodwill, Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering and Dalton Mack, a senior Environmental Engineering major, also attended. Institute staff toured the GJWA’s Saltlick Reservoir water treatment plant following the presentation.
Michael Sell attended the Advanced Wood Energy for Schools, Businesses & Communities Workshop organized by the Pennsylvania State Wood Energy Team on February 17. Held in Phillipsburg, PA, the program included a number of presentations on biomass resources and utilization potential. The event concluded with a tour of the West Branch School District’s recently installed biomass boiler, which uses wood chips as its primary source of heating for the school.
Michael Sell spoke at the Patton Public Library about infrared energy and its uses for improving energy efficiency in buildings.
On January 31, Michael Sell attended a meeting of the Pennsylvania Biomass Energy Association in State College, which included updates on the state’s biomass industry and planning of educational events for 2017.
Visits to the Keystone Farm Show and Pennsylvania Farm Show helped staff stay up to date on agricultural issues that can affect farmers and energy projects.
Institute staff gave a presentation on the benefits of infrared technology at the Science Outreach Center’s “Science Cafe: Cosmic Cocktails” event on January 5, 2017. Allison Rohrs and Michael Sell discussed how infrared cameras can be used in a variety of applications, with a focus on building energy assessment scenarios. They demonstrated ways to reducing air leaks and heat loss by showing imagery of locations where insulation could be increased and weatherstripping could be added, among other examples. Michael appeared on WTAJ-TV's Central PA Live to briefly demonstrate infrared technology.
Community members in Blair County were able to learn about wind energy during a presentation by Michael Sell, project coordinator, on December 15, as part of the monthly Cosmic Treats program held at the Hollidaysburg Area Community Library.
Students from area schools visited Saint Francis University as part of Science Day on November 22. The Institute presented "The Power of Wind (and Other Energy Sources)," which was followed by hands-on wind and solar activities - pictured.
As part of PA CareerLink's "Careers in Demand" week, Michael Sell visited Richland High School seventh graders on November 1 to speak about wind energy and provide a hands-on activity with the institute's model wind turbines. Wind turbine technician was ranked as the "fastest growing job in America" by Forbes in April 2016. On November 3, eighth grade students learned about the rapidly growing solar energy industry and participated in a hands-on solar electricity experiment and solar-powered car race. Our activities have been made possible by the PA Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education grants, including a recent $2,710 award for solar energy outreach.
Allison Rohrs, Institute Director, was named a 2016 Women in Energy Leadership
award recipient by the Pittsburgh Business Times!
The Institute presented an exhibit titled "Energy on the Farm" at the 2016 Hollidaysburg Community Farm Show, in Blair County, in mid-September. It was recognized with a second place award in the general agriculture theme division. Visitors were able to learn tips about energy efficiency and renewable energy, including ways to save money on lighting and irrigation as well as different ways to use solar and wind energy on the farm.
Participants in the SFU Science Outreach Center's
Solar 5K race were able to learn about wind energy as they explored the solar system on September 17. The Institute represented the planet Neptune, which is home to the fastest wind speeds in the solar system, over 1,000 mph!
Institute was awarded $3,000 for its third place finish in the statewide Energy Sprout competition held during the Energypath Conference at Penn State University on July 28. The award recognizes the Institute's proposal to develop the REACH interactive online tool, which aims to help Pennsylvanians have a one-stop shop for renewable energy information. Thank you to the Sustainable Energy Fund and West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund for organizing this competition. In addition to the award, Michael Sell attended the Passive House camp and intern Courtney Cruse participated in the Biomass Camp. The Institute also represented the university in the exhibition hall on Thursday and Friday.
Students in grades four to six learned about the amazing world of energy at Energy Camp! Activities included building generators, melting marshmallows with solar energy, experimenting with model wind turbines, building wind powered cars and anemometers, measuring electrical usage and air quality, cookie mining, and more. Participants also saw energy in action during a field trip to local energy sites like the Patton Wind Farm and Prince Gallitzin State Park. Allison Rohrs, director, spoke about her experiences as a wind turbine technician. A concluding activity tasked each child to use their newfound energy knowledge to design their own island, complete with a house and other attractions of their choice, such as a castle, amusement park, stores and more. The students also had to determine how to power their property. Thanks to EverPower Wind Holdings for supporting our program!
Learn more about the Science Outreach Center's summer programs.
June 2016Institute staff toured Pittsburgh's new Energy Innovation Center.
The Institute participated in the semi-finals of the
Energy Sprout community competition, presented by the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund and Sustainable Energy Fund. Our idea was selected to move on to the final round, which will take place at Energypath in July!
The Institute was
awarded $100,000 from the USDA's Rural Energy for America Program to provide individualized assessments for improving energy use to agricultural producers and rural small businesses throughout Pennsylvania. Read
Congressman Bill Shuster's congratulatory message. In addition, the Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund, administered through The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, provided $17,000 matching funds for the project.
Quantum Quest Fest at Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center brought 300 students together to learn about a variety of science topics. The Institute spoke about wind energy and demonstrated how this resource can be used to do work (such as lifting weights) and generate electricity.
The Institute participated in the SFU Science Outreach Center's R-SPACE program for second graders at C.W. Longer Elementary School, Hollidaysburg.
Michael Sell visited students at Saint Michael School, Loretto, and Saint Patrick School, Newry.
Approximately 50 Career and Workforce students in 8th grade at Johnstown Middle School learned about electricity and wind energy production before participating in a hands-on activity. The presentation was a precursor to a trip to the Patton Wind Farm the following day.
Kite Day - Hollidaysburg Area Public Library - Will Hillenbrand, author of Kite Day, was on hand for a PA OneBook program. SFU's R-SPACE provided a planetarium and wind activity and there was also craft activity.
The SFU Earth Day Carnival was held at the JFK Lounge on Tuesday, the 19th. More than 450 were in attendance!
The Institute visited MetLife Johnstown's Earth Fair on Earth Day to educate employees about sustainable topics, like energy use.
Sixth grade students at Penn-Mont Academy spent an April morning learning about wind and solar energy during a presentation and hands-on activities with Michael Sell.
New solar curriculum will be developed thanks to a $2710 grant provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Michael Sell visited fourth grade Girl Scouts in Duncansville to discuss energy efficiency and conduct an audit with them.
Michael Sell served as a judge at the 2016 PA KidWind Challenge. See
A comprehensive review of energy development on Pennsylvania's Public Lands Read the full report [.pdf] View summary and interactive maps
A Listing of farms, locations, number of turbines and moreView the map and table [.pdf]
research page to learn more about our work!
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