Steinmetz Symposium a celebration of scholarly and artistic pursuits

Ali Khan ’22 began work on a project last summer to help visually impaired people cross the road.

Khan helped develop an iOS application that alerts the user through vibrational notification when they are approaching a crosswalk. Using the phone’s built-in camera and an off-line image-processing model, the app also lets the user know through audio when it is safe to cross by detecting traffic lights.

On Friday morning, Khan shared his research in a classroom of the Integrated Science and Engineering Complex.

“It was fun. I had been looking forward to it,” said Khan, a computer engineering major with a minor in mathematics from Queens, NY President of Union’s Robotics Club, Khan starts a job as a software engineer with JPMorgan Chase after he graduates next month.

Khan was among hundreds of students, faculty and parents who fanned out across campus to celebrate undergraduate research and creativity as part of the 32nd annual Steinmetz Symposium.

It marked the first time since 2019 that the event was held in-person after the pandemic forced the affair to go virtual the past two years.

The all-day event featured a diverse lineup of oral presentations, poster sessions and exhibits highlighting student research as well as dance and musical performances, an art exhibit and other activities.

Following tradition, classes were canceled for the day to allow faculty, staff, students and visiting parents to sample projects in all fields – the arts, humanities, social sciences, sciences and engineering.

A number of presentations touched on familiar themes including race, power and privilege; risking failure to succeed; and COVID.

In a basement classroom in Lippman Hall, Margaret Hayes ’22 discussed how the work hours of different groups were impacted during the pandemic by sex, marital status and parental status.

Working with her advisor, Younghwan Song, professor of economics, Hayes found that work hours decreased most significantly for partnered mothers who did not work from home. The reason, she discovered, was increased childcare needs as their spouses continued working their usual hours.

An economics major from West Sand Lake, NY, Hayes chose COVID as a central topic because “it was a historic event and I wanted to see how it affected different demographic groups.”

In the afternoon, 62 students performed on a stage constructed at the Viniar Athletic Center in the annual Lothridge Festival of Dance. The nearly hour-long show included an array of dance styles featuring choreographies from the Winter Dance Concert by Dance Program Director Miryam Moutillet and Assistant Director of Dance Laurie Zabele Cawley. Student choreographers included Adenike Hickson ’22, Mary Melo ’22, Michela Michielli ’22, Dharshini Suresh ’22 and Zoe Watson ’23.

In addition, the African Dance, Bhangra Union and Hip-Hop clubs and the Union College Dance Team performed.

Steinmetz dance performance

After the performance, the Theater and Dance Department presents the Edward Villella Fellowship for dance to Zoe Watson ’22. She will be pursuing classical dance at the Boston Ballet.

The Steinmetz Symposium Student Art Exhibition filled the Crowell and West galleries in the Feigenbaum Center for Visual Arts with 137 works by 79 students from a wide variety of majors and all class years. Mediums included digital art, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture.

The day wrapped up with a concert featuring the Union College Jazz Ensemble, led by Professor Tim Olsen, in Emerson Auditorium in the Taylor Music Center.

The Steinmetz Symposium is named for Charles Proteus Steinmetz (1865-1923), who taught electrical engineering and applied physics at Union. Also chief consulting engineer for the General Electric Company, he was widely regarded as America’s leading electrical engineer.

The symposium coincides with Prize Day, which begins at 1 pm Saturday in Memorial Chapel. Students are honored for achievement in academics and leadership.

Among the top awards given are the Josephine Daggett Prize to the senior for conduct and character and the Frank Bailey (1885) Prize to the senior who has rendered the greatest service to the College in any field.

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