The academic year started early for PSUBAMS in 2010-11, as representatives were on hand to assist in the celebration of the Penn State Department of Meteorology’s 75th Anniversary. The executive board were on hand to present a poster and discuss recent developments in the organization with alumni of the club and former Penn State faculty, including Dr. Greg Forbes and Dr. Al Blackadar.
The Anniversary celebration also provided unprecedented demand for Penn State Meteorology merchandise, and in August, PSUBAMS conducted its first-ever shipments of merchandise to customers across the country. Our merchandise is now available online and available for delivery!
PSUBAMS officers were on hand along with representatives from the other meteorology clubs to participate in the orientation for new students in the department on August 22, the day before the fall semester began. This included a meet and greet with students arriving at University Park from other Penn State Commonwealth Campuses, followed by a brief presentation for all new incoming students.
On August 26, PSUBAMS held its first official general meeting of the year, which included free food, an introduction of the organization and its officers, and a sign-up for new members. The meeting was a tremendous success, with over 100 attendees.
The first Friday night of the semester (August 27) marked the date of the traditional PSUBAMS Night at the Ballpark. This year, about 60 members gathered on a beautiful summer evening to cheer on the State College Spikes (minor league affiliate of baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates) as they took on the Batavia Muckdogs. Attendees were lucky enough to see an entertaining argument and ejection of the Spikes’ manager, which was subsequently broadcast nationally on ESPN and CNN! It was a terrific evening for all who attended, and a perfect way to wrap up the first week of the school year!
Planning began early for the 2011 AMS National Meeting. PSUBAMS had a major role in the coordination of the Penn State contingency’s travel and funding, and the month of September was primarily dedicated to the preliminary stages of the event. On September 13, PSUBAMS hosted a meeting called the “AMS National Meeting Primer,” where the basics of the conference were communicated to those interested in attending. In addition to free pizza, members who attended previous meetings in Atlanta and Phoenix went over their experiences and what to expect this year, while PSUBAMS officers explained the application and selection procedure, and also proposed possible group trips in Seattle.
The start of October marked the beginning of historic developments for PSUBAMS. With funding from AccuWeather, PSUBAMS was able to fund two officers to attend the National Weather Association Annual Meeting and Student Conference in Tucson, AZ. The attendees formed strong connections with NWA officials and students from other universities across the country, and reported their experiences to the PSUBAMS masses in a meeting on October 21. It was also at this meeting where the executive board announced plans to form a partnership with the NWA, following the successful meeting in the desert. Members voted to approve a movement to officially transition into a joint AMS-NWA chapter.
On October 28, PSUBAMS hosted one of its first Skype sessions, where the guest speaker presented and took questions via webcam. This meeting featured the Internet sensation Nick Kosir, more commonly known as “The Rapping Weatherman,” who has gained popularity for his ability to present his forecast in rap form on local news broadcasts in Beaumont, Texas. Kosir answered questions about his career path and his inspiration, in addition to his son’s aptitude to rap at such a young age.
The annual PSUBAMS photo contest was held in November, and following a large amount of entries, the winning photos were selected and published in the 2011 PSUBAMS desk calendar. The calendar is a favorite, especially among the department’s faculty.
November 12 featured two separate events sponsored by PSUBAMS. First, the Community Outreach program conducted a visit to the Ferguson Township Elementary School to teach the children interesting facts about weather in a fun and attention-grabbing manner. Then, the evening wrapped up with the first PSUBAMS Night at the Volleyball Game, where members gathered to cheer on the defending National Champion Penn State Women’s Volleyball team at historic Rec Hall. The group was able to see the action up close and personal with front row seats as the Nittany Lions defeated Wisconsin, 3-0.
December kicked off with the annual PSU Meteorology Winterfest celebration in the Joel N. Myers Weather Center. PSUBAMS was on hand to unveil the first-ever Penn State Meteorology sweatshirt, which was warmly received by students, faculty, and staff.
Finally, the fall semester wrapped up with a Thursday evening meeting featuring the legendary Dr. Charles Hosler. Dr. Hosler was among the first recipients of a meteorology degree at Penn State, and is a former department head, professor of meteorology, scholarship donor, and namesake of the Hosler Building. Following a showing of a brief video recapping the department’s 75 years, the floor was turned over for Dr. Hosler, who shared entertaining stories about being a meteorology student in the 1950s, being one of the first television meteorologists, and even escaping from foreign custody. The audience especially enjoyed his impromptu mesoscale meteorology lesson about why thunderstorms tend to weaken over Happy Valley. We are fortunate to have such great minds like Dr. Hosler so willing to remain involved with the student body here at Penn State.
The spring 2011 semester began with the announcement of the winning design of the 2011 PSUBAMS t-shirt design contest. The winning design featured the PSUBAMS slogan, “The ‘P’ is Silent”, along with a screen print of a surface map and the phrase, “Raising the Millibar.” The shirt was printed in both traditional navy blue and, for the first time, pink.
The remainder of January was dedicated to the planning of the AMS National Meeting. Between Penn State’s three main meteorology clubs, enough funding was secured for 36 students (both undergraduate and graduate) to travel to Seattle for the weeklong conference, in addition to several others who attended to present research of act as a student assistant for the AMS. The students attended the annual Student Conference as well as the proceedings for the rest of the week, including the Graduate School Fair and Career Fair, which provided useful to several juniors and seniors whose career paths became clearer after meeting with university and company representatives.
February 3 marked the annual Penn State AMS Debriefing, sponsored by PSUBAMS. All Penn State students who attended the 92nd AMS National Meeting in Seattle were required to prepare a one-slide presentation and share it in an open meeting, discussing their thoughts and experiences from the conference, in addition to what they gained from the trip. This was a very successful meeting, and portions of some speeches were featured in the local PSU-produced Weather or Not television show.
The busy February continued for PSUBAMS with another meeting the very next week, this time featuring Ron Gird, the Director of the National Weather Service Education and Outreach Program, and free pizza, of course. Mr. Gird, a proud Penn State graduate, characterized his talk as a “fireside chat” about NWS employment opportunities, including some unconventional career paths such as within the NOAA Education Program. He also spoke about the controversial changes to the SCEP program and fielded general questions about employment within NOAA and NWS.
Once again, it was a short break for PSUBAMS officers, as the Community Outreach division conducted two of its first Skype school visits. PSUBAMS members gave a presentation on the weather for underprivileged children at Newell Elementary School in Charlotte, NC, and directly interacted with them, fielding questions and sharing their favorite weather stories. It was extremely beneficial for both ends, separated by hundreds of miles, to share weather lessons online.
The busy month ended with the annual College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Exposition (EMEX). As always, PSUBAMS representatives were on hand to discuss the weather and Penn State Meteorology as a whole with prospective students visiting from several states. Some events included tours of the department, a panel question and answer period, and personal meet-and-greet at the PSUBAMS table. EMEX is always a great way to show off PSU Meteorology to high school juniors and seniors, and current students enjoy interacting with the potential next class of meteorologists.
March was primarily used as a period to prepare PSUBAMS for its status as a joint AMS-NWA Chapter. Although there were no official general meetings, the Executive Board was hard at work all month working with both the AMS and NWA to update the PSUBAMS Constitution and introduce NWA bylaws. The new, modernized Constitution was ratified in mid-March and approved by the national NWA Executive Director in early April. On April 6, PSUBAMS proudly announced official recognition as the Alpha-Tau Student Chapter of the NWA, officially being renamed the Penn State University Branch of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. For the sake of tradition and familiarity, however, it was decided that the organization would remain known as “PSUBAMS.” The new affiliation with NWA will provide new opportunities for Penn State members to interact with professionals and apply for scholarships. The joint affiliation with the national AMS and NWA cements PSUBAMS as one of the premier professional student chapters in the country.
The PSUBAMS Community Outreach division remained active in April, completing a school visit at the Panorama Elementary School just outside State College, PA, and meeting with a local Girl Scout troop. The girls toured the department and learned about how to forecast the weather, helping them earn their meteorology badges.
April also featured the most high-profile event of the year for PSUBAMS. With support from the department and the NWA, PSUBAMS was able to welcome Bill Read, the Director of the National Hurricane Center. Mr. Read met with faculty and staff, including Department Head Dr. William Brune, and then spoke about his career and advancements in hurricane forecasting, among other topics. The large audience included members of the local National Weather Service office, AccuWeather, Penn State faculty, and local media. It was an extremely successful evening, with many audience members remaining afterward to talk with Mr. Read. PSUBAMS presented Mr. Read with a Penn State Meteorology t-shirt and a package of world-famous sticky buns from the State College Diner.
The morning after the meeting, Mr. Read stuck around to better enjoy his stay at Penn State. PSUBAMS officers provided him with a personal tour of the department and organized a small meeting between Mr. Read and about 10 students interested in tropical meteorology. Finally, Mr. Read conducted interviews for the statewide weather television program, Weather World, before returning to Miami. Mr. Read called his stay “a grand experience,” and it can be described similarly from the PSU student perspective!
The end of April closed the book on the eventful 2010-11 academic year for PSUBAMS, and signaled time for the election of the 2011-12 Executive Board. In yet another first, the elections were conducted online during the day on April 26. The outgoing officers will meet with the new executives, who will undoubtedly continue the success and advancements made this year. The outgoing officers would like to thank the entire PSUBAMS community, the AMS, and the NWA, and wish the 2011-12 officers the best of luck! Thank you for a great year!
-Written by Matt Mahalik (PSUBAMS Secretary, 2010-11)