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 21, 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 23, 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. This year, we also introduced a special reduced-price NWA membership offer which was a huge hit.
The first Friday night of the semester (August 26) marked the date of the traditional PSUBAMS Night at the Ballpark. PSUBAMS officers, members, and our advisor enjoyed a great night of baseball and beautiful weather!
Early in September, we held an informational meeting for the National Weather Association Annual Meeting and Student Conference in Birmingham, AL. This year marked the first year that PSUBAMS funded members to attend this conference, and PSUBAMS selected 8 students to attend the conference. On September 20, PSU Alum and GEMS Board Member, Erik Pytlak spoke to our members. Pytlak talked about his job at the Bonneville Power Administration in Portland, OR, his experiences as the former SOO at the NWS Office in Tucson, AZ, and about making the transition to the energy business.
October was a busy month for PSUBAMS. We started out with an internship recap meeting on the 4th where members shared short presentations about internships, research, and other activities they completed over the summer with the rest of the organization.
Then, in the middle of the month, eight PSUBAMS members attended the National Weather Association Annual Meeting and Student Conference in Birmingham, AL. The attendees formed strong connections with NWA officials and students from other universities across the country and also had the opportunity to see some of the damage from the April 2011 tornado outbreak firsthand. Following the conference, on October 25, the attendees reported their experiences to the PSUBAMS masses.
The PSUBAMS Community Outreach division rounded out the month by helping out at State College’s Discovery Space Museum grand opening on Saturday, October 22. The museum consists of a collection of educational exhibits, including a meteorology one donated by the university. The exhibit consists of a mini tornado machine, a mock flood table, a weather observing system, and some other neat interactive items. PSUBAMS members were on hand to showcase some of the exhibit’s items and answer any questions viewers had.
On November 8, PSUBAMS hosted a Grad School Meeting. This meeting was a great way for members to learn more about applying to grad school. Our very own Dr. Verlinde covered the basics of how to apply and what we should be doing to prepare and answered any questions members had.
Then, in the middle of the month, PSUBAMS had the honor of hosting two esteemed speakers in one week! First, on November 14, Dr. Louis Uccellini, the Director of NCEP, spoke about Extending Forecast Skill for Winter Storms. He discussed how the forecasting process has advanced and how forecasts are now directly communicated to decision makers. The following evening, Mike Eckert, a Senior Branch forecaster at HPC, gave PSUBAMS a broad overview of what the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center does. The National Weather Association was a huge help in making these visits possible.
During the month of November, PSUBAMS and the other Meteorology organizations also began making plans to attend the 2012 American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting and Student Conference by selected members to attend and making hotel and airfare reservations.
While our members were busy finishing up their fall semesters, our Community Outreach division was also busy sharing their weather knowledge. On December 2, PSUBAMS members used SKYPE to give a presentation on the weather for underprivileged children at Newell Elementary School in Charlotte, NC, and directly interacted with them, fielding questions and conducting video demonstrations. It was extremely beneficial for both ends, separated by hundreds of miles, to share weather lessons online.
The majority 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 43 students to travel to New Orleans for the weeklong conference. In addition, several others students attended to present research or to act as student assistants 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 helped students learn more about higher education and job opportunities within the field.
On February 6, all three Meteorology organizations held the annual Penn State AMS Debriefing. All Penn State students who attended the 93nd AMS National Meeting in New Orleans 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 meeting was beneficial in allowing members to share what they learned with others who were not able to attend the conference.
The Community Outreach division was once again hard at work on February 25. This time, members traveled to Ferguson Township Elementary School and participated in their “Donuts for Dad” event. There, members fielded weather-related questions and conducted demonstrations for students. This was extremely beneficial to both groups as students learned more about meteorology and our members had the opportunity to share knowledge face-to-face.
PSUBAMS wrapped up the month with another speaker on February 28. Bill Murtagh, the Program Coordinator at the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado spoke to the group about one of the newer fields in meteorology, Space Weather. His visit allowed members to learn more about this fast-growing, in-demand program.
March’s primary focus was the 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.
Our busy April started out with two visits from well-known local meteorologists. On April 3, Rich Grumm, the Science and Operations Officer (SOO) at the State College NWS office discussed the science behind the recent heat wave. Rich is a familiar face at the department’s map discussions, and posed an interesting question on what classifies a heat wave.
Then, on April 10, Elliot Abrams, AccuWeather’s Chief Forecaster and Senior Vice President, presented a unique talk entitled “How Weather Affected the American Revolution”. He discussed how weather played a key role in some of the Patriots’ decisive victories and perhaps even caused the revolutionaries to win the war.
Finally, for our last speaker of the year, on April 17 Brian Bittner, the Director of Emergency Management at Penn State conducted a Q&A session with our members. He covered Penn State’s status as a StormReady community, what the university’s plan is in the event of a tornado emergency, and how weather affects game-day decisions at Beaver Stadium.
The PSUBAMS Community Outreach division remained active right up to the end of the semester, participating in Arbor Day in the Arboretum on the last day of classes, April 27. Arbor Day in the Arboretum (a celebration of Earth Day) is an event for around 600 4th graders from the State College School District to learn more about the earth. Members hosted a weather demonstrations stand and fielded weather questions.
The end of April closed the book on the eventful 2011-12 academic year for PSUBAMS, and signaled time for the election of next year’s Executive Board. 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 2012-13 officers the best of luck! Thank you for a great year!
-Written by Elyse Colbert (PSUBAMS Secretary, 2011-12)