Standout Seniors: Meet Michael Gibilterra (Plastics Engineering Technology)

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2022 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Michael Gibilterra

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Major: Plastics Engineering Technology

Hometown: Hershey, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: The Joseph and Isabel Prischak Trustee Scholarship.

On choosing his major: Originally, I came to Behrend for Computer Engineering. But, after getting involved with Innovation Commons (see below), I realized I wanted to do more with 3D printing. In doing that work, I learned that I didn’t have a strong knowledge of what happens to plastics when printing. After talking to some of faculty members, especially Jason Williams, assistant teaching professor of engineering, I switched to Plastics Engineering Technology.

About Innovation Commons: It is an open ideation, product development, and prototyping center staffed by students who help guide innovators and entrepreneurs through the early stages of development. It is open to all entrepreneurs and innovators throughout Erie County and the surrounding region, including students, who are looking for support to organize, collaborate, compose, and construct their ideas.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Becoming the first student volunteer at Innovation Commons.  This is where my entrepreneurial spirit grew and where I learned about starting my own company. I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunities Innovation Commons has created for students.

Campus involvement: I was a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity. I also helped to revive the Entrepreneurship Club and served as president. The club brought in guest speakers, including a variety of entrepreneurs and/or those who support them, and we helped with Penn State Behrend’s Global Entrepreneurship Week activities.

What makes him unique: I can become very focused on a topic, which has been a “superpower” that helps me tackle big problems and led to my ability to develop new products, machines, or designs in a relatively short amount of time.

People would be surprised to know:  That I have autism and it’s one of my biggest strengths. While it has certainly had its hindrances, it has helped me significantly in my professional life and has enabled me to approach problems in a different light.

A printing passion: I have an obsession with 3D printing. It started back in high school when I built my first 3D printer using motors from some CD drives, a microcontroller kit, zip ties, cardboard, and the cheapest 3D doodler pen I could find at the time. I really enjoyed writing the code and then getting to see my creation print. I went on to build myself a 3D printer farm selling 3D printed parts and developing new 3D printers that each solve a different problem.

Advice for first-year students: Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get a deeper understanding. I’ve learned so much by just asking why or how something happens. Also, your professors want you to succeed. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help.

Michael is working to launch his own company, Additive Manufacturing System — a 3D printer manufacturing company that focuses on producing 3D printers, materials, and software for engineering applications in sectors such as aerospace, automotive, and medical.

Standout Seniors: Meet Marie Tomasula (Nursing)

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2022 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Marie Tomasula: 

Marie Tomasula

Major: Nursing

Hometown: Buffalo

Why she chose Behrend: I love the small class sizes, which give you a chance to really get to know the faculty and staff. I fell in love with Behrend as soon as I toured it. I knew it would make a great home away from home.

On choosing Nursing: I have always been passionate about caring for others, especially in medicine. I want to give back like the amazing nurses who have cared for loved ones in my family.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Stepping out of my comfort zone in my personal and academic life. I joined several clubs and organizations and did things that I could never have imagined myself doing before. Behrend has allowed me to grow in ways that I never thought I could.

Campus involvement: Member of Alpha Sigma Alpha and the Student Nurses’ Association Pennsylvania (SNAP), where I’ve held several leadership positions. I served as a Welcome Week guide in my sophomore year.

On being kind: I would say my ability to easily empathize and relate to others makes me unique. I love being able to connect with people and to hear their stories. Making others smile is what makes me happy. I enjoy spreading kindness, especially to those who need it most.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I played the flute for nine years and participated in the New York State Conference All-State Wind Ensemble during my junior year of high school. Playing flute was my “escape” during my high school years.

Her definition of the good life: Living a life that you are proud of. I am a firm believer that our life should consist of things that fulfill us and make us the happiest. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good and do things that feed your soul.

For the kids: I am very passionate about pediatric oncology. I am currently a member of the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer, a collaborative network of nonprofits, corporations, and individuals from 36 states and five countries, supporting and serving the childhood cancer community. We work to help families experience improved outcomes through collaborative projects, optimizing research efforts, and by creating awareness of childhood cancer.

On helping others fight cancer: I’m currently working as a nurse intern on the leukemia unit at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. It has helped me to understand the role of an oncology nurse, and I have loved being able to help patients and their families during a very hard time in their lives.

Advice for first-year students: Step out of your comfort zone. College can be intimidating in your first year, but going to events on campus and getting involved can really transform your entire college experience.

After her graduation in May, Marie plans to work as a Registered Nurse at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo.

Miniature artwork highlights big role of Lilley Library

By Heather Cass, Publications Manager, Penn State Behrend

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When Nancy Loker ’13 received a miniature model, “Sam’s Study,” for Christmas, she thought it looked like her workspace at Penn State Behrend’s John M. Lilley Library. So, when Loker, who works on the circulation desk at Lilley, put the model together, she decided to customize it with tiny details to highlight the services the college’s library provides.

Take a close look at the square-foot model, which is on display in the library now, and you’ll notice some familiar artwork, including a tiny bust of Moritz Behrend, a globe, plants, signage, and many other artifacts that can found in Lilley Library.

“When I could, I used real materials that we use in the library,” Loker said. “The boxes and packing paper in them are bits of materials that we use to ship and receive books. The paper covers on the books are exactly the kind you’ll find on interlibrary loaned books behind the circulation desk.”

There are plenty of bitty books on the model’s shelves to represent the stacks at Behrend, which include reference books, works of fiction, and even a children’s book section for the Elementary and Early Childhood Education majors. But, as anyone who has set foot in a library in the last twenty years knows, libraries are much more than books today. On the shelves, you’ll also find board games, newspapers, video games, movies, puzzles, and more.

A clipboard, markers and a bottle of water are meant to represent the many student workers, who often arrive for work with hydration in hand.

Next to the display is a list of the library’s services that are represented in the model. It’s like a tiny 3-D version of the “Look and Find” puzzle in the beloved Highlights children’s magazine.

Loker’s artwork is a small-scale reminder of the very big role that libraries, and librarians, play in the lives of college students.

This week, April 3-9, is National Library Week and the staff of Lilley Library will be celebrating with several activities, including a Board Game Day to highlight the library’s circulating game collection of games, and a Doodle/Adult Coloring Day to promote the library’s ongoing efforts to encourage students to find ways to relax, including taking study breaks for their mental health.

Additionally, library visitors will find a display of “staff picks”: books, movies, podcasts, games, and other media that help students discover new things, and maybe even connect to a staff member (“Hey, I love Star Trek, too!).

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Standout Seniors: Meet Phoebe Will (Biology)

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2022 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Phoebe Will

Phobe Will1

Major: Biology – Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior option

Hometown: McKean, Pennsylvania

 Scholarships: Aaron Meehl Biology Excellence Scholarship

On choosing Behrend: I thought the campus was gorgeous and really liked that there was wildlife surrounding the campus. Since attending, I’m even happier I chose Behrend because the professors in my program are amazing and have been so much fun to work with!

On choosing her major: I really love working with animals and always knew I wanted to work with them in some capacity, so I thought biology was the best option.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Participating in three years of salamander population dynamics research with professors. I also designed “Amphibian Crossing” signs that were installed on Technology Drive to help protect a lot of different types of amphibians that cross the road each spring from the forest to the spring breeding ponds near the AMIC building.

Campus involvement: I was vice president of Tri-Beta (Biological honors fraternity) for two years and a Resident Assistant for two years.

What makes her unique:  I’m one of only a few biology majors who chose the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior option.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I have twenty-four pets: a dog, three cats, six chickens, two ducks, four axolotls (a type of salamander), a betta fish, five snails, a snake, and a gecko.

And those pets are her passion: I can’t imagine living without them. They’ve made college stress so much easier to deal with.

Advice for first-year students: Do some research on what your options are after college, so you can plan accordingly. You don’t have to know exactly what you’re going to do, but think about your next step and whether you want to find work right away or go onto a master’s program.

After her graduation in May, Phoebe plans to attend graduate school to earn a master’s degree in biology.