Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

Believing that children are capable of understanding the inner workings of cyber security at a young age,  Penn Altoona students will produce an interactive workbook for ages eleven to fourteen. It will explain in detail various aspects of Cyber Security featuring real life examples and games to explain how Cyber Security works. The workbook will be a mobile application available on the Android platform, created using IBM Bluemix. The overall goal is to have each student sign in under an individual user ID and complete different levels of the workbook.


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September is traditionally “Back-to-School” month in the United States.  For those who’ve already completed their early years of education, August is the time for heading off to dormitories and beginning the advanced, more focused portion of their academic pursuits.  The education sector is taking on new challenges as it proposes to address new methods for preparing a workforce for the future – which will involve a great deal of technology focused initiatives.  Take a look at this company and their achievements to bring superior skills to the student population…


Young Digital Planet


receives the



New Technology Leader


2015 award


The aim of the New Technology Leader program is to distinguish and promote companies that deliver innovative, high-quality solutions and invest in new technologies to address today’s customers’ needs.

Young Digital Planet is a part of Sanoma Learning – one of Europe’s leading learning companies and providers of print and digital learning solutions for primary, secondary and vocational education with over 1,600 employees. They cover all dimensions of education:

  • educational content – different subjects, curricula and language courses
  • delivery platforms, e-learning and publishing technologies – flexible solutions for everyday use,
  • products that support children and adults with special educational needs at schools and medical institutions.


Visit their full website by clicking the logo  Young Digital Planet

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SFSP is supporting the Yale Future Energy Club in the Solar Decathlon competition – building a net-0 impact house powered by solar energy alone.

A multi-disciplinary team will apply skills learned in their respective majors:  Mechanical Engineering, Electric Engineering, Geology and Geophysics, Architecture, Economics.  GOOD LUCK TEAM

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August 24th, 2015

Congrats to

Flow Photoreactor as a Tool for Scale-­up of Energy Efficient Polymerizations  (Jordan Theriot)

Advanced Visible-light Polymerizations as a New 3D Printing Platform  (Matthew Ryan)

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¿Cachai? It means, Do you get it?, or Do you understand? A phrase often used with foreigners, who quite often, don’t understand, as our Engineers and Scientists Abroad group found out. The Spanish in Chile is different than many other Spanish-speaking countries, full of abbreviations, run-together words, and slang. Nevertheless it was beautiful, as is the culture of Chile, as our Engineers and Scientists Abroad chapter learned after a recent service trip to Chile, during which we provided infrastructure improvements to the Vocations for Orphans nonprofit and learned to somewhat understand the culture of this beautiful country.


The Location

Casa Montaña is located in the Valle de Elqui (Elqui Valley) in the Coquimbo region of Chile. The economy of the area is predominantly agriculture-based, with grapes, lemons, wine and a local liquor called pisco being major products in the area. The project site was nestled up in the gorgeous Andes Mountains, about 12 miles away from the small town of Vicuña.

Casa Montana

Casa Montaña (R. Beck 2015)


The Team

Six engineering students from the South Dakota School of Mines volunteered their time and expertise to making the trip a success. Each student was able to bring valuable skills and expertise to the project team.


Enjoying some empanadas (small pastries stuffed with a savory filling) (A. Schifres 2015)

From left to right:

Sawyer – Mechanical engineering

Colby – Mechanical Engineering

Andrew – Civil Engineering

Gary – Geological Engineering and Mechanical Engineering

Rika – Environmental and Chemical Engineering

Alexis – Chemical Engineering


The Tasks

1. Pour a concrete pad for a water storage tank.


Colby with the freshly-poured concrete pad.

2. Install a water storage tank to increase the capacity of Vocation for Orphans Water System.

Installed Tank

Our installed tank. (A. Schifres, 2015)

 3. Build a retaining wall to protect the tank from erosion.

Retaining Wall

Tank with finished retaining wall. (C. Harris, 2015)

4. Remove and replace the water source intake.

Digging out intake

First, we diverted the water and dug out the old intake. (C. Harris, 2015)

 New intake pipe

Then, we installed the new intake pipe. (C. Harris 2015)

Finished intake

Finally, we covered the new pipe with gravel and larger rocks to protect it. (C. Harris, 2015)

5. Other tasks – the team took care of many other tasks on the project site, including:

         – Painting the source piping to protect it from the elements

- Changing the battery in the vehicle

-Winterizing buildings

Team photo

The team at the conclusion of the project! (Pictured with hosts Annette and Dale.)


The Culture

When all the hard work was done, we also got to experience Chilean culture with a trip to the nearby city of La Serena. We saw the sights, ate fresh seafood, empanadas, and papayas; and bought souvenirs at the local markets.

Chile Market

Artisanal market in La Serena (C. Harris 2015)

Chile lighthouse

Lighthouse of La Serena (R. Beck 2015)

Fish market

Fish market in the port of Coquimbo (C. Harris, 2015)


Port of Coquimbo (R. Beck, 2015)

What We Learned

Our project was enriching for the whole group. We gained valuable experience putting our engineering knowledge into use in the real world. We also got to appreciate the amazing culture and scenery of the country of Chile, while serving others other with our talents.


ESA acknowledges the time and talents of the project team, Dr. Thomas Fontaine, Dale Boe, and Annette Scifres; our partner nonprofit, Vocations for Orphans; and the financial support of Rotary International and IBM (Students for a Smarter Planet Grant).

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