#ThrowbackThursday: Engineers in the 1920s and ’30s

(PAW Archives, June 7, 1935)

(PAW Archives, June 7, 1935)

In the summer of 1933, Princeton professor George E. Beggs, above, and Elmer K. Timby made and tested a celluloid scale model of a tower of the Golden Gate Bridge, using a technique that Beggs had invented to test the stress resistance of bridges and other structures. (In the photo, he’s working with a model of the proposed Camden-Philadelphia Tunnel.) Their work attracted nationwide attention, and Beggs’ method has since been used by engineers worldwide.

Engineering, however, did not always take center stage at Princeton. In fact, engineering did not come to Princeton until 1875 — more than a century after the University’s founding in 1746. Until the 1920s, course offerings were limited to civil engineering for undergrads and electrical engineering for graduate students. In a predominantly liberal-arts campus, it seemed, engineering remained on the sidelines.

To bridge the gap between technical training and a liberal-arts education, the University created an “engineering plus” program in 1921. In essence, engineering education was to be liberalized: Undergraduate engineers would be trained in both technical fundamentals as well as cultural and humanistic studies. Fourteen years later, Carlton S. Proctor 1915, a future president of the American Society of Engineers, penned an enthusiastic overview of the program in PAW, calling it “a distinctly Princeton education.”

Tiger of the Week: Roger Nierenberg ’69, a Maestro of Organizational Dynamics

Roger Nierenberg ’69, left. (Courtesy Portfolio Publishing)

Roger Nierenberg ’69, left. (Courtesy Portfolio Publishing)

For nearly two decades, conductor Roger Nierenberg ’69 has used examples from orchestral music to illustrate principles of organizational dynamics that apply in other contexts. Hundreds of companies, in industries ranging from health care to finance, have invited him to conduct his interactive Music Paradigm seminars, which feature live orchestra rehearsals. And Nierenberg continues to find new fans — including music critic James R. Oestreich, who recently reviewed a Music Paradigm session in The New York Times.

Nierenberg, meeting with nursing directors at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, “was making real music and making good sense,” Oestreich wrote, when the conductor began his rehearsal with string players from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He also modeled dysfunctional dynamics, acting aloof or micromanaging, before finishing with a performance that illustrated best practices. A conversation with the nursing directors followed.

Nierenberg, who outlined his program in the 2009 book Maestro, was deeply engaged in music by the time he began his undergraduate years at Princeton, and during his time on campus, he was active in the University Orchestra, the Glee Club, the Opera Club, and the Princeton Chamber Singers. He served as music director of the Stamford (Conn.) Symphony and the Jacksonville Symphony in the 1980s and ’90s before turning his attention to the Music Paradigm program. “I found, somewhat to my astonishment, that it was a very potent business tool,” Nierenberg told PAW in 2002. “It grew slowly, by tiny increments. I, and others, began to discover the power of music as metaphor.” Continue reading

For Engineers, A Hands-On Chance to Design, Serve

Kasturi Shah ’16, center, and Amanda Li ’16 talk with one of EWB’s community partners in La Pitajaya, Peru. (Courtesy Joshua Umansky-Castro ’17)

Kasturi Shah ’16, center, and Amanda Li ’16 talk with one of EWB’s community partners in La Pitajaya, Peru. (Courtesy Joshua Umansky-Castro ’17)

In the summer of 2013, Amanda Li ’16 and Kasturi Shah ’16 walked the hillside path of what would be phase two of a new gravity-fed potable water system for La Pitajaya, a community in the Andean foothills of Peru. The path wasn’t really a path, Li said, and their tools were pretty basic — a 60-meter measuring tape and a handheld GPS device. But Li and Shah, project managers for Princeton’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), got the information they needed to begin their designs.

A year later, after months of planning and more than three weeks of exhausting labor, Shah was racing down the same mountain, doing her best to run faster than the water in the pipes so that she could be at the bottom when it reached the tap stand below. Seeing the project’s completion was cause for cheers and celebration from the Princeton team — six undergraduates and two traveling mentors — as well as the community partners who helped bring the system to life, Shah said.

The Princeton EWB group, founded in 2004, had two summer projects this year: one in Peru and one in Kenya. A third trip, to Sierra Leone, was canceled due to the Ebola outbreak. About 50 students are involved in various phases of the EWB work, but only a handful travel to implement the systems that the teams design. The projects are community-initiated, Li said, and community members play key roles in construction and implementation.

Corrie Kavanaugh ’17, a civil engineering major on the La Pitajaya team, said this summer’s trip — her first with EWB — was a remarkable service experience and an education in practical engineering. “It’s very difficult to actually design something in real life,” Kavanaugh said. “Being part of EWB has given me technical experience that you don’t normally get [in the classroom].”

Below, view photos of the La Pitajaya team, courtesy of Joshua Umansky-Castro ’17. Continue reading

Women’s Volleyball Tops Penn, 3-0, in Ivy Opener

Sarah Daschbach ’16’s serves helped Princeton open the Ivy League season with a win over Penn. (Office of Athletic Communications)

Sarah Daschbach ’16’s serves helped Princeton open the Ivy League season with a win over Penn. (Office of Athletic Communications)

For the last four years, Yale has held an iron grip on first place in Ivy League women’s volleyball. Each Ancient Eight team knows that the key to dethroning the Bulldogs is winning out their other Ivy matches, since Yale has gone undefeated in league play only once in that time.

Add that kind of heavy Ivy pressure to the fact that Princeton’s league opener against Penn has gone deep into the fifth set in each those four years, and the odds start stacking up against the Tigers. But this Friday in Philadelphia, Princeton broke with this tradition and pulled out a quick three-set victory, pulling the team up to 6-5 overall on the season. The 25-15, 25-16, 25-14 win was a much needed confidence booster for the Tigers—it is their only three-set victory this season.

The match didn’t look so bright for Princeton at first. Penn held a 10-8 lead early in the first set, until junior libero Sarah Daschbach embarked on a 10-0 service run to blow the Quakers away. Daschbach’s serves would be critical in the second game as well, when she built up the Tiger lead in an opening 9-0 run.

“Smart and aggressive hits were the key to success,” Daschbach said. She also pointed to junior Kendall Peterkin and sophomore Cara Mattaliano’s offensive skills, saying on the backcourt, “Kendall and Cara are great at hitting from the back row and giving us plenty of offensive options.” Continue reading

States of Desire Revisited: Travels in Gay America by Edmund White

Professor Edmund White

Professor Edmund White

The author: Edmund White is one of the leading chroniclers of gay life in America and a longtime professor of creative writing at Princeton. His new book, States of Desire Revisited: Travels in Gay America, brings back a chronicle of gay life in the United States that was first published in 1980. White is the author of several novels, including the groundbreaking coming-of-age tale A Boy’s Own Story, as well as several memoirs about his life abroad, his many lovers, and his role as a self-described “archaeologist of gossip.”

The book: In a new introduction and afterword, White looks back at the late ’70s, when he traveled the country to explore gay liberation, political activism, and sexual freedom. The book covers San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, but also explores the less public gay life in places such as Kansas City and Memphis. Throughout, White peppers his prose with personal stories and colorful observations, capturing the nuances of gay life just before the AIDS epidemic rocked the community. White’s afterword explores how the Internet has affected gay culture.

White-States-of-Desire-cOpening lines: “Since this book came out in 1980, the world of gays has evolved more quickly than any other in peacetime since the beginning of history. Violence and war have been able to effect sudden and usually disastrous changes, but the changes that occur peacefully are most often slow and sedimentary. In fact this book shows a past world preserved in amber, despite the way that world was full of plans, impregnated by what it imagined was a utopian future.” Continue reading

Behind the Scenes of ‘Red,’ Theatre Intime’s First Fall Production

Ryan Gedrich ’16 as Ken, assistant to the artist Mark Rothko, in Theatre Intime's production of Red. (Aleka Gürel ’15)

Ryan Gedrich ’16 as Ken, assistant to the artist Mark Rothko, in Theatre Intime’s production of Red. (Aleka Gürel ’15)

As a high-school senior, Oge Ude ’16 read as many scripts as she could get her hands on, including one for Red, John Logan’s Tony Award-winning exploration of the abstract painter Mark Rothko. Last fall, Ude proposed a reinterpretation of the play, incorporating music and dance, for her final project in a Princeton theater course, and this week, she’ll bring that vision to the stage in Theatre Intime’s first production of the school year.

Red seemed like a perfect fit for the fall, Ude said, with the Princeton University Art Museum completing its Rothko to Richter exhibition Oct. 5. She cast the play in the spring — John Fairchild ’15 plays Rothko, and Ryan Gedrich ’16 plays Ken, the artist’s assistant — and communicated with cast and crew over the summer via Skype and email. Since returning to campus, the actors and dancers have pursued an intense rehearsal schedule in preparation for the show’s Sept. 26 premiere at Hamilton Murray Theater (show times available here).

Logan’s intriguing, intelligent dialogue about creativity attracted Ude to Red, but she says that the Theatre Intime production aims to be “accessible to all,” highlighting Rothko’s passion as much as his art.

Below, PAW contributor Aleka Gürel ’15 captured behind-the-scenes photos of Ude, Fairchild, and Gedrich during rehearsals of Red. Continue reading