Engaging Through Education

Mentoring Tomorrow’s Business Leaders.

Meet Young Entrepreneur Matthew S. Turcotte ’14, CEO of North Shore Solutions and full-time Clarkson student. Turcotte, 19, of Clayton, N.Y., is the first student to participate in Clarkson University’s Young Entrepreneur Award program.

A business owner since he was a junior in high school, Matthew is now growing his Web development firm while earning his degree in innovation and entrepreneurship as a full-time student in the School of Business.

Turcotte started North Shore Solutions when he was a junior in high school to provide Web design and hosting services to local businesses in his hometown.

As a Young Entrepreneur Award recipient, Turcotte has office space on campus, in addition to the mentorship. He is able to plow what would have been his out-of-pocket tuition expenses into his business and is currently expanding his base of customers.

“It has been exciting to work with Matthew and help him grow his young business,” says Marc Compeau, director of the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship and Turcotte’s faculty mentor.

Turcotte has also been matched with two Clarkson alumni mentors and successful entrepreneurs: Marty Roesch ’92, founder and chief technology officer of Sourcefire (NASDAQ: FIRE), and John Zdanowski ’89, co-founder and CFO of PixelFish, Inc. the leading provider of online video advertisements for local businesses.

Supporting Academic Excellence.

A generous gift from an alumni couple has enabled Clarkson to create an endowed professorship in physics.

The Karel K. Czanderna ’77 and W. Dan Shirkey ’80 Professorship in Physics was created to ensure excellence in research, student advising, teaching

and service within the Department of Physics.

The daughter of Alvin Czanderna, a physics faculty member at Clarkson from 1965 to 1978, Karel Czanderna received her bachelor’s degree in physics at Clarkson in 1977. She holds a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Cornell University.

Dan Shirkey has a bachelor’s degree in physics, which he earned at SUNY Brockport. He also holds a master’s degree, which he completed at Clarkson in 1980. He later earned an MBA at Cornell.

“Our motivation for creating this professorship comes from our experience as students with outstanding professors in the Physics Department,” says Czanderna, vice chair of the Clarkson Board of Trustees. “For me it was Prof. Herb Helbig. He was always busy with his research and course teaching. Yet, he was very accessible to students. And of course, my dad was a wonderful faculty role model for me.”

Shirkey agrees that his experience at Clarkson with Professor Peter McNulty was a pivotal factor in his decision to invest in current physics faculty. “Dr. McNulty was a brilliant researcher who also was an unsurpassed thesis advisor. He helped open doors and created opportunities for students entering their professional lives,” says Shirkey.

I, Robot.

Students with robot at competitionFor the fifth straight year in a row, robots and their human handlers invaded the Clarkson campus for the annual FIRST Championship Tournament.

More than 400 students and their coaches participated in the two-day event. Teams travelled from schools as far away as western New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The participants competed with robots that they designed, engineered and programmed to navigate autonomously with sensors, manipulate small objects and travel over uneven surfaces.

The tournament is sponsored by the Northern New York Robotics Institute (NNRI), a local higher education consortium, founded in 2007 by Clarkson Electrical & Computer Engineering Professor James Carroll.

Carroll sees robotics programs as a hook to get students, teachers, administrators and parents excited about the hands-on use of technology in their school districts.

“I was fortunate growing up because my father, an electrical engineer at General Electric’s Corporate Research and Development Center, exposed me to a wide variety of concepts and technologies in fun and engaging ways that led to my own pursuit of a career in electrical engineering,” says Carroll. “Many students in this region do not have access to these sorts of experiences and, as a result, have a limited view of engineering and technology. Fortunately, robots are an ideal platform for K-12 students to directly experience Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) concepts in a highly engaging and hands-on manner.”

Engaging Community Through Service

Ensuring the future of small-town life.

Steve and Pam YugartisMost days, Associate Professor of Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering Steve Yurgartis ’79 (ME) is in the classroom or in his laboratory engaged in research related to composite materials.

When he isn’t on the Clarkson campus, Yurgartis can probably be found downtown at the village government offices. About six years ago he volunteered to serve on the village planning board. Before long he was urged to take a seat on the board of trustees. And now, as the newly elected mayor of the Village of Potsdam, Yurgartis continues his commitment to preserve and improve the quality of village life.

But he assumes leadership of this close-knit community at a challenging time as rising costs and dwindling revenues put great pressure on local governments.

Like most villages in New York, the village operates within the Town of Potsdam, which results in a two-tiered government structure with village residents assuming costs for services at both the village and town levels. Voters recently rejected a referendum calling for village dissolution by a wide margin. But the challenges remain.

Still, Yurgartis is not deterred. “Once you get started in community service it quickly becomes apparent how much of what we love about our communities depends on the efforts of ordinary folks doing their share. And with a community as wonderful as Potsdam, how can you resist?”

Designing an economic roadmap for northern New York.

This summer, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched the North Country Regional Economic Development Council in an effort to redesign the relationship between the state government and businesses to stimulate regional economic development and create jobs statewide.

The goal is to align state resources and policies, eliminate unnecessary barriers to growth and prosperity, and streamline the delivery of government services and programs to help Regional Councils across New York carry out their plans for development.

Congressman Paul Tonko and President Tony CollinsClarkson President Tony Collins was tapped by Gov. Cuomo to co-chair the council (with Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce) that will coordinate the economic development of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. 

In November, the Council released a strategic plan, “Transformational: Leading the Economic Renaissance of New York’s Small Cities and Rural Communities,” which focuses on strategies to spur job creation and regional economic growth.

Putting “science before politics” in Washington.

U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko ’71 is serving his second term in Congress representing the 21st District of New York.

In October, Tonko was named as the Ranking Member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight.

As the top Democrat on the subcommittee, Congressman Tonko will serve in a leadership role for the panel, which has investigation and oversight powers over any actions of the full Science, Space and Technology Committee.

“It is my goal to ensure that the programs and initiatives that drive technology, innovation and clean energy are done in a way that is focused on making investments and creating the jobs that will drive the economy forward,” said Congressman Tonko. “I look forward to my new role as a watchdog to ensure we put the next generation ahead of the next election — and science before politics. Tonko also serves as a member of the Budget Committee, where he works to promote investments that create jobs and grow the economy.

In July, Tonko was honored with Clarkson’s Golden Knight Award, the University’s most prestigious alumni award.

Engaging Through Leadership

Influencing the American economy.

Amy E. CastronovaUniversity Trustee Amy E. Castronova ’04 (E&M) was honored at the White House in November for her accomplishments as an entrepreneur and her positive influence on the American economy.

The entrepreneur, who is president and CEO of Novatek Communications Inc. in Rochester, N.Y., spoke at a ceremony during which the Empact100 list of the country’s top young entrepreneurs were recognized.

The Empact100 list was created by Empact, in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, Opportunity International, Global Entrepreneurship Week, and the Startup America Partnership. The 100 companies on the list are responsible for contributing over 2,500 jobs and over $374 million in revenue.

Castronova’s own journey as an entrepreneur began as a 20-year-old sophomore at Clarkson, when she purchased Novatek Communications, a successful technical writing and training company, following the death of her mother who founded the company in 1989.

Today, Novatek Communications employs 35 people in the Rochester area. The company provides technical documentation and training solutions to companies in the medical, technology and hospitality industries worldwide.

In 2006, Castronova was named an Up and Coming Business Woman in Rochester. In 2007, the Rochester Women Presidents Organization named her a Rising Star, and in 2008, she was the recipient of the Young Entrepreneur Champion of the Year awards at the district, state and regional levels from the U.S. Small Business Association. ✦