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Clarkson Students Team Up With Profs, Alcoa In Experiential Learning Program

[A photo for newspaper use is available at]

A group of Clarkson University students recently joined representatives from Alcoa’s Massena plant for the fourth annual meeting of the Experiential Learning Program. 

The year-long program provides juniors in engineering and business with the opportunity to participate in engineering and business projects at the plant, culminating in student presentations of their work to their advisers, mentors and supporters. The 1999 Edition of the Alcoa Experiential Learning Program

Student interns were involved in projects including the design and installation of a supervisory control and data acquisition system, the development and installation of safety gates and column guards, the development of a lifting device for a 35 ton container, network upgrade with improved access, and a Y2K audit and contingency plan.

Participants in the 1999 program were Ron J. Alleyne ’00 (computer engineering, Brooklyn, N.Y.); John M. Filler, Jr. ‘00 (mechanical engineering, Potsdam, N.Y.); Sherene A. McDonald ’00 (interdisciplinary engineering and management, Potsdam, N.Y.); Christopher J. Prosonic ’00 (electrical engineering, Norwood, N.Y.) and Chad Smutzer ’00 (mechanical engineering, Almond, N.Y.).

Each student was teamed up with both an Alcoa mentor and a Clarkson faculty member throughout the year.  The five students were advised by professors Thomas H. Ortmeyer (Electrical and Computer Engineering), M. Sathyamoorthy (chair, Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering), Robert A. Meyer (Electrical and Computer Engineering), and Mark J. Cornett (Interdisciplinary Engineering & Management), and mentored by Alcoa’s Walter Brockway, David Polarolo, Richard Wickwire, Karl Cunningham, Barb Vickers and Bryan Murphy.

Initiated in 1995 as the brainchild of Ortmeyer and Cunningham, the first cohort was made up of one electrical engineering student, but has since grown to include students majoring in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer engineering, interdisciplinary engineering & management, environmental engineering and management information systems.

The program year runs from January of the participants’ junior year through December.  Applicants are evaluated by the Clarkson advisers and Alcoa mentors on the basis on their resumes and interviews.

The Alcoa Experiential Learning Program is part of Clarkson University’s SPEED Program (Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design), which promotes project-based learning opportunities through fourteen project activities including FIRST Robotics, the Formula SAE Racing Car, and Partners in Engineering. The Alcoa Foundation is one of the partners supporting the entire SPEED program.

For more information about the Alcoa Experiential Learning Program, contact Thomas Ortmeyer, at 315-268-6536 or by e-mail at  For more information about the SPEED Program, contact the Program Director Tina C. Yuille at 315-268-7976 or

PHOTO CAPTION: The students, professors and officials who made up the 1999 edition of the Alcoa Experiential Learning Program. Back row: Thomas Ortmeyer, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering; M. Sathyamoorthy, chair of the Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Department; Dave Polarolo, Alcoa; Richard Wickwire, Alcoa; Karl Cunningham, Alcoa; Mark Cornett, Interdisciplinary Engineering & Management; Robert Meyer, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Bryan Murphy, Alcoa. Front row: Clarkson students Chad Smutzer, John Filler Jr., Sherene McDonald, Ron Alleyene and Christopher Prosonic.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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