By, Kelsey Mattson
Innovation grants were awarded this Monday May 1 for the 2017-2018 academic year. Grants were given in an array of areas on campus, including residence buildings, the arts, and community leadership.
All grants were made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which started the Innovation Grant program in 2010.
Five proposals were awarded, of the dozens that applied, and equal a total of $100,000. Each of these innovation grants will improve a different aspect of campus life and quality for the current generation of students, faculty, staff, and for future generations.
“Cooking Up Savings,” the grant awarded to Melissa Miller and Bruce Streeter at Facilities Operations, will implement 28 Smartburners, new stove technology, in residence halls on campus. The stoves are built to prevent harmful kitchen fires that often occur in college residences due to user error. “What this technology does is limit the heating capacity of the coils so that it never gets hotter than 350 degrees,” says Ryan Kmetz, grant writer and the Assistant Director of Sustainability & Energy Management at Facilities Operations.
Not only are these Smartburners safer, but they are more energy efficient as well.
“There’s a microchip inside the burner that will consistently turn it off if it gets too hot, and since it’s cast iron, it’ll hold the heat well,” explains Kmetz. “Instead of like a fan, being on all the time, it cycles, which is going to end up saving electricity also.”
The plan is to install as many Smartburners as the $5,000 grant will supply, starting in theme houses and eventually spreading to every residence kitchen on campus. Smartburners will keep students safer, save electricity, and maintain longevity. In addition to these assets, the Smartburners are made in Buffalo, New York, keeping manufacturing in Upstate New York.
Student Robert Baird ’17 and Professor David Henderson of the Music Department have also received a grant to improve the group practice space located in the Arts Annex. The grant will include sound amplification equipment and a small, portable stage for performance use in the Arts Annex.
The Arts Annex has been working to enhance this space for the past three years in hopes of getting more students to utilize it in musical endeavors. “I’ve always loved playing music in this house, but gear has kind of moved in and out,” says Robert, theme house coordinator for the Arts Annex and president of the Performing Arts Collective. “It hasn’t been fair to people that don’t have the opportunity to use live sound equipment.”
With this grant money, the Arts Annex will be able to supply live sound equipment for students and make musical performances more accessible to a larger portion of the community. In addition to live sound equipment, the portable stage will also encourage students to perform.
“The implementation of the stage will also help us to promote student performance events in the common space of our theme house, which has been a mission of ours this year,” explains Robert.
St. Lawrence University faculty, staff, and students are fortunate to have the ability to apply for innovation grants. Gear up for these improvements around campus next year, and start thinking of ways you can enhance our school!