St. Olaf College

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A private liberal arts college of the Lutheran church in Minnesota
Updated: 1 hour 6 min ago

Using a semester off the Hill to gain hands-on business experience

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 4:15pm

Camille Morley ’15 is getting hands-on business experience through a co-op program at Johnson & Johnson.

While many of us know Johnson & Johnson for its baby lotion, Band-Aids, and Listerine, Camille Morley ‘15  is getting a behind-the-scenes look at the company through its co-op program.

Morley began working as the company’s distribution administration co-op — a full-time, multi-term position similar to an internship — this summer. She is taking this fall semester off to continue her work through the program, which she says is designed to “give students hands-on experience and training in supply-chain strategy, management, and logistics.”

Working at Johnson & Johnson’s distribution center outside of Indianapolis has enabled Morley to explore different sectors of the business — from improvements in packing supplies to working on reports about inventory of products, transportation, business costs, and other metrics. She has also participated in collaborative round-table training sessions between co-ops and supervisors.

“I’ve been fortunate to learn so many skills and business proficiencies from my supervisors and colleagues in such a condensed time period,” Morley says.

Through the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career, Morley arranged to receive academic credit for her job at Johnson & Johnson. She worked with St. Olaf Entrepreneur in Residence Sian Muir to bring an academic framework to her experience.

As part of the college’s commitment to supporting students as they navigate potential career paths, the Piper Center offers numerous resources to help students secure internships that will enrich their studies and help them hone their professional skills. Last year 151 students earned academic credit for their internships. In addition to providing students with the ability to register their internships for academic credit, the Piper Center offers students funding for unpaid or underpaid internships.

Morley’s position at Johnson & Johnson has given her the chance to channel the broad concepts she’s studying as an economics major at St. Olaf into technical and realistic applications. “My courses have taught me how to think analytically, look at the bigger picture, and communicate effectively when examining the specifics of a particular business challenge,” Morley says.

One of Morley’s many co-op projects is a customer evaluation project in which she looks at top customers’ ordering trends and identifies and fills unused space in trailers and pallets through communication with the customers. This process has taught her about “value-adding,” an element that, along with “lean processes,” is critical in the world of business.

“I am very impressed with Camille’s willingness to get out of her comfort zone to pursue an internship with a Fortune 50 company in supply chain management. It is a testament to her drive and proactive nature,” Muir says.

Morley’s post-graduation plans are not yet determined, but she would like to continue her work in supply chain and eventually pursue a master’s degree in business administration.

“This job has definitely given me a chance to figure out what sort of industry positions I’d like to pursue,” she says.

Categories: Colleges

Percy authors Batman story for Detective Comics

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 3:50pm

St. Olaf College Writer in Residence Benjamin Percy has begun writing for Detective Comics, the comic book best known for introducing the superhero Batman. The first part of Percy’s first storyline for the comic book, a two-issue arc called Terminal, will be published on October 1 — and features the Caped Crusader himself.

“I grew up a comics nerd. I remain a comics nerd,” says Percy. “I’ve been trying to break in for several years and finally got a pitch accepted by Mark Doyle at Detective Comics. Writing Terminal might be the most fun I’ve ever had at the keyboard.”

Published by DC Comics and the source of its name, Detective Comics is the longest continuously published comic book in the United States. Batman appeared for the first time in 1939, and has since become one of the most popular superheroes of all time and an American cultural icon.

“When writing about a character like Batman — someone whose story has been told thousands of times — I of course tipped my hat to the mythology while also wanting to make him my own,” Percy says. “Mine is sort of a riff off Frank Miller’s aged Batman in The Dark Knight Returns.”

Percy worked with artist JP Leon on Terminal, which will be published in issues #35 and #36 of Detective Comics.

“The story concerns a ghost plane that lands at Gotham International Airport,” says Percy. “A quarantine might not be enough to contain what Batman finds on board.”

Percy is also the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Wilding and Red Moon, both of which he is currently developing for the screen, as well as two books of short fiction. He serves as a contributing editor for Esquire, and his work has been published by GQ, Time, Men’s Journal, Outside, The Wall Street Journal, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and Tin House. His third novel, The Dead Lands, will be available April 2015.


Categories: Colleges

Mayo Clinic internship provides up-close look at world of medicine

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 10:10am

Nicki Youngberg ’15 at Mayo Clinic’s Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center, where she interned this summer.

Many St. Olaf College students pursue internships as a way of discerning their future career paths. But for Nicki Youngberg ’15, an internship at Mayo Clinic’s Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center (DAHLC) affirmed the ideas she already had about life after St. Olaf.

“I have always had a passion to help others and have always known that I want to go home at the end of my day knowing I made an impact on someone’s life,” says Youngberg. “Health and wellness have been ingrained in my lifestyle since I was young, and studying abroad in Denmark — one of the healthiest countries in the world — through a St. Olaf program last semester further solidified my desire to help people on their journey to wellness.”

This summer Youngberg worked as the worksite wellness intern in the DAHLC, an innovate branch of Mayo Clinic that provides state-of-the-art resources and programs to help patients enjoy a positive lifestyle that incorporates the best practices of exercise and nutrition. Mayo Clinic, which is distinguished by its emphasis on integrated care, research, and education, is widely regarded as one of the best medical practices in the world.

Through the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career, Youngberg arranged to receive academic credit for her internship, and she worked with Associate Professor of Exercise Science and Volleyball Head Coach Cindy Book to bring an academic framework to her experience.

As part of St. Olaf’s commitment to supporting students as they navigate potential career paths, the Piper Center offers numerous resources to help students secure internships that will enrich their studies and help them hone their professional skills. Last year 151 students earned academic credit for their internships. In addition to providing students with the ability to register their internships for academic credit, the Piper Center offers students funding for unpaid or underpaid internships.

Creating a culture of healthy living
During her internship, Youngberg worked to administer health programs at the Mayo Clinic that create a culture of healthy living in the workplace.

“It was busy!” Youngberg says. “I helped develop and enhance the DAHLC worksite wellness social media sites, provided presentations to different work groups on various aspects of wellness, developed population-based wellness campaigns, maintained all of the resources for the Wellness Champion Program, and worked on many different committees that promote wellness in the Mayo and Rochester community.”

Youngberg says that because of her internship, she now knows with certainty that she wants to pursue a career in health care.

“I had the opportunity to shadow multiple people working in the health care system, and the fast-paced environment is exciting and challenging,” she says.

Finding a new perspective on wellness
Her internship also enabled Youngberg to attend the Mayo Clinic’s Holistic Wellness Conference, which featured Dr. Henry C. Emmons, a consulting psychiatrist at St. Olaf’s counseling center, as a speaker.

Youngberg says the conference, which aimed to show the role of body, mind, and spirit in health and wellness, made her realize that though Western medicine is not to be disregarded, it is not the “end-all-cure-all.”

At the end of her internship, Youngberg helped organize and run the Mayo Clinic Healthy Human Race Weekend, a combined half-marathon and expo event dedicated to preventative wellness and health. The expo featured such guest speakers as Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, and eight-time Olympic speed skating medalist Apolo Ohno.

“From these experiences I really honed in on the type of work I like,” Youngberg says. “Being able to walk away from the internship knowing what kind of work I enjoy, the kind of individuals I want to interact with on a day to day basis, and the environment I thrive in is a great place to be at the beginning of my senior year.”

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf Choir television special wins two regional Emmy awards

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 9:13am

A television broadcast of the St. Olaf Choir’s most recent performance in the 950-year-old Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway, has won two regional Emmy awards.

PBS aired the one-hour television special, Christmas in Norway with the St. Olaf Choir, as part of last year’s holiday programming. Produced by Twin Cities Public Television, the program was filmed during the St. Olaf Choir’s 2013 tour of Norway.

Nidarosdomens Jentekor, the resident girls choir from the cathedral, joined the St. Olaf Choir and conductor Anton Armstrong ’78 in the performance.

Christmas in Norway with the St. Olaf Choir won the 2014 Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award for Special Event Coverage. Armstrong served as artistic director and conductor for the special; St. Olaf Manager of Music Organizations Bob Johnson served as production/concert manager; and St. Olaf Director of Broadcast/Media Services Jeff O’Donnell ’02 served as audio producer.

The television special also won an Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award for the work of its director, Phillip Byrd.

Christmas in Norway with the St. Olaf Choir will be rebroadcast nationally this year December 19 and 20.

Categories: Colleges

English professor authors book on indie rock band Cloud Cult

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 8:38am

A new book by St. Olaf College Professor of English Mark Allister chronicles the career of Cloud Cult, a Minnesota-grown indie rock band that has often been called “the most idealistic and least cynical” in the country.

The book, Chasing the Light: The Cloud Cult Story, traces the band’s rise to critical acclaim. Allister describes Cloud Cult’s unique philosophy and principles, including how lead singer and songwriter Craig Minowa created a zero-carbon footprint for the band’s recording and touring well before sustainable practices became mainstream.

Chasing the Light also details the band’s defining moments, beginning with the death of Craig and Connie Minowa’s two-year-old son and the hundreds of songs that grew out of the tragic loss.

“Cloud Cult’s story engages some of the great issues of any time: How do we overcome loss and move through grieving? How do we understand human life through the frameworks of spirituality, of life and death? How do we create positive messages through art? How do we spread love? Readers of the book will, I believe, contemplate such issues through the band’s story,” Allister says.

“I’d like to see readers come away with a renewed sense of hope that doing good in the world is possible, and that despair can be turned to affirmation.”

In addition to English, Allister also teaches environmental studies and American studies at St. Olaf. He hosts a weekly radio show on KSTO called Prof Rock with Mark Allister.

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf welcomes Class of 2018

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 1:48pm

St. Olaf College recently welcomed the Class of 2018 — a talented, diverse group of 775 first-year students from 458 high schools in 45 states and 32 countries.

They include 130 domestic students of color and 68 international students, as well as 25 Davis United World College Scholars (the most the college has ever enrolled in a single class).

Most of these new Oles — 56 percent — hail from outside of Minnesota. The class also includes 10 students who were admitted last year and deferred, spending a gap year studying in places like Russia, China, Nepal, Wyoming, New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, and Laos, or — in one case — playing junior hockey in Canada.

And while these numbers provide some insight into the incoming class, each new group of students is more than just a compilation of statistics and figures. The Class of 2018 also includes:

  • One student who already has a licensed computer game with Yahoo
  • Six students who have a black belt in a martial art
  • One student who appeared in an episode of the Beverly Hills, 90210 remake
  • Two sets of twins

“I’m thrilled to welcome the Class of 2018 to campus,” says Vice President for Enrollment and College Relations Michael Kyle ’85. “They are energetic, dynamic, and accomplished. I very much look forward to watching them grow and develop as Oles — they are already making their mark on our community, and that is exciting for all of us to see.”

Watch a video of members of the Class of 2018 settling in on campus:
Categories: Colleges

Students team with tech company to study the physics of friction

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 2:48pm

This summer Associate Professor of Physics Brian Borovsky ’94 (right) and student researchers Lucas Sletten ’15 and Emily Johnson ’16 used a machine called a probe-quartz resonator apparatus to simulate the amount of friction that is created when very small contacts rub at high speeds — a technique used by only a few other research groups in the world.

This summer a team of researchers at St. Olaf College partnered with hard disk drive manufacturing company Western Digital to investigate the underpinnings of friction at the molecular and even atomic level.

The project, part of the college’s Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) program, was led by Associate Professor of Physics and Department Chair Brian Borovsky ’94.

Along with student researchers Lucas Sletten ’15 and Emily Johnson ’16, Borovsky worked with Western Digital to research ways of minimizing the impact of friction on micromachines.

“Micromechanics and even nanomechanics is a broad area of technology that is in a developmental phase right now,” Borovsky says. “There are certain kinds of micromachines that are now ubiquitous, and they’re around us every day even if we don’t know it.”

“Like the accelerometer in your smartphone,” Sletten adds, “or in the motion sensors that trigger the airbags in your car.”

But, Borovsky explains, accelerometers are relatively simple machines, with few moving parts that rub together. In order to build more complex micromachines, friction — or rather, the wear that it causes — is still a significant obstacle to be overcome.

“There has been no micromachine commercialized that allows for rubbing contacts,” he says. “Those tend to be very high friction, very high wear, and the machines don’t tend to last more than a day or two on the bench.”

Bridging the gap between theory and practicality
In larger-scale mechanics, mitigating the effects of friction is as simple as ensuring that the machine is well lubricated. But when the scale is measured in micrometers or even nanometers and space is at a premium, there simply isn’t enough room for a traditional lubricant.

To find a way around this design problem, companies like Western Digital are researching experimental lubricants that can efficiently minimize the effects of friction even when only the thickness of a single molecule. This summer Borovsky and his students worked to test the different experimental lubricants that Western Digital has been developing for its hard drives.

“Hard disk drive manufacturers are at a key point in their technology where they have gotten them to be so small and have so much data on them by reducing the distance between the reader and the disk,” Borovsky says. “But they’re at this key point where they can’t get much closer without actually starting to rub the reader against the disk. Yet they may need to do that if they’re going to compete with other memory storage technologies, like flash storage. So they’re seriously trying to figure out, ‘How do I get a fraction of a nanometer closer?’ Every fraction of a nanometer can really count for a competitive industry like this.”

In this summer’s research project, the St. Olaf team used a machine called a probe-quartz resonator apparatus to simulate the amount of friction that is created when very small contacts rub at high speeds — a technique used by only a few other research groups in the world. This enabled them not only to test the different lubricants being developed by Western Digital, but also to collect data that may lead to a greater understanding of the way friction works on such small scales, bridging the gap between theory and practicality.

“Ever since the modern study of friction began in the 1980s, researchers have been revealing surprising ways in which the simple laws of friction for everyday objects fail to describe the physics of ultra-small machines,” Borovsky says.

This is because, he explains, when an object is small enough, nearly all of its atoms are on the surface. With relatively few atoms stored inside, the machine has almost no bulk (inertia and cohesive strength) that could allow it to withstand the destructive effects of surface forces. Machines this small simply don’t behave the way much bigger objects do, and this creates an opportunity for scientific understanding to help guide the development of new technologies.

Paving the way for future research
The results of this summer’s work are promising, Borovsky says.

“We’ve had an excellent summer in the lab,” he says. “We upgraded our equipment for improved ease of use. Lucas and Emily automated our data acquisition scheme, and now we see data coming in faster than ever. More data means better statistics and ultimately better science. The first fruits of all this is a very large data set on the frictional behavior of two hard drive coatings provided by Western Digital.”

Borovsky says that although the experimental lubricants showed high levels of friction, they did exhibit less friction per area than uncoated control surfaces. The group’s next step, he says, is to use the frictional data they gathered to find ways of modifying the lubricants to cut down on friction even more.

“We are at the beginning of our collaborative effort here,” Borovsky says, “and it will be interesting to see how hard drive technology develops to stay competitive with other high-density storage media in the future.”

Categories: Colleges

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