Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Aurora Borealis

Posted by Serena

If you spend a winter in Fairbanks, it is almost a guarantee that you will witness the northern lights. The northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, are a natural phenomenon that light up the midnight sky with stellar colors.

What exactly is the aurora?

The northern lights originate on the surface of the sun when a cloud of gaseous particles are injected into space and carried by the solar wind. It takes nearly three days for the mass of gasses to arrive to the earth. As it nears the earth’s atmosphere, it collides with the earth’s magnetic field. When these electrically charged particles enter the magnetic field, they generate currents towards the north and south magnetic poles. The lights tend to band around the magnetic pole and the larger amount of charged particles means the bigger the band around the pole. As the band of particles begins to grow in size around the magnetic north pole, the further south the majestic northern lights can be spotted.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute is a great resource if one is interested in viewing the northern lights because they publish an Aurora Forecast every day.


On Friday, September 26th the forecast was “Active”. Looking out my dorm window on campus, I could see dancing green bands overhead so I decided to go aurora hunting, armed with my camera. I haven’t had much experience photographing the Aurora but I did not leave disappointed! 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Student Jobs and Where to Find Them

Posted by Kayleen

Thinking back, I remember when I was getting ready to come to the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I knew I'd need a job while I went to school, but I just couldn't figure out where to go. It seemed like I would have to wait in order to apply for jobs, and that I would be better off finding one off campus. Boy was I wrong. It turns out that UAF has a phenomenal Career Services office, and their website is super easy to navigate. There's also the option to check out UAK Jobs, where you can actually find and apply to on campus jobs. Some people definitely prefer to get off campus for work--if you're already spending all your class time on campus, it feels good to get away--but on campus jobs are a great option if you're looking to save gas and work around your schedule as a student. 

I held an off campus job my second semester here at UAF. Though I enjoyed the work, it was hard to balance 5 classes on campus, 20 hours of work off campus, and living in the opposite direction as my job. The following semester, I decided to look at my options on campus. I'm so glad I did! I ended up being hired as a Student Assistant to a Dean, which has resulted in making some fantastic connections, a really fun work environment, and the ability to fit in work around my class schedule. Now, instead of only being able to work when I'm done for the day, I can work in between classes, and get home before 5pm. Before, I wasn't even able to start work before 5pm! Whenever I have a block of time over 45 minutes, I can come into work, get what I need to do done, and then head right back to class. They're even happy to give me some time off if I ever need extra study time. 

Next March will mark my second full year of working in this office. It's been such a fantastic experience. But what's even better about on campus jobs is that not all of them stick you in an office. If you love to shovel snow, there's a student job for that. If you're interested in a career in law enforcement, you can find a job at the Police Department on campus. If you have a burning desire to do research, there are many Research Assistant positions waiting to be filled. There are also many more that I'm not mentioning, as well.  

In summary, UAF has some great options for employment, and if you're not sure where to start, go towww.uaf.edu/career or call Career Services at (907) 474-7596. They're super friendly and always willing to help.  If you want to know what having a student job is like, don't hesitate to ask! 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Zombies! Humans! Nerf Guns! OH MY!

Posted by Tiana

The third annual Humans v. Zombies game at UAF has come a little early this year. While it’s usually held in the spring, the Mod. Squad has decided that separating the snow and ice from running would be a better idea.

Set to begin on September 28 and finish with a big finale on October 4, Humans v. Zombies is keeping its usual week-long game and will only be happening once a year.

Humans are required to keep an orange cloth in between their shoulder and elbow to signify that they are humans, and zombies are required to wear orange cloth around their heads. The game is played by beginning with a set number of Original Zombies (or OZs for short) who do not have to wear headbands for the first 24 hours of game-play. Humans are encouraged to play out in the open so that the infection can be simulated successfully.

In order to turn a human into a zombie, a zombie must make physical contact with a human, much like the simple tap in a game of tag. The humans must then give their Human Identification Number to the zombie so that the zombie may input the tag into hvzsource, signifying that they have fed. If a zombie goes without feeding (i.e., getting a tag) for 48 hours, then the zombie will be turned into a corpse and will no longer be able to play. Thankfully, when getting a tag, you are able to share your feed with up to 2 other people.

Of course humans have a way to defend themselves from zombies, and that is by carrying around unmodified Nerf Guns, using marshmallow guns, or clean, balled up socks. While zombies do not die by being hit with these “weapons”, they are stunned for 15 minutes in standard game-play, or for 5 minutes in mission game-play, giving the human plenty of time to escape to safety.

Special missions that award prizes and power-ups happen every day for both human and zombie enjoyment. Of these power-ups you will find cures (turning zombies back to humans), stem-packs (making a tag not count), and the Witch upgrade (a Witch is a third-party that goes after both humans and zombies).

The players of HvZ have helped build it into not only a fun game, but a successful Residence Life program. In its first year, HvZ was awarded April Program of the Month, as well as Program of the Year. The game, played by just under 300 students in the past two years, has the purpose of getting students out and about campus to have fun, run around, and gain a sense of community amongst themselves. At the end of each game, a celebration known as the Apocalypse Party will be held in the Hess Rec. Center at MBS, this year on October 5.

Registration began on September 17, and tables will be held on Monday and Friday from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm, and on Wednesday from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. All tables will be held at the MBS Lobby on upper campus.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer 2014 Inside Out!

Sometimes the process of getting to know colleges and figuring out which school is "the one" can feel like an impossible task. Especially on top of a high school student's already busy schedule! However, UAF provides a fun-filled day of tours and activities, aimed at helping to answer to your toughest college questions. Discover UAF: Inside Out is a great way to get to know the UAF campus and our admissions process. By attending Inside Out, students get to meet staff and faculty from all over campus, and will be guided through the necessary steps to apply and enroll as a UAF student. This is also a family event, so bring your parents because we will have information and activities just for them!

This free event is happening Friday, June 27th, 2014 from 8:00 am to 3:15 pm! Be sure to register in advance! Registration closes Monday, June 23rd at 1:00pm.

Register Here!

Already admitted to UAF? We will be having on the spot registration to finish up any last minute to-dos before courses begin this fall. We are so excited to have you as apart of Nanook Nation!

The schedule for the day will include:

8:00 a.m. - 8:40 a.m. - Check-in and registration (Murie Lobby)
Come in and enjoy a light breakfast while checking in. Meet UAF’s schools and colleges to find out about some of our exciting degree programs.

8:40 a.m. - Welcome (Murie Auditorium)
Inspiration starts here. Find out the details of your day and what it’s like to be a part of Nanook Nation.

9:15 a.m. - STUDENTS: Mock Classes (Various Locations)
Catch a glimpse of what the classroom experience is like at UAF in a class taught by one of our distinguished faculty.

9:15 a.m. - PARENTS: Transitioning to College (Murie Building)
Every year millions of parents send their children off to college. This panel answers your questions about how we can work together to best support your child.

10:15 a.m. - Walking tours (Murie lobby)
Pack your comfortable shoes. This walking tour will take you through residence life, academic buildings and recreational facilities.
Accommodations are available for individuals with mobility challenges.

11:45 a.m. - 1:45 p.m. - Choose Your Own Schedule
There are many options in college. Use this time to create your own schedule and check out a few of our inspiring opportunities, services and places:
On Your Own:
  • Lunch (Lola Tilly Commons) - Enjoy a buffet lunch at our campus dining hall.
  • Study away session 1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. (Wood Center C, D, E, F) - Learn more about the many ways UAF students can study away – either internationally or within the U.S.
  • Honors House (520 Copper Lane) - Drop by the Honors House to learn about both the Honors Program and the Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activities (URSA) programs.
  • URSA (Bunnell Building) - Visit URSA, our Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activities. Learn about research opportunities you can become involved with as an student.
  • Bookstore (Constitution Hall) - Take a break to check out the apparel in the bookstore. While there, learn about the different options for renting or buying textbooks.
  • Safety first! (Whitaker Building) - Visit the Whitaker Building - home of the UAF Police Station, the University Fire Department, University Health and Counseling and Disability Services.
  • Rural Student Services (Brooks Building) - Stop by to find out more on how RSS supports Alaska Native and rural students.
  • Student Support Services (514 Gruening Building) - Learn about scholarships, advising and resources available for first generation college students, limited-income college students and/or students with disabilities.

1:15 p.m. -1:45 p.m. - Shuttles will be running from lower campus Wood Center bus stop to Murie Building

2:00 p.m. - STUDENTS: UAF student panel (Murie Building) 
Student Ambassadors will answer your questions about why they chose UAF and what it’s really like to be a college student.

2:00 p.m. - PARENTS: Taking care of business panel (Murie Building)
Representatives from the offices of Admissions and the Registrar, Financial Aid, Residence Life, Student Support Services and the Office of the Bursar will de-mystify the details of successfully navigating the first year of college.

2:45 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. - Reception (Murie lobby)
Enjoy some refreshments while you take a picture with the Nook!

For more details click here!

Whether you are already admitted or just beginning to think about college, UAF's Inside Out has something for everyone. We can't wait to have you on campus and introduce you to our world and show you that when you are apart of Nanook Nation, you are apart of something bigger!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Collegiate Wind Turbine Competition in Las Vegas

Posted by Bruce

Hey guys!
I haven't posted a blog post in a while, but I hope you enjoy this read.

Over the year, UAF's engineering students have been involved in a collegiate wind turbine competition that had been started for the first time this year by the Department of Energy (DOE). The team consisted of 8 Mechanical, 2 Electrical, and 1 Business student. This whole project started first by the Mechanical Engineering Professor Rorik Peterson. He had heard about this project and applied to participate. DOE had only 10 Universities participate in this event in which we were fortunate to be one of them. One of the reasons we were chosen is because of our climate and characteristics of our State.

The picture above is a photo of our wind turbine team, "The Blades of Glory". We had first thought of "Breaking Wind" as our team name, but had to change due to some issue.

The picture above is a photo of our electrical components mounted to our generator.

The above picture is our fully built wind turbine getting ready to be test run in Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Conference Room. This room literally reminds me of a huge airplane manufacturing building.

 Here is another picture of our turbine in which this has another electrical component that got attached. If you look closer you can see that electrical tape is all over our turbine, and we had good reasons for this. Trust me... I'm an Engineer.
Here is another photo showing the front of the turbine and the blades with a cone. The blades were 3D printed with AVS 3D printing material. At first we were not building the blades to withstand high wind speeds and it would explode! The operating turbine would spin dangerously in which one can imagine its power being compared to a high powered rifle.

Right now as I am making this blog post, we are attending the turbine competition in Vegas. We are very fortunate to have all of the team members participate and help each other to finish this project. I encourage students to participate in cool projects like these if you ever get to hear about them because you learn a lot through experience.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Majestic Ice Arch

by Valerie

Charles Bunnell enjoys winter with a snowy friend. Photo by Valerie Schleich

One thing everyone talks about when referencing UAF is the weather. We live in Fairbanks, Alaska, so it makes sense that such an extreme part of our lives are always also on the tip of our tongue. Whether a seasoned Alaskan or a recent transplant experiencing 40 below for the first time, the extreme weather provides a ton of fun and unique opportunities at UAF.

Sorry about the finger in the picture, but this is the 2014 Ice Arch in all its glory. Photo by Valerie Schleich
 One of the coolest winter things that happen on campus is the annual construction of the UAF Ice Arch. Every year, UAF engineering students enter their design to the Ice Arch competition. Each contestant needs to submit calculations on the proposal to show that the ice arch will be stable and buildable. The winning design is chosen and a team works on constructing the design from the ground up! The Ice Arch sits in the circle of flags, in front of the engineering buildings on campus. They're beautiful!
2014 Ice Arch designed by Andy Chamberlain. Photo by Denali Critchett
Because each year is a new competition, with fresh engineers, the ice arches change dramatically from year to year. Engineering students experiment with architecture, building materials, and construction techniques. Here's a photo of the 2012 Ice Arch:

Denali heads to class with the 2012 ice arch in the background. Photo by Marina Critchett
The 2013 Ice Arch was made of Pykrete, a mixture of sawdust and water. The result is a more structurally sound building material. It looks a little different than pure ice!
2013 Ice Arch designed by Ryan Cudo. Photo by Todd Paris
To see more pictures of Ice Arches through the years, you can look at ASCE's website. ASCE sponsors the construction of the Ice Arch each year.

The Ice Arch adds a lot of beauty to the campus, especially in the frigid months. The competition is such a cool, student-run project!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Undergraduate Research: Much More Than A Lab

by Nicole

I'm taking this post to deviate a bit from my usual theme of dorm life. Dorm life provides a good base for exploration for students on campus; having their living quarters so close to their academics allows for residents to branch easily in campus activities while minimizing the horrors of transportation costs (or the frigid weather, in most cases). These activities include athletics, clubs and student organizations, and (the one I am going to develop here today), undergraduate research.

UAF prides itself on a strong hands-on approach to learning both in and out of the classroom. The tough environment and consistent challenges mean that students often have to get creative in order to succeed; a good example of this is a sight we often highlight on our campus tours: the steel drivers displayed in the Duckering building, home to the College of Engineering and Mines. These drivers represent the struggle to reconcile the will of man and the tenacity of the Alaskan landscape, especially the tundra. In attempt to drill into permafrost, these once gargantuan towers of steel became malleable as paper cups. The drivers crushed into themselves, unable to pierce the permafrost surface. It would have appeared that the tundra had won; far from the libraries and laboratories that had once served as resources, these researchers had to find a solution on their own. Eventually they did, by changing their methods to allow the tips of the drivers to freeze into the permafrost before proceeding. This mindset characterizes what UAF hopes to inspire in its students: the idea that the unconventional and the creative solutions can often be what jettisons progress. Innovation is both a tradition and a necessity to this campus.

This is the section where I hoped to convey all the different projects being developed on campus, but even as I write this I know, were I to list every single one, the compiled list would be an absolute tome. Projects are in constant development, being mulled, being planned, or are currently in progress. The extensive facilities and limitless projects allow for innumerable research topics to be explored. These locations include:

  • the agricultural farm just off campus, testing various crops and methods for Alaskan conditions
  • the viral laboratory examining pathogens
  • the bottom floor of the campus museum—this floor is lined with laboratories continually in action, including archeology, ornithology, entomology, and paleontology (just to name a few)
  • Reichardt chemistry, geology, and physics laboratories
  • pathology, wildlife, botany, and fisheries labs in O'Neill and Arctic Health Research Center
  • and more!

I've dipped my own toe into these waters, and now have the quirkiest, dirtiest, and helpful memories that I've gathered from my college career. I've spliced hundreds upon hundreds of seedlings to incur their growth; I've mixed chemicals like ingredients in a recipe; I've measured and identified fish samples taken straight from the mouths of puffins (for the record—they don't smell any better fourteen years later); I've scrubbed an ancient skull (from a dinosaur whose name I still can't seem to pronounce) with a toothbrush until it gleamed. Most of the time I've stumbled into these opportunities, and they've given me valuable experience that have prepared me for my career after graduation.
A frilled-dinosaur nose bone, scrubbed clean with a toothbrush and Vinac-ed until it shines!

This is what a squid looks like after being frozen for 14 years. He's still lookin' beautiful!

 I would recommend anyone with the drive or purely the curiosity to investigate this opportunity to themselves. There's a niche for anyone willing to try and eager to learn, no matter the level of experience or class ranking.