Park Blocks: Fall 2012
Author: Kathryn Kirkland
Posted: September 4, 2012

Celebrating 40 years of child care

IN 1972, student mothers staged a sit-in in the PSU president’s office to demand on-campus child care. They got it. This year, the Helen Gordon Child Development Center celebrates 40 years of providing low-cost care for children from 4 months to 6 years old. The center operates as an academic laboratory for the Graduate School of Education. “It really improved my life. It gave me a foundation as I grew older, knowing how to be a good student, a good person,” says student Bennett Okello, who was a child at the center in 1987 when his parents were students and who has a son going there now.

Paralympic competitor

JEN ARMBRUSTER, coordinator of inclusive recreation in PSU’s Campus Rec facility, was in London competing in the recent Paralympic Games, which are held in conjunction with the Olympics every four years. Totally blind since the age of 17, Armbruster is a member of the world champion U.S. women’s goalball team. Goalball was specifically designed for sight-impaired athletes (the mask evens the field). Armbruster coordinates goalball games at PSU, as well as wheelchair basketball, and ski, kayak, and hiking trips for people with disabilities. Results in: The U.S. women's goalball team entered the 2012 Paralymics Games as the defending champions. They won their games against Sweden and Australia but lost to China in a quarterfinal game on September 5. Japan eventually took the gold.

Coastal buzz

FINDINGS OF elevated caffeine levels in ocean waters off the Oregon Coast have surprised PSU environmental scientists because of their location. Waters off Coos Bay and Astoria showed very little caffeine, but the study found high caffeine levels near Carl Washburne State Park (Florence) and Cape Lookout. The results suggest that septic tanks, such as those used at state parks, may be less effective at containing pollutants then city waste water treatment plants. Unfortunately even miniscule levels of caffeine can affect marine life.

Internationally renowned

IVAN SUTHERLAND, a scientist in the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science, received the 2012 Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology for his lifetime of work in computer graphics. The Kyoto Prize is Japan’s highest private award for global achievement and comes with a gift of 50 million yen or $630,000. Sutherland, 74, was years ahead of his time in 1963 when he developed an early version of the graphical user interface. He joined Portland State in 2009 as a visiting scientist, starting the Asynchronous Research Center with his wife, Marly Roncken. 

A prize for ingenuity

FOUR ENGINEERING STUDENTS beat teams from MIT, UC Berkeley and other top engineering schools to win first place in the inaugural Cornell Cup USA. Seniors Thang Duy Vo, Anh Viet Ngo, Hoa Van Nguyen and Hung Minh Nguyen, who came to PSU through the Intel Vietnam Scholars Program, designed a prescription drug identification device. Cornell Cup USA, presented by Intel, is a new college-level competition that invites students to design and construct innovative applications for specific tasks.