• Summer Reading Picks What will you choose to read during your summer downtime? Pennsylvania College of Technology faculty and staff members offer some of their favorites.
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  • Involved and Inspired Lester Loner, '74, met celebrities and earned international honors during his 22 years of volunteer work with Special Olympics, but those experiences hold no candle to the inspiration that is ignited by the athletes.
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  • Three Generations of Women in Technology Women remain a minority in many tech-related careers, but they were present in "nontraditional" majors at the institution in its earliest days. Read about three who made an impact in the workplace.
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  • SMART Start Trying to reverse the trend of teen girls losing interest in math and science and opting for less challenging courses, which could ultimately close them out of rewarding technology careers, Penn College connects with SMART Girls.
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  • Growing Enthusiasm Three recent graduates pursue their passions to the delight of more than 850,000 who each year visit Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square.
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  • Can you share a story that describes what is happening here – or describe a memory that the photo inspires in you?
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Trinity Episcopal Church The clock's original bevel gear Synchronizing the four clock dials The chimes returned at Trinity Episcopal Church in Williamsport after Jim Zerfing, the church clock's longtime caretaker, and students from Pennsylvania College of Technology climbed 100 feet up the clock tower's narrow stairs to replace parts that had fallen into disrepair. Under the direction of Zerfing and Keith H. English, instructor of machine tool technology/automated manufacturing, students enrolled in manufacturing-related majors remade the gear shafts that hold the minute hand on each of the 135-year-old clock's four dials, made a duplicate bevel gear and helped to install a new motor. View all the clock photos.

Twittering Fagus grandifolia, The Great Beech in the Woods with a Story to Tell

The smooth, steel-gray bark of a giant beech tree in the woods at the Schneebeli Earth Science Center was once a favorite canvas among students. Photo by Cindy D. Meixel
The tree, near the entrance of the Witch Hazel Nature Trails, holds the names of hundreds who have passed it. Photo by Cindy D. Meixel
Tree carvings – arborglyphs – have recorded important names and dates in world history. Many are now preserved in museums. Photo by Cindy D. Meixel
Is your name on the giant beech tree? Add your comment. Photo by Cindy D. Meixel

There is a great and giant Beech tree in the woods near Allenwood. It holds a trail of names of those before us at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Schneebeli Earth Science Center.  The trail is unknown. Who were those who came before and felt the urge to tweet?

Arborglyphs are carvings on trees that record names, dates, images, even poetry and prose. Beech, birch and aspen have traditionally been the trees of choice, preferred by most “artists.” These species’ smooth bark and light color make a ready-made canvas for carving.

Some consider arborglyphs to be a legitimate form of artistic expression and honor trees with these carvings. Others think it is just so much graffiti and another form of tree defacement. Most forest owners do not encourage the practice of carving on their trees.

But these immense beech trees hold an interesting place in history, the information technology of the past, as it were. Their history goes back to the Cherokee Indians in America and the Basque herders of the French and Spanish Pyrenees. Arborglyphs record history as human dwellers document their place in time, carving their names and sacred messages deeply into the soft, steel-grey bark. Tree glyphys, like the petro glyphs of the southwest, were even used during the Native American migration on the “Trail of Tears,” serving as path and information markers for generations to come; these are known as culturally modified trees.

Today, arborglyphs are often GPS documented, and at the end of their life, they take a permanent place in history at local museums.

Perhaps the demise of this tree will find Penn College students twittering: The tree has finally “bit the dust” and is being carved into beautiful sections to be preserved and displayed for the future, in the halls of the Earth Sciences building. Imagine the iron sculptures that the student welders can design to display these great pieces of forest art. Start drawing, welding students. The time is approaching as the beech is nearing the end of its place in woods history.

– Flora Eyster, part-time instructor of horticulture

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Spring 2010On the cover: At Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Dean Dietrich, '09, is one of three Pennsylvania College of Technology graduates cultivating a love of horticulture and innovation by carrying on the 100-year-old vision of the garden's founder.

Spring 2010