Students present weather-related monument designs to AccuWeather founder

Joel Myers, founder, chairman and president of AccuWeather, discusses the design of a prism transit center with engineering students. Credit: Penn State / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa – Through the Center for Research in Design and Innovation, first-year engineering students in EDSGN 100 and 100H, along with students from architecture, investigated and designed what a weather-related monument displayed on campus might look like.

Lead by Matthew Parkinson, associate professor of engineering design, mechanical engineering and industrial design; director of the Engineering Design program; and director of the Center for Research in Design and Innovation, and Tim Simpson, professor of mechanical engineering and industrial engineering, the design project was sponsored by Joel Myers, founder, chairman and president of AccuWeather. Myers is a Penn State alumnus, former Penn State meteorology faculty member and recent Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. 

At the beginning of the spring semester, Charlie Cox, instructor of engineering; Nick Meisel, assistant professor of engineering design and mechanical engineering; Cathy Braasch, instructor of architecture; and Laura Foxman, Stuckeman Career Development Assistant Professor, tasked their students with designing a monument that would meet a $300,000 budget, be engaging and iconic, serve as a landmark that increases tourism to the University Park campus and increase public appreciation of the scientific principles driving weather. 

On March 22, the students presented their findings and designs to Myers and Mike Steinberg, senior vice president for special initiatives at AccuWeather, in a mini-showcase held in Kunkle Lounge. Eighteen posters and prototypes were presented to Myers and Steinberg. Designs included ideas such as an alumni tree, a wind garden, a prism transit center and a storm simulator.

“Open-ended projects like these are vital to the training of young engineers. It introduces them to the creative possibilities in engineering while simultaneously giving them a framework on which to hang their analytical training,” Parkinson said. “Throughout the next several years they will be able to say ‘Oh! I could have used this to make my project better,’ every time they learn something new.”

After reviewing the posters, Myers and Steinberg discussed the next steps of design and creation with graduate engineering design students – as they took the lead for the next stage of the projects. To allow for additional discussions with AccuWeather’s science and design teams, Myers invited the graduate students to visit the commercial weather service’s headquarters, located in State College.

Graduate students presented their finalized concepts at the College of Engineering Design Showcase, held Thursday, April 28, at the Bryce Jordan Center.

The Center for Research in Design and Innovation brings together diverse faculty and leverage, integrate, and expand a wide range of on-going interdisciplinary design research at Penn State. The areas of research are integrated by two themes: human contexts and design technologies and tools. Human contexts include cognitive science and social science bearing on design work. Design tools include design languages, design methods, and computer-aided design technologies.

AccuWeather is a commercial weather service headquartered in State College, Pennsylvania, that provides forecasts and data to more than 175,000 clients around the world and millions more through its free website,


Last Updated May 06, 2016