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Spotlights

Phoebe Suina
Photograph courtesy of Jim Thompson, Albequerque Journal.

As owner of environmental consulting firm High Water Mark, Phoebe Suina ’98 Th’99 Th’01 helps protect the water and lands where she grew up. After earning a Master’s in Engineering Management in 2001, Suina returned to New Mexico to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory. There, she worked on erosion and flood mitigation projects after the Cerro Grande Fire destroyed almost 50,000 acres in the area in 2000. She went on to manage emergency and disaster assistance projects for the Federal Emergency Management Agency before founding High Water Mark in 2013. Suina is from the nearby San Felipe and Cochiti Pueblos, and enjoys tackling issues of floodplain, storm water, and watershed management for numerous pueblos and local governments. Her commitment to the region and its history is evident in her Bernalillo, N.M.-based company’s focus. Recent efforts include working with the Pueblo of Nambe in recovering from successive years of debris flows and flash flooding in the Rio Nambe and with the Pueblo de Cochiti with emergency response and disaster recovery from post-Las Conchas Fire flooding that has damaged transportation infrastructure and traditional structures at the pueblo. “At High Water Mark we recognize the cultural and natural significance of rivers, floodplains, and watersheds in communities throughout New Mexico and the Southwest,” Suina tells the Albuquerque Journal. “We believe in a community-based approach to addressing environmental and water resources issues that incorporate traditional knowledge with science-based engineering, planning, and management solutions for a resilient future.”

Lorin Paley
Photograph courtesy of Lorin Paley.

Former telemark ski racer Lorin Paley ’15 Th’15 has been stuffing things onto shelves and racks for years. But, as she tells the Utah Park Record, “Either the racks would bend the skis’ camber and ruin their shape over time or the skis would slip off if not placed precisely at the right angle.” So the engineer started building her own hangers and shelves—and tinkering with ski rack prototypes. She added magnets (to hold the edges of the skis) and a drip tray, then turned her design eye to improving helmet racks and glove and boot driers. With the help of Robert Collier ’13 Th’13, she implemented a way to dry boots without using heat. Two years later, Paley opened Real Adventure Design in Park City, Utah. The online store offers elegant and rustic products made of steel, maple, and aspen. “Being able to take some of my woodworking and apply my engineering—it’s a fun marriage of a lot of things,” she says. Paley was a leader with the Dartmouth Outing Club and a competitor on the Dartmouth Woodmen’s Team and taught fellow students how to build mountain bike trails for PE credit. Now, as she stashes her winter gear, Paley is on to her next challenge: bike racks.


Photograph courtesy of Rob Mercurio.

Project engineer Rob Mercurio ’12 Th’13 welcomes explorers 20,000 leagues under the sea or into deep space through the many immersive adventures he has developed for museums and malls across the country. In 2015 he brought his electro-mechanical skills to Boston-based 5 Wits Productions (named for the five “wits” of Shakespeare: common wit, imagination, fantasy, estimation, and memory). “We’re a design-and-build company specializing in immersive adventure experiences, interactive exhibits, and special effects for museums, theme parks, theaters, and other popular destinations,” says Mercurio, who handles everything from robotics and pneumatics to carpentry and on-site installation. “It’s a really fun and challenging role, where we get to use a lot of design thinking and user-centered design. I do a lot of technical problem-solving and get to take our ideas right from the page to the shop floor.” Players can solve hieroglyphic puzzles to escape a 3,000-year-old Egyptian tomb, navigate a castle inhabited by an enormous dragon, or become underworld spies to stop a world war. At the drawing board, Mercurio says the design team considers the type of experience they are trying to produce for guests: “Are we trying to force them to work together? Make them feel challenged (but not frustrated) by their activity? Teach them something? From there, we can build an experience or game-play that supports that objective.” The team also considers guest inputs and outputs to make the adventure as realistic as possible. “You wouldn’t press a button inside an Egyptian tomb, but instead would push on a rock,” he says. “So we work to build our technology and control systems beneath a thematically appropriate interface so that it feels the most real for the guest.” He has also learned how to develop exhibits that can take abuse. “We rarely work with loads measured in tons, but the relentless destruction that thousands of young kids will put on an interactive or exhibit day after day is very humbling,” he says.

Research mechanical engineer Michael Walsh ’77 Th’78 Th’91 has received the Bronze Order of the de Fleury Medal for his “significant service” to the U.S. Army Engineer Association. The honor was presented during his February retirement ceremony at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) in Hanover. During his 31-year federal career, Walsh established himself as one of the preeminent experts on military energetics research. In 1986 he joined CRREL’s technical staff as a mechanical engineer and has been actively engaged throughout his career in a wide variety of projects for the U.S. Department of Defense, NASA, NATO, and the National Science Foundation. He has analyzed icecap structures, developed a towed snowplow, tunneled at the South Pole, and conducted military energetics research and environmental cleanup. Much of his recent research was centered on the performance and environmental impact of munitions on military training ranges, with an emphasis on the new generation of insensitive munitions. As cochair of numerous research task groups within NATO, he is recognized in the international community in the field of munitions impacts on military ranges. Walsh also initiated CRREL Junior Solar Sprint program, an engineering-based program for junior high school students. He remains active within NATO, the Finnish ministry of defense, and CRREL.

Isabella Caruso
Photograph courtesy of Isabella Caruso.

Isabella Caruso ’17 Th’17 drew on her winter training in the Upper Valley to shrug off the cold and finish as the top New Hampshire female of the 2018 Boston Marathon. “I think that having trained through the winter in Hanover and having spent the last several winters running here helped a lot. I’m used to running in the cold and the snow, so I was happy that at least it wasn’t a blizzard!” she says of race conditions, which hovered at a rainy and windy 40 degrees. Caruso, a former member of the Dartmouth Running Team, finished 40th in the women’s category and 37th in the 18-to-39 age division with a time of 2:56:18 and a pace of 6:44. She prepared for the marathon by running during winter semester in Hanover, in between her work in the classroom as one of two Dartmouth Teaching Science fellows for 2017–18. She partners with the faculty of introductory chemistry classes to make them more accessible to all students. “I want to see all students succeed in STEM!” she says. She works with students taking general and organic chemistry, leads study sessions, and offers advice on course selection and time management. Caruso can speak from experience on the challenge of juggling it all: As she considers her next career step—“I hope something engineering-related”—she’s also preparing for an August 50K called “The Rut,” a trail race in Montana with over 10,000-foot elevation gain. “That elevation gain makes things interesting,” Caruso says, “but I’m doing it with some of my best friends from Dartmouth, so I’m very excited.”

Harley McAllister
Photograph courtesy of Harley McAllister.

Harley McAllister ’94 Th’95 and his wife, Abby, have just published two “Adventuring with Kids” guidebooks to Yellowstone and Utah’s “Big Five” National Parks and have two more in the works. The books are based on the couple’s research a few years ago as they planned to introduce their four sons—ages 17 to 6—to the parks. “We found it difficult to plan because there was so little information about the parks that was really aimed at families with kids,” says McAllister, who works as a product manager in Bellevue, Wash. “We have homeschooled our kids, so we found wonderful learning opportunities by visiting the parks outside of peak season.” His advice for enjoying the outdoors with kids: slow down. “Allow time for discovery,” he says. “Adults typically hike with a goal in mind, to get to some destination or some vista, but kids want to engage more with their surroundings. They want to stop and inspect an insect or float a leaf down the creek or dip their toes in the water and simply discover nature at a scale that we adults often overlook. And so, when planning excursions, we parents need to look for locations and activities that provide these types of opportunities for engagement and hands-on learning.” The next two guides in their “Adventuring with Kids” series will be published by Mountaineers Books this year—for Glacier and Yosemite.

Categories: Alumni News, Spotlights

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