The Skystream 3.7 sounds like the name of a corporate jet that burns as much fuel in an hour as a sport utility vehicle does in a year of driving. In reality, the 3.7 sits on the other end of the environmental scale: It's a wind turbine slated to fuel part of Babson College starting this spring. Babson, which has been aggressive in adopting ecofriendly initiatives, will become the first Boston-area college to use wind power, according to the three graduate students at Babson's business school who spearheaded the project.
The turbine, which will be placed on the athletic fields, will eventually supply about 60 percent of the annual energy needs at the exhibit hall at the entrepreneurship center, school officials said. The tower will be roughly 35 feet tall and will produce an estimated 400 kilowatt-hours per month.
"This project will be a source of sustainability education and awareness for many years to come," said Shelley Kaplan, associate vice president of facilities management and planning at Babson. For more information on environmental initiatives at Babson, visit www3.babson.edu/Offices/President/podcast.
Abroad, earlier: For most high school students, freshman year of college marks the first time living away from home. Now more first-year college students are jumping at the chance to live in another country, choosing to study abroad before even arriving on campus.
In the latest sign of an emerging trend, Princeton University last week named a committee to look into creating a "bridge year" program for newly admitted undergraduates to spend a year performing public service overseas before starting their studies.
Princeton's president, Shirley Tilghman, said the program would "increase the international perspective" of students and broaden the university's commitment "to the service of all nations by encouraging students to spend time abroad."
It would also give students a break from the academic pressure that affects many successful high school students.
Princeton officials estimated that approximately 100 students, or 10 percent of each class, would participate. The group will study the possible cost of the program, which would be tuition-free.
Academic study abroad programs would not be part of the program. The working group plans to make recommendations about the program early this summer.
Plastics: Thanks to two $1 million gifts, there is a great future in plastics at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
Mark Saab and Jim Dandeneau, graduates of the college's plastics engineering program, donated the money to advance the teaching and research of environmentally friendly plastics.
The $2 million grants, along with a $1 million match from a state trust fund that finances endowments related to the environment, will finance two research professorships in the field. The state fund was created in 2004 when UMass sold 110 acres on Nantucket to the Nantucket Conservation Foundation.
Saab, a 1981 graduate, is president of Advanced Polymers Inc. in Salem, N.H. Jim Dandeneau, a 1980 graduate, is president of Putnam Plastics Corp. in Connecticut. They were honored at a recent lunch at Alumni Hall.
"UMass Lowell has been a leader in plastics engineering education and research for the past 50 years," said Bob Malloy, a professor chairman of the plastics engineering department. "These professorships will allow our department to embrace the next generation of technology, one that addresses the growing need for environmental sensitivity."
Cliff note: Here's a little-known fact. Actor John Ratzenberger, best known as know-it-all mailman Cliff Clavin on the beloved Boston-set sitcom "Cheers," is now a member of the board of trustees at his alma mater, Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. A native of Bridgeport, Conn., Ratzenberger was a member of the college drama club and starred in Tennessee Williams's "Summer and Smoke."
Ratzenberger is a successful screenwriter and director and has lent his distinctive voice to many feature animated films.
Campus Insider runs on alternate Sundays with Ask the Teacher, an advice column. To submit tips to Campus Insider, e-mail Peter Schworm at firstname.lastname@example.org.