News

October 19, 2007

Tech Clinic is Developing Area Revitalization Plans

Six students are exploring options for the Route 611 and 512 corridors in the Slate Belt

A team of six students in this year’s Technology Clinic will prepare an economic development plan for the Route 611 and 512 corridors in the Slate Belt.

Tech Clinic is a hands-on course founded in 1986 that brings together students from different majors to help solve the real-world problems of a business, non-profit organization, or government body.

Under the guidance of Dan Bauer, professor of anthropology and sociology, and David Stifel, assistant professor of economics and business, the students are working on a yearlong project which will conclude in May.

Members of the clinic are Laura Bochner ’10 (Bethlehem, Pa.), a biology major; Viktorija Gecyte ’08 (Vilnius, Lithuania), a mathematics-economics major; Nigel Martin ’10 (Elkins, W.Va.), who is enrolled in Lafayette’s distinctive bachelor of arts program in engineering; Priyanka Nair ’08 (Kerala, India), a biology major; Rachel Scarpato ’08 (Yardley, Pa.), an anthropology & sociology and American studies double major; and Jason Urton ’08 (Concord, Mass.), an anthropology and sociology major.

The team is working with several organizations in the Slate Belt, including the Slate Belt Council of Governments (COG) and its director Victor Rodite, Ultra-Poly Corp., Slate Belt Heritage Center, and Slate Hills Enterprises.

During this semester, the students will get to know people involved in the project and investigate issues surrounding the socio-political-economic situation in the local area as well as on the national scale. In December, they will present a preliminary plan.

During the spring semester, the Tech Clinic team will work on ways to implement their plans and will figure out the logistics for the chosen projects.

Bochner explains, “The Slate Belt doesn’t want to lose its open space to rows of 1,000s of single family homes. The area doesn’t want the school system overburdened; rather, it wants to increase its tax base with sustainable development that will keep its young people here. What we’re doing is more like trying to find the synergies between the goals and visions of various clients and examining the projects that other areas have implemented.”

Some of the plans that the Tech Clinic is currently exploring are a proposal for biofuel crops and a biofuel refinery and the suggestion for a “slate village” which would re-create the slate mining operation of the area when it was at its height.

Being a Lehigh Valley native, Bochner has a vested interest in Northampton County and the use of sustainable practices.

“I have witnessed the rapid transformation of my home township into a bedroom community. This is what the Slate Belt is trying to avoid and I understand the importance of the project’s efforts,” says Bochner.

Each of the six students will bring their own perspectives and experiences to aid the project. For example, Scarpato conducted EXCEL research over the spring and summer on urban renewal in Easton and, as an architectural studies minor, Urton participated in a summer program in architecture at Harvard University.

  • Anthropology and Sociology
  • Economics and Business
  • Biology
  • American Studies
  • A.B. Engineering

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