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On Campus: News From Across Texas A&M

Aggie Lawyers Go Global

Each summer and spring break, the Texas A&M University School of Law offers its students the opportunity to travel abroad with their professors to experience global lawyering firsthand. Last summer, law students explored dispute resolution and natural resources management issues in Israel and Scotland. 

The Israeli trip focused on policy surrounding water management. Students met with negotiators, lawyers, environmental activists and academics to understand the techniques used to address water scarcity and pollution affecting Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians.

“I wanted to learn more about the laws and policy surrounding water, and possibly understand how water can be used as a starting point in bilateral peace negotiations between each party,” said Brandon Schuelke. “The trip reinforced my desire to practice law, because I saw firsthand how laws and policy truly affect people’s livelihood.”

Similarly, students in Scotland studied natural resources management pertaining to oil and gas law. Students met with practitioners, attended a hearing in Edinburgh, interviewed police officers and had a private tour of one of the oldest courthouses in the world. “I learned about different legal systems and the context in which they practice,” said John Thomas. “This trip allowed me to explore the possibility of practicing law globally.”

Hullabalooga Submarine Sinks Competition

Since 1991, the Texas A&M Human-Powered Submarine Team has raced student-built submarines at events across the nation and abroad. In 2018, a team of eight Texas A&M students from the Department of Ocean Engineering competed in the European International Submarine Races against 11 university teams from the U.S., Canada, Germany and the Netherlands. The Aggies were awarded “Best Co-ed Team” and placed first in their division. 

The team showcased its student-built submarine, the Hullabalooga. The two-man submarine is 12 feet long by 8 feet wide and shaped like a teardrop. “It’s entirely mechanical; there’s no electronics,” said Hannah Toerner ’18, who controlled the submarine during the race along with teammate Cody Chambers ’18.

Teams compete at the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology’s Ocean Basin, which contains 40,000 tons of water. The course consists of submarines traveling straight toward one end of the basin, making a 180-degree turn and then traveling through four slalom poles before returning to their starting point. The team with the fastest time wins.

Toerner said the experience was a valuable real-world exercise. “You learn about fluid dynamics, balance and buoyancy in the classroom,” she said. “That’s great, but it’s completely different to apply those ideas to a hands-on experience like this.”

Vizzers Create Visual Masterpieces

During the last 18 years, Texas A&M’s Department of Visualization has hosted a 10-week summer industry workshop that tests and strengthens the skills of its graduate visualization students, nicknamed “Vizzers.”

Last summer, visiting artists and former Aggies from Disney’s Pixar Animated Studios mentored four teams of Vizzers as they attempted to create animated short films that addressed the provided theme: two robots in a kitchen who experience an emotional change.

The course confronts students head-on with the competitive, fast-paced environment of the entertainment industry. Working in teams of four or five, students create a story, build a detailed digital environment, model their characters, and add special effects, details, lighting and music, all while animating the short. Participants leave with proficient technical skills, insight into the animation industry, a network of potential employers and an exemplary addition to their video reel.

The workshop’s results were better than ever. “In several decades of teaching, I have not seen a group of students who were as collectively relentless in their pursuit of quality in these projects,” said Richard Davison, a professor in the Department of Visualization. “The finished films were comparable to animation shorts being produced anywhere.”

Patagonia Soil Sampling

Led by Dr. Julie Loisel, an assistant professor of geography and a National Geographic explorer, a group of six geography students spent three weeks studying and collecting soil from peatlands in southern Patagonia, Chile, last summer. These thick soils are home to an estimated seven billion tons of carbon that work to cool the climate on a global scale.

The value of peatlands is expected to grow as carbon trading markets develop and international laws seek to combat climate change. In addition, peatlands store decomposed plant fragments, volcanic ash and relics that can date back thousands of years—making the soil a perfect documentation of history and the environment.

The group camped at a base with no running water and limited electricity, and they chopped their own firewood to cook and stay warm in the harsh environment. They traveled to six sites, where they used extensive peat core sampling and ground-penetrating radar to estimate carbon levels.  “Our work will demonstrate the economic, environmental and cultural value of conserving peatlands,” Loisel said. “The information we are generating will help advance national resource management and could be used by the Chilean government to determine its soil-carbon reference level.”

  • Reel It In

    Texas A&M University is home to many entrepreneurial students—even professional YouTuber Tyler Anderson ’19. Anderson is the creator of TylersReelFishing, which began as a fun way to document his fishing adventures and quickly morphed into a full-fledged business with more than 110,000 subscribers. His videos, which range from educational tips and fun challenges to interviews with other fishermen, have garnered 15 million views.
  • Rising in the Rankings

    Texas A&M rose to No. 24 overall among public universities in the 2019 U.S. News and World Report Best College Rankings. President Michael K. Young noted the ranking as a sign of the university’s excellence in preparing graduates for positions in leadership and service.
  • Space Woman

    NASA named Holly Ridings ’96 chief flight director at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, making her the first woman to lead the Mission Control flight directors. Ridings will supervise all 32 flight directors and flight directors-in-training, who work to ensure the safety of astronauts and the International Space Station.
Contact:

Dunae Reader '15

Marketing Communications Manager/Spirit Editor