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September President's Message

03-Sep-2020 11:25 AM | Greg Gdowski, PhD (Administrator)

Dear Fellow Engineers,

These are interesting times for the Rochester Engineering Society.  The Covid-19 pandemic has caused most professional societies to either cancel or deliver the majority of their events virtually.  Even our effort in delivering tutoring and other STEM-related activities have either been suspended or delayed.  This has created financial strains within the RES that have not been experienced since the Influenza pandemic of 1918 (more on this later).  In order to weather the pandemic, we have cut our expenditures and have refocused our efforts on reengaging our community through our monthly publication, The Rochester Engineer.  Last month we presented a gift to Jean Kendrick for being the first member to locate the 1920s artwork in the magazine.  Congratulations!  Like last month, we will provide a small gift to the first RES member to locate the 1920s artwork in the upcoming issue.  No repeat winners!

Despite the current crisis, the Rochester community has not been idle waiting for the air to clear.  In this issue, and in the upcoming months, we will be highlighting how Rochester has stepped up to the plate to solve problems to keep our community thriving during the pandemic.  If you have children, the recent delays in starting in-person classes was not only disruptive but it was surely alarming in terms of ensuring their continual education.  On page 10, you will find our lead article about COMET; a group that brought together numerous local organizations to spearhead an effort to develop a software platform to track distance learning in our community.  What is striking was that the software was live within a week of conception.  Reading the article was not only inspiring but it was remarkably gratifying to know what Rochesterians are capable of in times of need.  Take the time to read the lead article about COMET, you won’t regret it!

A person wearing a suit and tie Description automatically generatedSurely you have heard of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, or Bacon’s Law.  Every day I am reminded of how tightly coupled the engineering community is within Rochester.  Last month, I was randomly speaking with my neighbor about current events.  In that discussion, I learned that he was the grandson of Harold O. Stewart – the RES President in 1921 during the era of all artwork I have been placing in the Rochester Engineer.  It is likely that Harold Stewart had a large role in starting the magazine – only 4 short years after the 1918 Influenza pandemic in November of 1922.  Ironically, the RES also had 8x10 portraits/photos taken of all 400 members in 1922.  To my knowledge, this was the only time this has been done in the history of the RES. The portfolios were placed in four large volumes that are so heavy that I could only bring two volumes home (for scanning purposes).  The signed photo of Harold Stewart was on pg. 1 of volume 1!  To my even greater surprise was that there was a signed photo on pg. 1 of volume 3 of William Stewart – the great-great grandfather of my neighbor.  Given that I will also be the RES President in 2021.  What are the odds of my neighbor being related to the RES President that preceded me by a perfect century, and that I would have signed photos of his great and great-great grandfather?  This must be a good omen.  Harold Stewart had a remarkable impact on the RES in 1921-22 – shortly after the Influenza pandemic.  I can only hope that I will have a comparable impact on the RES at the conclusion of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

All my best, Greg Gdowski

RES President

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