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Tag Archives: safety

Green highway snow and ice control cuts the chemicals

By Rebecca Phillips, University Communications

XianmingShi-80PULLMAN, Wash. – Ice-free pavement. “Smart snowplows.” Vegetable juice ice-melt. Cold-climate researchers at Washington State University are clearing the road with green alternatives to the salt, sand and chemicals typically used for highway snow and ice control.Continue reading

Deck collapse: Swaying people can be worse than a hurricane

By Rebecca E. Phillips, University Communications

Bender-80PULLMAN, Wash. – Sultry summer barbeques on the deck don’t usually include third-degree burns and concussions. But for dozens of people each year, happy gatherings are cut short when the floor below their feet suddenly gives way, resulting in serious injuries and death.Continue reading

WSU ranks high for LGBT student inclusion, safety

GIESORC anniversary

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University ranks as one of the best universities in the nation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students.

Campus Pride, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making colleges and universities safer, more inclusive spaces for LGBT individuals, this week released its annual nationwide list, “Top 25 LGBT Friendly Colleges and Universities.” It is the first time WSU has been included.
“I am proud of the work we have done as a campus and community to address the needs and concerns of our LGBT students,” said Heidi Stanton Schnebly, director of WSU’s Gender Identity Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center (GIESORC).
GIESORC is celebrating its 20th anniversary at WSU this year. 
“Our theme is ‘20 Years of Opening Doors to a Future of Possibilities,’” said Stanton Schnebly.  “This honor really speaks to what we have accomplished over the years and our excitement about continuing this work into the future.” 
Campus Pride determined the rankings by analyzing data gathered from a 50-question survey completed by participating colleges/universities. The survey asked about LGBT policy inclusion, support and institutional commitment, academic life, student life, housing, campus safety, counseling and health, and recruitment and retention efforts.
Campus Pride’s index is the only one of its kind, according to Shane Windmeyer, the group’s executive director.
“Unlike other commercially driven rankings, our ratings are done for and by LGBT people and set in a foundation of solid research practice,” he told the Huffington Post online news site and blog.
Each school included in the listing achieved 5 stars overall in the index, plus 5 stars in sexual orientation and 5 stars in gender identity/expression. In addition, the schools had to have 4.5 stars or above (or the highest percentages) in all LGBT-friendly factors.
Stanton Schnebly said being included in the top 25 will help WSU attract new LGBT students.
“I know that parents are using Campus Pride rankings as a tool for searching for safe campuses for their LGBT students,” she said.
While Stanton Schnebly is proud of WSU’s accomplishments, she is quick to point out that more can be done to make LGBT students welcome and successful. For example, she would like WSU to follow the lead of Washington community colleges in allowing students to indicate their gender identity or sexual orientation on the university application. Also, she said work is continuing with the WSU student health advisory board to provide health insurance coverage for transgender students.
WSU is one of five universities from the Pacific Northwest in the top 25. Others include Portland State University, Southern Oregon University, University of Oregon (UO) and University of Washington (UW). WSU joins UW, UO, the University of Southern California and Stanford in representing the Pac-12 conference on the list. 
To view all schools in the top 25, visit
For more information about the 20-year anniversary, visit

WSU shares ‘smart home’ technology with the world

smart home sensors
Sensors are in place throughout this smart home.
PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University researchers have received a National Science Foundation grant to share their “smart home in a box” technology with 60 institutions and scientists around the world in what will be the largest-ever installation of such home monitoring systems.
The collaborators will develop their own monitoring projects in a home or a lab and report back their results. With this data, the WSU researchers will be able to develop a system for using and sharing cutting-edge, smart environments data on a large scale.
“The data collection will offer unprecedented opportunities for researchers to study human health and behavior,’’ said Diane Cook, Huie-Rogers Chair professor in the WSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “It will be a step toward the goal of scaling pervasive computing to larger population groups and settings.’’
smart home
WSU team places and activates smart home sensors.

Smart home research uses programmed sensors in the home to monitor, predict and ultimately improve quality of life, especially in care of the elderly.

As the U.S. population becomes older, using technology to address the challenges of aging is of increasing interest to everyone from elderly residents to care providers and government leaders.  Allowing the elderly to stay in their homes not only keeps them happier but also saves money since assisted living costs can average $70,000 per year.
WSU researchers have already developed the non-intrusive “smart home in a box’’ that is able to monitor and learn residents’ normal daily activities in their apartments or houses. About the size of a printer, the system can monitor residents’ locations and activities, learn their routines, note when there is a change and prompt them if they forget to do something. 
With the aim of maintaining privacy, the system is unlike some home monitoring systems in that it does not include cameras or microphones. Using state-of-the-art technology, the system is wireless, is easy to install and provides high-quality data.
WSU researchers are working to commercialize the technology. However, while there is a lot of interest and potential application for smart environments, the technology has not been available at the large scale.
The three-year, $900,000 grant will introduce researchers around the world to the WSU technology, create a large research database and improve communication among researchers in the field of smart environments.
The WSU team is working to develop the infrastructure for a large database that could someday include a whole community, rather than just individual homes. So, for instance, the researchers could learn a community’s behavior related to energy usage, and smart sensors could learn to react to the behavior.
“Ideas for developing smart environments and related technologies abound,’’ said Cook, “but due to the difficulty of creating a fully functional smart environment infrastructure, many of these ideas are discussed in theory or are tested on simulated data. In fact, because data is in such high demand for the field, researchers actually have designed complex simulators to provide an approximation of realistic conditions.’’
The WSU researchers will ship their smart home boxes to researchers around the world starting in September. They hope to deliver 20 systems by December.
Diane Cook, Huie-Rogers Chair professor, WSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, 509-335-4985,
Tina Hilding, communications coordinator, WSU College of Engineering and Architecture, 509-335-5095,

Take Back the Night march draws large crowd

To view photos individually, click the arrows to the right, under the photos.



Photos by Robert Hubner and Shelly Hanks, WSU Photo Services
PULLMAN – The 27th annual Take Back the Night march drew a sizable crowd Wednesday evening bringing together the Pullman and WSU communities in solidarity against violence.
The march began on the Glenn Terrell Mall – near the annual Clothes Line Project that displays hundreds of personal messages about how violence has affected many lives – and wound its way through campus, ending near Beasley Coliseum.
A short candlelight vigil followed the march, giving participants a moment to reflect on the effects of violence on the lives of victims, survivors, family, friends and the larger community.
Each year, more than 500 students, faculty, staff and community members take part in the march.
The Take Back the Night march is designed to demonstrate the commitment of participants to making the WSU Pullman campus and community a safe place for everyone. The march elevates the consciousness of the community in regard to the right of everyone to live, work and move about in a violence-free environment.
For more information about the annual march see the Women’s Resource Center website.

Sexual harassment, discrimination prevention training

PULLMAN – “Eradicating discrimination and sexual harassment and fostering a respectful environment requires an ongoing, demonstrated commitment from all members of the university community,” said WSU President Elson Floyd in an April 2010 statement.
Human Resource Services and the Office for Equal Employment, in response to the president’s statement, have developed  an online training program that includes WSU policy and processes through the WSU Online Learning System.
“The focus of this training is to assist WSU in maintaining safe and respectful working and learning environments,” said HRS Director Theresa Elliot-Cheslek.
Entitled “Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Prevention,” this course provides an overview of different types of harassment, describes applicable WSU policies preventing harassment and identifies specific WSU offices and resources available to help in cases of discrimination and harassment.
New online and instructor led training will be available beginning Thursday, July 29. The online training course can be accessed 24/7 by WSU faculty, staff and students throughout the WSU system. Additionally, live presentations will be provided to the general WSU community through HRS Training and Development. If desired, Colleges and departments may request to schedule presentations for their faculty and staff by contacting HRS. 
For complete information and links to the training, visit

Family Forest Expo presented in Auburn

OLYMPIA – The second ever Family Forest Expo will be held on Saturday, Feb. 13, at Green River Community College in Auburn.
Family owners of private forestland in Washington will have the opportunity to learn how to keep their forests safe and healthy.
Some 220,000 families in Washington own more than half of the state’s private working forestland.
Gates at the event will open at 7:30 a.m. and presentations will begin at 8:30 a.m.
Participants will be able to attend up to seven different expert presentations, choosing from more than two-dozen topics. Among the topics being offered are common tree and shrub identification, wildlife identification, managing the forest for wildlife, common forest insect and diseases, growing and tending forests, fire-wise practices and pruning trees. There will also be demonstrations of small-scale equipment, tool use and tree falling.
There also will be a resource area featuring equipment vendors and public, private and nonprofit organizations that provide assistance to landowners.
Some of the workshops and tours will be outdoors, so participants are encouraged to wear weather-appropriate clothing and footwear.
Advance registration received by Feb. 8 is $40 per family. Registration at the door is $60 per family. Box lunches will be available for an additional $10 each. Because there are no restaurants or stores in the immediate area, attendees are encouraged to either sign up for the box lunch or to plan to bring their own.
The registration form and additional information, including driving directions, are available at Forms are also available through county Extension offices, or by contacting WSU Chelan County Extension at 667-6540.
For more information contact Jim Freed at 360-902-1314 or
WSU Extension, Green River Community College, the Washington Department of Natural Resources, the Family Forest Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service are sponsors of the event.