Don’t miss out on opportunities

To the editor:

It was good to read today a book review of a new book acquisition at the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County about West Virginia’s Green Bank Observatory and its unique environment. The author is Stephen Kurczy and the title is “The Quiet Zone.” The radiotelescopes at Green Bank have increased in importance since the recent tragic loss of Puerto Rico’s Arecibo radiotelescope to overstressing possibly due to hurricanes made powerful by climate change.

The observatory in Pocohantas County is a treasure chest of scientific and engineering know-how and advanced technology. It should be put to more use. The State of West Virginia might take a cue from the state of Ohio. The Ohio Board of Regents manages the Ohio Supercomputing Center in Columbus and the Ohio Aerospace Institute in Cleveland. Its state universities do not monopolize these facilities. Perhaps the West Virginia Board of Regents should then authorize Wheeling University to tap into such a unique resource, buttressing the school’s doctoral program in engineering science.

West Virginia can take a lesson from Ivy League engineering schools. They make good use of Haystack Observatory in New England. Haystack is a reconditioned military radome installation. Some Australian universities do likewise with decommissioned NASA tracking stations.

For the last several months, local newspapers have followed a searing debate about the dearth of completion programs in engineering in the Upper Ohio Valley. In the meantime, a former hospital in Wheeling sits empty. This building. This building could easily be reconditioned to host graduate studies and research.

Soon we may see the return of safe, effective, frequent and economical public transit between Wheeling and the Steubenville-Weirton area through a transfer point at Rayland in Jefferson County. (Such transit has been lacking for decades.) The Schiappa library branch in the West End of Steubenville has a bus stop where commuter students could safely wait to catch a bus connecting to bus service to Wheeling. It even has a rack where commuter students without cars could lock up their bicycles or mopeds.

Furthermore, these SVRTA vehicles are equipped with mobile WiFi hotspots. Commuting students could efficiently use their commuting time to process their e-mails, texts, etc. This avoids the hazards of texting while driving.

If expertise in observatory practices seemed lacking, maybe Wheeling University could draw on the knowledgeable astronomers and radio engineers at Vatican Radio and the Vatican Observatory for guidance.

Matthew McCann



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