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Turning Education into Action

Posted on April 28, 2005

A group of Grand Valley State University engineering students are using what they learn in the classroom to make life a little cozier for residents in a home on the West Side of Grand Rapids.

On Tuesday, May 3, students from Grand Valley's Padnos College of Engineering will be applying what they learned in Dr. Shirley Fleischmann's heat transfer class when they install insulation on a house owned by The Other Way Ministries. The insulation materials and expertise have been donated by Nu-Wool Company Inc., located in Jenison.

Utility costs for the un-insulated little purple house at 707 W. Fulton St. exceed $300 a month during the winter season. "That's way too much money," said Fleischmann, who also sits on the board of Other Way Ministries.

The engineering students evaluated the house as part of a project using a thermal imaging camera and performing blower door tests. But they weren't only learning about heat transfer. Fleischmann had her students write report on the general problem of un-insulated houses on the West Side as a social justice issue," Fleischmann said. She noted that the people living in the most poorly insulated houses are probably the people least able to afford high utility bills.

"It's not an easy question. It's pretty complex," she said.

The students are volunteering their time to install cellulose insulation and duct work. The cellulose insulation will provide reduction in heating costs by up to 40 percent. The insulation is also environmentally friendly since it is composed of recycled newspapers. Once the project is complete, The Other Way Ministries will be able to provide a warmer and cost-efficient house for a local family.

Media Note: Coverage of the work on the house at 707 W. Fulton St. is encouraged. Work will run all day on May 3, but the best coverage opportunities will be available between 10 a.m. and noon. In the event of heavy rain, the work will be the following day. Call Brian J. Bowe at (616) 331-2221 for more information.

About Grand Valley State University School of Engineering
The School of Engineering, located on the Grand Rapids Pew Campus, is part of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing. The School of Engineering strives to provide a curriculum to meet current engineering standards, which will produce students prepared for the challenges of industry and to serve their local community. More information on the Web at

About Nu-Wool Company Inc.
Nu-Wool has been a family owned and operated business since it was founded in 1949 and is currently the world's oldest and fastest growing manufacturer of cellulose insulation. In 2002, Nu-Wool installed insulation in 18,000 homes in 14 states. More information on the Web at

About The Other Way Ministries
The Other Way Ministries was founded in 1967 and is an urban ministry of the Reformed Church of America and serves to stabilize the West Side neighborhood. Family support resources and programs for men, women, children, and teens are essential to its mission. Services include a food pantry, community garden, crisis intervention and counseling, assistance in job search, housing placement and development of community leaders. More information on the Web at

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