Most people familiar with the name of Charles Steinmetz appreciate his many contributions to science, but electrifying the world wasn’t the only thing that kept “The Wizard of Schenectady” occupied.
“He was a very influential figure in the history of Schenectady’s school system,” said Edison Tech Center President Craig Cantello, who will talk about Steinmetz and his views on education at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Tech Center on Broadway in downtown Schenectady. “The city wouldn’t have the school system it has today if it wasn’t for Steinmetz. He was the president of the school board and acting mayor at times, and he really got quite a lot accomplished.”
Cantello’s presentation will highlight the Steinmetz Day Celebration and Open House scheduled for the Edison Tech Center from 1-6 p.m. Saturday.
A German who immigrated to the United States in 1889 and came to Schenectady in 1894 to work for General Electric, Steinmetz was by profession an electrical engineer and one of the top scientists of his time. He was born April 9, 1865, and died Oct. 26, 1923.
But when George Lunn, a Socialist, was elected mayor of Schenectady in 1911, Steinmetz also entered the realm of politics.
“He was European, and I think Europeans value education much differently than Americans do,” Cantello said of Steinmetz. “But I’m not going to talk just about Steinmetz. I’m going to talk about other people who valued education, such as Thomas Jefferson, and while my talk will be about 40 minutes, I would like to hear what the public has to say. What do they think of our education system? Is it working for them?”
The Steinmetz Day Celebration isn’t the only event happening this month at the Edison Tech Center. At 6 p.m. April 19, a kickoff event will be held for the Edison Tech Center’s Electric Car Project.
“We’re going to build an electric car and then enter it into a race,” said Cantello. “I think it’s going to be a great project, and we’re all pretty excited about it. The event next Friday will be to discuss the project and everybody is welcome. We haven’t selected a driver yet.”
The Edison Tech Center is one of 24 teams from around the country entered in the event, which will be held in Queens in September at the 1964 World’s Fair grounds.
At 2 p.m. April 20, Edison Tech Center treasurer Bill Kornrumpf will host a special premiere of “Copper in Our Electrical World.”
“Bill’s going to make a short presentation, and then we’re going to show a short video we produced here about copper, explaining where this material that is so important to our lives comes from,” said Cantello. “Everybody goes through some kind of science class in middle school and high school, but they don’t go through engineering in those grades. This is one in a series of videos we’re producing talking about things that have practical uses in our lives.”
The video was produced in conjunction with the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration in Englewood, Colo. While the video is being shown in Schenectady, Cantello will be hosting a viewing that same day at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
“Science is physics and chemistry and other things, and it’s a very important part of engineering,” said Cantello. “It’s a cornerstone, or a tool for engineering. We’re excited about these videos, and we’re very happy with our collaborative effort with the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration.”