Tesla House

Tesla House is a special housing community just for first-year students who are thinking about majors in Physics, Geology or Education. Tesla House is located in Monroe Hall, which is the newest residence hall on campus and has Gold LEED certification. 60 spaces are reserved for first year students and transfer students who apply to Tesla House and the other 100 spaces are reserved for students of all years who are in EcoHouse and transfer students.

Monroe Hall

Tesla House identifier

Quick Facts

  • There are 60 first-year students who live in Tesla House: 20 Physics majors, 15 Geology majors, 10 Elementary Education majors and about 15 students who are undecided or have other majors
  • There is a Math and Physics Tutor dedicated to supporting Tesla House students.  This tutor is a Tesla House "alum" and holds 4 office hours per week in Monroe Hall.
  • Tesla House students take the required first-year writing course (INTD 105) together
  • Tesla students participate in the Common Summer Book Read
  • A 1-credit, Integrative Project Seminar (INTD 102) taught in the spring semester is only for Tesla House students and teaches them inquiry, critical thinking, and presentation skills as they choose, execute, and present their work at GREAT Day.
  • Tesla House Mentors, students who lived in the Tesla House their first year, offer support new Tesla House students.

What is a Living-Learning Community?

A Living-Learning Community (LLC) is a group of students who choose to live together in a Residence Hall to explore a common interest.  Each LLC has a shared academic component (e.g., course, faculty-led workshops, service trip) and is strengthened by co-curricular experiences that align with the community's interests and goals.

The Learning Outcomes of our Living-Learning Communities are from the GLOBE document, which outlines outcomes for all SUNY Geneseo students upon graduation:

  1. Integrative Inquiry: To ask meaningful questions connecting personal experiences to academic study and co-curricular life; to synthesize multiple bodies of knowledge to address real-world problems and issues.
  2. Application and Transfer: To adapt and apply skills, theories, and methods gained in one or more domains to new situations.
  3. Reflection: To reflect upon changes in learning and outlook over time; to make personal, professional, and civic plans based on that self-reflection.

Goals of Tesla House

  1. Provide support for students as they navigate the new challenges associated with collegiate learning

  2. Provide opportunities for students to integrate across their disciplines through experiential learning

  3. Increase learning through peer education

Tesla's Namesake

Tesla House is named after Nikola Tesla, a Serbian-American inventor and engineer who is most famous for his contributions to the design of the alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. Tesla immigrated to New York City in 1884 and went to work for Thomas Edison. After resigning from Edison Machine Works, Tesla started his own company and went on to invent an induction motor powered by a rotating magnetic field. Tesla was also an integral part of the design and construction of the Niagara Falls Power Plant, the first hydroelectric power plant in the world. Adam's Power Station is the only part of the original power plant that is still standing today and it is National Landmark Historic Site. The Nikola Tesla Memorial is located on Goat Island, between the American Falls and the Canadian Falls. He has around 300 patents from 26 countries. His curiosity, diligence, and excitement in problem solving (in and outside his discipline) are the same characteristics we hope to instill in Tesla House students.

How to Apply

All housing placements for Tesla House are based upon application review. Applicants must have submitted complete answers to all questions in the application to be considered for placement. Only those who submit an application for Tesla House by the housing deadlines listed on the housing selection website may be considered for placement. In addition to the questions in the application, you will be able to indicate your interest in one of the three majors of Tesla House (Geology, Physics, or Education). If individuals are interested in more than one major, we ask that they list a preference so we can assign residents to one of the three tracks offered. You can find more information on the housing process at housing for incoming students.

Academic Requirements


Students in Tesla House are required to take a First Year Seminar in their respective major during the Fall Semester as well as the course(s) they need for their major.

In addition to the courses needed for their major, Tesla House students, as part of a living-learning community, are required to take:

Fall Semester

ENVR 188 - This fall-semester course will introduce three things: the Genesee Valley in which you now live, the principles of sustainability, and how six different liberal arts disciplines make sense of those first two subjects. Introductory material will be covered through a series of two-week online modules, along with flexible opportunities for discovering more about local civic and biotic communities. A portion of the curriculum will ask you to integrate what you’re learning and what you’re doing. This course is taught on a pass/fail basis.

INTD 105 - Geneseo's core writing course; special sections are reserved for Tesla House students and taught in Monroe Hall.

"Nature Writing" - Professor Ken Cooper, English; meets TR 8:30 am - 9:45 am - This course will consider nature writing from at least a couple of perspectives. The first is that, regardless of your interests, everything has an ecology: all the objects surrounding you, including the food that metabolizes to become your body. Writing becomes a process of discovery for our ecological connectedness. The other perspective is that the genre of nature writing dates back more than two centuries, emerging as a response to industrialization, and now is in desperate need of rethinking for our own era of climate change, digital spaces, and biotechnologies. Your writing will help contribute to that endeavor.

Learn more about the work students did in 2018 at the Nature Writing course blog.  And check out their end of the semester reflections and Story Map after each person in the class spent 30 minutes one day observing Geneseo to cover a 6 am to 6 pm time period.

Introduction to Sustainable Systems - 1 credit, integrative online course from Geography, Humanities, Geology, Economics, Ecology, and Native American studies

Spring Semester

INTD 102 - Integrative Project Seminar; opportunity to learn valuable group research skills and present at GREAT Day.

Optional Courses

Lastly, students in Tesla House who need science general education courses, are recommended to take the following courses.  These are recommended because students will be 

Fall 2019 - GSCI 150/151 (Geology of Climate Change and Energy)

Spring 2020 - PHYS 106/107 (Physics of Light and Color)

The Common Book, Summer Reading Program

Members of Tesla House, Dante House, and AOP will participate in a common read over the summer. You will be assigned to meet in discussion groups about the book during move-in weekend. Geneseo students, faculty, and staff will lead the discussion groups.

Book for the 2019-2020 cohort: brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.  Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

Jacqueline Woodson is the 2014 National Book Award Winner for Young People’s Literature for her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor Award, the NAACP Image Award, and the Sibert Honor Award.  She is the author of more than two dozen award-winning books for young adults, middle graders, and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a three-time National Book Award Finalist, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

One accepted into Tesla House, students are responsible for reading the book before they arrive on campus in the fall. Students can purchase the book, an audio book, or borrow the book from a library.

The Tesla Project - INTD 102 - Integrative Project Seminar

All members of Tesla House will have the opportunity to choose and execute a project for a 1 credit course in the spring semester. These projects are student-generated and student run, with help from faculty and staff. They may be a service project, identifying and proposing solutions to a community problem, or a project that complements your coursework with out-of-the-classroom experience. Students will form small groups composed of all three majors and they will choose a project to work on from faculty and staff suggestions as well as their own. Dr. Reitz will work with each of the groups throughout the semester to understand the process behind choosing and following a project through. Final projects will be posters that students will present at GREAT Day.

Tesla House GREAT Day Posters (2016)

View 2016 Posters

  • Indoor Aeroponic Geneseo Gardens. A feasibility study for indoor wall gardens to provide our dining halls with food
  • What's in Your Water? A study to compare SUNY Geneseo drinking water to EPA standards using the new ICP-OES in the Geological Sciences Department
  • "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." A feasibility study for adding quotes to campus buildings to enhance visual art on campus and inspire students

Opportunities for Tesla House Students

Letchworth-Geneseo Experience

Join incoming Tesla House students for a pre-semester trip to Letchworth State Park. Get a jump start to the semester with the 1 credit course designed to introduce you to Geneseo, Letchworth, and college courses. A pre-semester trip open to all students, but designed for Tesla House students to meet each other before the semester begins, to get an introduction to one of Tesla House's Faculty Fellows, Dr. Jim Kernan, to explore Letchworth State Park, and to understand connections between science, nature, and education. More information on the Letchworth-Geneseo Experience.

Field Trip Opportunities

  • Professor Jo Kirk's Apple Farm
  • Explore the eGarden (Geneseo's energy garden) with Professor Steve Padalino and Dr. Dan DeZarn
  • Nikola Tesla's Hydroelectric Dam in Niagara Falls, the first of its kind, built in 1895
  • Museum of Play in Rochester, NY
  • Geneseo's War Plane Museum, just minutes from the college
  • Worm Power - a Worm Farm located 10 mi from the campus in Avon, NY

Peer Education Opportunities

  • Math Tutor designated for Tesla House and holds office hours in the Residence Hall
  • TAs for various courses hold office hours in Monroe Hall
  • Collaboration with EcoHouse students on a hall project
  • College Bound - students from local middle and high schools come to campus

Questions or Concerns?

Dr. Meg Reitz, Assistant Director of Student Life for Educational Initiatives
Phone Number: 585-245-5851
Email: reitzm@geneseo.edu