Engineering background helps Joe Pace in role as UB SA treasurer

Engineering aids Pace in synthesizing information for SA

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When Joe Pace was a child, he said his basement floor was a “sea” of Legos. Pace, a senior mechanical and aerospace engineering major, said his interest in building with Legos ultimately led to his love of engineering.

By the end of his freshman year at UB, Pace had been elected Engineering Council coordinator – overseeing all of the approximately 20 engineering clubs in the Student Association and making sure the engineering department was “represented in the right fashion,” he said.

So it may have surprised some last spring when Pace ran for SA treasurer – a position usually reserved for finance or accounting majors.

But Pace says his engineering background has actually helped him in his duties as treasurer of SA – a position which helps oversee a nearly $4 million budget of student funds.

“Having an engineering background was very helpful in that you’re used to having everything in front on you, half of which just doesn’t make any sense and then trying to sort of put everything into piles and understand how it works,” Pace said.

He said the role of treasurer requires for him to synthesize a lot of information and make prudent decisions, rather than have a background in economics. Pace, who friends and SA colleagues describe as reliable, efficient, serious when he needs to be and humorous when he needs to be, is looking to continue installing a new rollover budget program and uphold the SA constitution in his final semester.

Pace, a Buffalo native, said he was always “really into science” as a kid.

His family took on the hobby of rock collecting and would travel out west to find fossils and minerals. Pace said at this point he had developed an interest in archeology and paleontology. He thought about becoming a volcanologist for a while before realizing how dangerous volcanoes are.

“I wasn’t super thrilled about the idea of climbing into a volcano to check it out, so I kind of abandoned that perspective career,” Pace said.

But Pace said he remained very interested in science, engineering and building.

His older brother, who once served as the assistant Engineering Council coordinator, encouraged him to run for Engineering Council coordinator.

“It was really cool that I got to interact with all of the engineering clubs, which is really interesting because a lot of them had really cool projects going on that you maybe wouldn’t know about unless you had the opportunity to really interact with them,” Pace said.

Pace ran for the position again the following semester and was re-elected. He said the council was able to bring in a lot of money from corporate sponsors and interact with them as well.

Pace helped execute an engineering conference. He said he formed a “tight-knit group” with a lot of the students who were working in the clubs.

“By the time the second year came around I was a lot better at it and got to learn a lot of stuff,” Pace said. “It was a really great way to get students in touch with their future careers, so that was really rewarding to sort of bring that element of the real world over to UB and also expand the spotlight.”

Enzo Benfanti, a senior chemical engineering major, met Pace in the sixth grade and the two have remained friends into college.

He described Pace as “reliable and always there when you need him.”

“Whether you need him to be jocular or when you need him to be serious he’s always there,” Benfanti said. “He keeps the group active and lively.”

Pace is known to make some humorous and colorful remarks – any reporter’s dream. During a senate meeting last semester, he referred to the SA Senate chair election controversy as “unnecessary hoopla,” and told The Spectrum that he continued eating his sandwich and went on with his day when he was elected SA treasurer in an uncontested race for he and his executive board.

One of those fellow e-board members, SA President Minahil Khan, said Pace is “overwhelmingly dedicated” and contributes a lot of his talents to SA.

“If I had to say Joe had a superpower it would be his efficiency from everything like budgeting to finding routes to campus,” she said. “I’ve never seen anyone work more efficiently.”

Sean Kaczmarek, SA vice president, said Pace has a “very different perspective” from previous treasurers in that he has more of an understanding of where clubs are coming from.

“Joe is very about getting things done – in one word he’s a go-getter, anytime there [are] any problems going on, Joe is the one person you would go to,” Kaczmarek said.

Pace described his move from council coordinator to treasurer as a very natural transition because he had amassed so much some knowledge of how clubs operate.

“I knew how clubs worked and what they do. I was able to sort of leverage that to understand how to better evaluate clubs and also which clubs are performing better,” he said. “It can be kind of hard for someone without any experience to come in and kind of be overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information.”

He said being impartial and fair was the most important of his roles in the finance committee.

Pace said he ultimately has two major goals for his time as treasurer: installing club rollovers and looking into budgeting processes. He has devised a rollover system to make it easier for smaller, non-revenue making clubs to fundraise 50 percent of their budget, which they must do to receive that same budget the next year. His system allows clubs to hold or attend three additional community service events, three club events and three SA events to receive a 3 percent reduction off of the 50 percent they are required to raise.

“His rollover process was something that was entirely new and entirely unprecedented, he took that project on himself knowing it would be difficult,” Khan said. Pace is also looking to continue to uphold the SA constitution, while also adjusting it to make sure it makes sense and is consistent.

“Over the years it has been kind of an ever-evolving document so I think trying to read through it and following all the rules and make sure nothing is contradicting the way we currently do business,” Pace said.

He said last semester’s senate chair election controversy, in which SA election procedure wasn’t followed, has made no setbacks within SA.

“I think people are kind of over it and now it’s the past. I think everyone just knows now to be a little bit more thorough as they’re doing things operationally and that’s actually another reason why taking a closer look at the constitution is so necessary,” Pace said.

Pace said he’s very happy to have had the opportunity to be treasurer and he’s looking forward to the next few months of working with students and making the organization better. After graduation this spring, Pace will be working with Praxair, an industrial gases company, in its Leadership Technical Orientation Program.

“My grandma used to say you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar and I think that’s a really good life lesson.” Pace said.

Ashley Inkumsah is a news desk editor and can be reached at ashley.inkumsah@ubsprectrum.com.