What To Do When I’m Not Studying…

Ross Lowry

Ross Lowry,
Senior, Engineering Technology & Management

Athens, OH 10 December 2014

Finals week is in full swing, meaning sleep and motivation are at an all-time low, with stress at an all- time high. To be successful during finals week, you can’t burn yourself out. It is too easy to, and many students find themselves falling victim to this. My best advice, take breaks! It doesn’t matter if its two minutes or two hours, but you have to let your brain relax for a little bit.

Whenever I take a break, I always turn to music. If I am at either the ARC or the library I can put my headphones in and just zone out for a second and not have to worry about the exam I will be taking in a few hours.

If I am at home studying, I will go play guitar for a while. For me, playing guitar is my best escape; when I am playing I don’t focus on anything but the music, letting all the stresses of the day get droned out from my Marshall amplifier.

Guitar and Amp

Just the other night I learned the solo to the song “Hotel California” by the Eagles (great solo by the way for any guitarists out there). The first time I was able to play it all the way through without making any mistakes gave me a huge sense of accomplishment and satisfaction which is exactly the confidence boost everyone needs before finals week.

Playing Guitar

Don’t let finals week overshadow your passions in life, for they are exactly what your mind needs in order to relax, build confidence, and overall reduce stress. The less stressed out you are, the more successful you will most likely be on your finals. Don’t get me wrong, studying is very important, and a lot of time should be dedicated to it, but if you decide to take a break do something you enjoy doing to put your mind at ease.

Best of luck to everyone with finals this week!

Chemical Engineering Process Design I

Courtney Sterrick

Courtney Sterrick,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 9 December 2014

One of my favorite classes this semester was Process Design I. In this required chemical engineering course, we learned about the typical approaches one takes to design a chemical plant. A major portion of the course was spent on identifying the best separation strategies for different combinations of chemicals based on their boiling points, solubilities, and other physical and chemical properties. We also focused on reducing the amount of energy required for a particular process as well as recognizing potential safety concerns.

This semester, our final project required us to design a chemical process using the reactant isobutyraldehyde to form methacrolein. Due to side reactions and excess reactant, a number of separation mechanisms were required to obtain essentially pure methacrolein. To test the success of various designs, we were required to use CHEMCAD, a chemical engineering simulation software. My favorite part of the project was identifying how to make the series of separations as easy as possible. It was a giant puzzle! In addition to separating the chemicals to achieve desired purities, we were also required to reduce the amount of energy to be supplied by utility streams.

Once the design was complete, a safety analysis of the proposed process was conducted. In this part of the project, we studied the flammability, reactivity, and health hazards for each chemical individually and combined. Operating pressures and temperatures, as well as other risks related to the process equipment, were also identified. This project was a great way to culminate the course; it combined the major learnings throughout the semester into a single assignment.

Despite being one of my most difficult classes while at OU, it has been one of favorites. I learned a lot throughout the semester and look forward to continuing the material in the spring in Process Design II.

EE Senior Design: Body Area Network Design

Patrick Hanlon

Patrick Hanlon,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 7 December 2014

Every Electrical Engineering Senior is required to complete a senior design project of some sort before they are able to graduate. In our case, we were able to pick our team mates – a group of 5 friends since freshman year. Senior design projects are not limited to any particular project path, but our senior design project is unique in a special way.

The IEEE Antenna Propagation Society is hosting a contest where undergraduate students have the chance to assemble a team to design and create a Body Area Network (BAN) system. The contest requires that the team be no larger than 5 people and accomplish the following:


  • Create a BAN that monitors a user’s heart rate or has fall detection
  • Fabricate an antenna that communicates data to a smartphone via Bluetooth (2.4GHz) with a class 3 power rating (<1mW)
  • Display the received signal strength (RSSI) on the smartphone
  • Have a replicable product for less than $1500 USD.

In order to even qualify for the contest, the teams must complete all of these requirements. The selection rounds are as follows: first round is select the top six teams, the next round is the top 3 teams, and finally the winner.

We, the Ohio University BAN team, have submitted our proposal and have been selected of the top six teams in the world. In the previous year not a single US team was chosen, so this is an honor and an accomplishment for our team.

Currently we are working with many different types of vitals-monitoring sensors and integrating them into a small microcontroller circuit board. This is the first leap into the darkness for the project. With many more tasks to handle, we should be able to gain the knowledge to conquer and overcome obstacles. The goal is to win the contest and present our product to the world at the IEEE Antenna Propagation Symposium in Vancouver, so keep your eye out in the e-News Newsletter for our team in mid-April.

Research with the Avionics Engineering Research Center

Natasha Norris

Natasha Norris,
Junior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 3 December 2014

One of the many opportunities available to students at the Russ College is undergraduate research. I participate in research in the Avionics Engineering Research Center here at Ohio University. The Avionics Engineering Research Center is well known for its contribution to GPS navigation technology over the years.

My first project identified the effects of jammers on airplane GPS receivers. Jammers are also known as personal privacy devices; they emit RFI, or radio frequency interference to block a GPS signal and prevent the individual from being tracked. My current research uses a high-gain dish to look at a variety of effects on the GPS signal as it travels to the receiver.

I am utilizing MATLAB to create the code for data processing and satellite tracking from the high-gain dish. The program tracks one satellite for a specified time period. The narrow beam-width allows the dish to focus on one satellite at a time. The dish will track the satellite’s location from two line elements. Two line elements are orbital elements that describe the orbit of the GPS satellite. They will be used to compute the location of the satellite at a specific time and adjust the dish.

During tracking, the signal’s C/No (carrier-to-noise) ratio will be monitored to make sure the signal strength is accurate and the satellite number being monitored will be reported. After the raw signal is collected, the second MATLAB program will compute the distortions on the signal.

Co-ops are also a great opportunity to gain hands-on engineering experience. I have not participated in a co-op so far; I am debating whether I want to take one this summer or stick with research. Working with research in your undergraduate career can be as productive of an experience as participating in a co-op, you just have to figure out which one suits your career plan.

On the Ice at Bird Arena

Wilson Taylor

Wilson Taylor,
Junior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 1 December 2014

Ohio University has a nearly year-round winter wonderland, Bird Arena. Bird Arena is Ohio University’s ice rink and it serves as a much needed getaway location. When the semester picks up and I find myself bogged down with work I often turn to physical activity to free myself. While at school ice skating is my go-to physical activity. When I first found out about Bird Arena I was hesitant; however, after going a couple of times and learning how to properly balance, I immediately felt at home in the rink.

My interest in Bird arena goes beyond my desire to free-skate. I’m also into cheering on the Bobcat’s ice hockey team. I’ll admit I am not an avid sports fan. That being said, I have grown to develop a deep passion for Bobcats ice hockey.

The first OU ice hockey game I went to was a complete accident–confusing the free-skate time for a game time. After sitting through the first period of the game I found myself immersed in the atmosphere. Waiting for the shrill siren that marks a Bobcat goal with the fans around me was like nothing I had ever experienced before. The Ohio University ice hockey team is a Division 1 team in the ACHA with 16 wins, 2 ties, and 2 losses currently recorded for the 2014-2015 year. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do the rest of the season.

Being a Learning Community Leader

Justin Lumbard

Justin Lumbard,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH dd Month 2014

Back in Spring Semester, I was approached about being a Learning Community Leader. I only had a brief idea of what that actually meant, but my advisor, Dr. Bob, told me that he thought I would be good at it and that it would be a good opportunity for me. So, late last summer, I was trained as a student leader for the Learning Community program. This program seeks to give students a head start in some of their studies as well as the social aspect of being in college. It is a great forum for meeting new people that have similar interests.

This semester, I was the Learning Community Leader for a group of undecided engineers under Dr. Masel as the faculty leader. Because they were undecided students, we were able to show them the different engineering disciplines that they could decide to study. Beyond that though, I believe the new students were able to get a great head start in meeting other people and get acclimated to the new environment that they would be in for the next four to five years.

Personally, this experience was a great experience for me also. I was able to get exposure to helping plan classes and events that the students were able to go to, such as a hockey game and a night of jazz at one of the local places on campus. I also was able to lead study sessions to help students when they had upcoming exams or to review past assignments.

Finally, though, I think we all had fun. The classes were informative for the students but they were never dry or boring. We were able to do projects in class that were engineering related but also helped develop team working skills and friendships. One example of this was the class where we built towers out of simple sheets of paper and masking tape.

Learning Community

The objective was to build a tower to hold as much weight as possible with as few sheets of paper. We had a scoring system, but one team was able to build a tower that held every book, as well as 50 pounds of paper, that we had in the class room.

Paper Tower

The learning community experience was a great growing opportunity for myself, as well as the students who took the class.

Starting ISE Senior Design

Eric May

Eric May,
Senior, Industrial & Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 25 November 2014

Each year, the seniors in industrial and systems engineering are assigned a senior design project to complete before they graduate in May. The senior design projects are real-life problems or areas that need improvement from companies. It’s great because we get to help them, learn, and apply industrial engineering practices, and the companies get to have a problem solved.

When seniors enter senior design, they have the opportunity to select projects from real companies that interest them. They serve as industrial engineering student consultants and the companies are their real clients. There is accountability for both the students as consultants and the companies as clients. The students are given a problem, and are responsible for analyzing that problem and applying industrial engineering principles following the Six Sigma methodology to come up with a solution to the company’s problem.

My group’s senior design project is with a distribution company. The company has a lot of machines across many locations which, naturally, require maintenance. Our project is to analyze the requirements of their facilities, interview maintenance staff, talk with senior leaders, and then research maintenance management software to implement. One of their key goals is to get oversight over how each of their locations is performing so that they can better understand their business and potential areas where they can save money. By keeping their machines running, and downtime at a minimum, they can ship products faster and more reliably, which means customers can benefit too! We’ll be looking at the pros and cons of different packages, how it affects their company, and then presenting our final recommendation.

Having the opportunity to work on hands-on projects is one of the great things about the Russ College of Engineering and Technology that is going to really help me. It’s one thing to talk about a theory or concept in class, but the real learning comes from interacting with real people, doing presentations, and solving problems. Engineering at Ohio University isn’t just about doing math and science, it’s about learning to work with other people as a team toward a goal, and developing your personal and leadership skills. Once you develop these skills, you’re unstoppable, and I think our college truly understands that.