Category Archives: Industrial and Systems Engineering

ISE Senior Capstone

Connor Mitchell

Connor Mitchell,
Senior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 17 April 2014 – Every year senior students in the Russ College are required to complete a senior capstone project as part of their course requirements. The senior capstone project allows students to use the skills they have learned throughout their career and apply them to a real world situation. Normally the group is overseen by an adviser, but the team is responsible for coming up with their own ideas and possible ways to analyze and fix the problem. In most majors and in my case, teams are formed and then an outside client is determined. The client then gives the team the problem and the project begins.

I’m a senior in Industrial and Systems Engineering. Industrial Engineers try to make processes and systems more efficient, which in the end, saves money for the company. This year my team was selected to help out Ohio University’s Environmental Health and Safety Department. The team was assigned to study the variability behind exterior handicapped actuators as well as card swipes that will replace most exterior keys that all students use.

To give an idea of how long these projects last, Industrial and Systems Engineering projects begin in November and end right before spring finals in May. First we met with our client and he assigned us our project. Then we defined the problem and set out to accomplish our task. Next we collected our data, which consisted of measuring heights and positions of actuators and card swipes around campus. After that, we conducted an experiment to determine the optimal height and position of the actuator and card swipe. After analyzing the data, we made suggestions and a proposed plan to our client.

I summarized this entire project in a few sentences within this blog; however, this project took many months of hard work and team cooperation. I was able to apply my engineering knowledge and skills that I learned during my four years as an engineering student to a real life project.

Caving Trip

Ben Taylor

Ben Taylor,
Senior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 9 April 2014 – I’m sure many people wouldn’t typically associate the terms “engineer” and “outdoorsman” with one another. And in my case, many people would be spot on with that assumption; I am an engineer, but by no means am I an outdoorsman. Sure, I love being outside on a nice day or playing a little sand volleyball in the summer months, but you certainly won’t find me running a 5k or hiking up a mountainside.

As my career at Ohio University is winding down, I thought that I needed to go outside of my comfort zone a little bit. One of my roommates is an outdoor recreation major and at the end of last semester he suggested that I enroll in a caving class for the current spring semester. He had gone on one of the trips before and said that it was quite an experience, so I decided to pull the trigger and sign up.

After a quick two weeks of classes in late February to early March, myself, eight other students (my roommate included), our teaching assistant (TA) Hunter, and our professor Matt (a super cool PhD student) were in a van driving to Radford, Virginia to face a weekend worth of camping and caving. After setting up camp and spending the night on Friday, we woke up early Saturday morning and drove to our first cave, Starnes.

Starnes is a cave deep in a hillside that is located on a farmer’s property just outside of Radford. We hiked about a half-mile through the farmer’s property and then rappelled down into the cave (after first obtaining the farmer’s permission, of course). The moment I entered the cave and got out of the sunlight, I could feel the presence of the cave’s immense darkness set in. Once you get a few hundred feet into the cave, climbing over rocks and through crevices, there is absolutely zero light and only darkness.

We all wore headlamps and carried two forms of backup light as a precaution, along with lunch, water, extra batteries, extra clothes, and empty bottles in case a bathroom transaction needed to be made (you can’t just go anywhere in a cave).

The experience of climbing through these caves with this group of students I barely knew was exciting and truly enjoyable. The instructor Matt did a great job making sure that we were all comfortable and led the group so that we not only were able to explore the caves ourselves and make our own decisions about where to explore, but also so we were able to get to know one another along the way and trust one another to have each other’s backs when we needed help.

The caves were extremely wet and the terrain was a constant struggle. You had to be very conscious of every step you took. Also, there were some areas, called “squeezes,” which were extremely narrow areas where you had to crawl army-style to get to the next open area (talk about claustrophobia). There was one particular squeeze that was so tight that you had to put one arm in front of you and one arm to your side and essentially nudge your way inch-by-inch through a 15-foot passageway into the next room. If I learned anything about myself on this trip, it was that I am not claustrophobic like I thought I was!

Caving truly was an incredible experience and I am glad I was able to take on the challenge with my roommate and other students from Ohio University. I will always remember that weekend in Radford, Virginia.

Visiting TTX

Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson,
Senior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 12 March 2014 – Earlier this week, the Engineering Ambassadors went on our annual professional development corporate trip. This year, we went to Chicago for a couple of days and visited different companies and met several OU alumni. The companies ranged from a fry grease regeneration and processing facility to a civil engineering firm that inspected the structure of some of the city’s iconic skyscrapers.

One of the places we visited was TTX, a railcar pooling company. This company fills a unique niche in that it rents its iconic yellow railcars to the major railways for as long as they are needed, and then the cars are transported short distances to the location to where they can be used next, similar to a rental car company.

TTX

This was one of the most interesting companies because it appealed to the broad range of engineers present, and we were all able to see real-life applications of our own discipline as well as the other engineering disciplines. The mechanical engineers were able to see how the cars themselves were designed and retrofitted to meet the changing demands. The aviation majors drew parallels between the railcars and airplanes in the amount of time the vehicle could stay in use as well as required inspections. As an industrial engineer, I was interested to learn about the logistics of the railcar movements as well as the way this method was more efficient than the individual railways buying their own cars. We all benefitted from seeing the business side of engineering required in finding what the market requires and negotiating with clients.

All of the employees we talked to at TTX were very hospitable and more than willing to answer all the questions that we had. All the engineers who went enjoyed the trip; it was enlightening, showing us how much more applications there are in the engineering field than anyone realizes. It was encouraging to get outside the classroom and see real-life applications, especially seeing the work that OU graduates were doing in the years after leaving Athens.

RLI Trip to San Diego

Ben Taylor

Ben Taylor,
Senior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 9 March 2014 – I have been offered many great opportunities at Ohio University over the past four years, but none have been sweeter than the trip to San Diego that I took with the Robe Leadership Institute (RLI) class last week for spring break. I’m actually writing this blog from the Houston International Airport on my return trip to Ohio (so excuse me if I’m overly nostalgic; I can still smell the ocean).

The RLI is a class that focuses on leadership development; the class itself took place last semester, but the trip to San Diego was a “special bonus” after having participated in the class in the fall. Not only did the Russ College of Engineering and Technology organize the trip, but they also paid for my airfare, four nights at La Jolla Shores hotel, cab fare, and food. I am extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity.

Fifteen other students and I traveled to San Diego on Sunday, March 2. The main portion of the trip–Monday to Wednesday–was dedicated to five different company visits that were organized by a San Diego CEO, Dan Squiller, who spoke in our class this past fall semester. Dan is part of a group called “The CEO Roundtable” out in San Diego and several of this group’s members took time out of their busy schedules to give us tours of their companies and talk to us about their leadership style and how it affects the respective company culture.

San Diego

Picture: View of downtown San Diego from the dock at Coronado Island, CA


This was an unbelievable opportunity for several reasons. For one–c’mon–we were in La Jolla, California, about fifteen minutes north of downtown San Diego and right on the beach. This was also my first time traveling during spring break and I could not have asked for a better location or a better group of people with which to travel. But the most unique opportunity was that we were able to speak with five people who are real-world leaders. The first we met owns a small start-up business of just five employees. The last gentleman we met is the CEO of an electronics company with over 550 employees. We saw a wide variety of company sizes and cultures and it was very interesting to see how each company took on the characteristics of its leader.

After we met with these five companies and their respective CEOs, our group stayed in downtown San Diego for the next two days just to relax and enjoy the amazing atmosphere and weather in San Diego. The whole trip would not have been possible without the generosity of the Russ College and Ohio University. Opportunities like this constantly reassure me that I wouldn’t want to go to college anywhere else.

Attending the Regional IIE Conference

Connor Mitchell

Connor Mitchell,
Senior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 25 February 2014 – As an officer and member of Ohio University’s Institute of Industrial Engineers student chapter, I was given the opportunity to attend the Great Lakes Regional Conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan this past weekend. I had heard from other Industrial Engineers who had attended last year that it was a worthwhile trip so I decided to make the trip. After attending the conference, I can say not only did I have a good time, but I also learned a lot of useful information.

On the first day, the group was given the opportunity to tour Bell’s Brewery. It was really interesting seeing the technique behind the brewing process and the long journey it takes until it ends up in someone’s home. On the second day, we attended what the conference called breakout sessions. Several different companies spoke to the group about the background of their company and the different kinds of ISE tools and methods that their company used. It is always intriguing to hear how the things we are learning in class can be used in the real world. Since ISE is a broad field, these speakers can certainly help ISE students decide about their career.

One speaker who was particularly interesting to listen to was an Industrial Engineer from Disney. They attempt to improve customer satisfaction and try to enhance the customer’s experience while at Disney. Queues are a large part of what they focus on.

Lastly, I want to add that this was a great opportunity for me to build relationships with my peers, which will be extremely valuable to my success. This experience was great and I certainly encourage everyone to branch out and get involved.

Backpacking Weekend with Outdoor Pursuits

Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson,
Senior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 24 February 2014 – This past weekend was an opportunity for me to try something new – I went backpacking! Ohio University Outdoor Pursuits is an organization based within the Ping Recreation Center and is best known for operating the climbing wall at the entrance. They also offer many other services such as equipment rental and several trips of varying lengths and difficulty throughout the year. I’ve wanted to give backpacking a try for a while now so a (very reasonably priced) weekend Intro to Winter Backpacking trip sounded like just what I was looking for. Outdoor Pursuits supplied the food and any gear that I didn’t have and we were off to Zaleski State Forest.

The trip was even better than I had hoped. Despite the hike I signed up for, the weather was the surprise beautiful weather that Ohio sometimes decides to tease us with in February. The group had varying levels of experience, and we took the hike at a leisurely pace that gave us all a chance to stretch our legs after being cooped up inside during the last few cold weeks. We hiked out to a campsite and stayed the night there before traveling on to the site where we would camp Saturday night. Saturday afternoon was also probably the best nap of my life. Sunday morning we hiked out and were able to make it back to Athens about half an hour before it began to sleet. Can’t complain about that luck!

Outdoor Pursuits

Being unplugged from society for a couple of days was a fantastic escape from the fast-paced life of a college student. The seven of us were able to create our own schedule, spend unchecked amounts of time sitting admiring the fantastic views of Southeast Ohio, and swap stories while cooking simple meals around a campfire. It was refreshing to get away before coming back and getting a re-energized start on studying for midterms.

Meeting a Russ Prize Winner

Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson,
Senior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 21 February 2014 – Yesterday, members of the Engineering Ambassadors and the Robe Leadership Institute had the opportunity to have a breakfast and discussion with Dr. James Wynne. Dr. Wynne is the 2013 winner of the Russ Prize for his work on developing the laser that would make LASIK and PRK procedures possible. The Russ Prize is the highest honor for bioengineering achievements that better the human condition and is awarded by Ohio University and the National Academy of Engineering.

The meeting over breakfast flowed like a conversation with friends with the topics developing from whatever came up. The food itself sparked conversation ranging from how your morning diet can affect your overall health to Dr. Wynne’s recent profitable investment in a coffee company. A large amount of what Dr. Wynne talked about was based around his family and his college experience. It was clear that his family plays a large role in is life. It was also possible to see that his life was widely defined by his college experience, the people he met, and the opportunities he was given while still in school. At one point the students provided their plans for the future with Dr. Wynne giving encouragement and advice on how to get the most out of their careers. The discussion never got around to Dr. Wynne’s award-winning achievement, though he did share his medal with the group, inciting a brief discussion about its composition.

The conversation flowed easily throughout the meal and would have continued on had the room not been reserved by another group. The Ambassadors had an excellent opportunity in getting to meet Dr. Wynne. He was very personable, and also had great advice to give to the senior engineers as they are about to graduate.