Senior Year Coming to a Close

Marissa Singley

Marissa Singley,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 24 March 2014 – As my senior year comes to a close, with only 5 weeks left in the semester, I realize that choosing Ohio University was the best decision I have ever made. I admit, it was one of the hardest, but it was definitely the right one. Leaving home is never as easy as we all pretend it will be, but this school has granted me with so many opportunities to shine and grow into the person I wanted to be; the person I have become. It is where I call home, and now we all are leaving home again.

Not only is it one of the most beautiful places (Just look at that engineering building!), but there is no doubt in my mind that I have met some of the most fantastic people here in Athens.

Stocker Center

This includes my roommates, my neighbors, my mechanical engineering friends, coworkers, and even my professors. I have been able to make lifelong friendships and connections here that have truly been astonishing.

As I look back on the memories I have made from freshman year until now, I really can’t believe that I am graduating. There is so much to be thankful for as I look forward to a new adventure in my life. Without the support of my OU family, I would not have been able to accomplish all that I have. I am grateful to all those who have come into my life in the past 4 years.

Crazy to think how such a small town can have such a large impact on an individual’s life. Believe me when I tell you, coming to OU was the best decision I have ever made and I have all the success stories in the world to prove it.

Spring Break Skiing

Grant Rhue

Grant Rhue,
Senior, Aviation

Athens, OH 14 March 2014 – One of my favorite times of the year as a college student is Spring Break. Whenever this time comes around, I can’t wait to go to Breckenridge, Colorado, with my family for some downhill skiing and time together. It takes a little time to get used to the elevation change–9,000 at Breckenridge compared to Ohio’s average of 800 feet, but I usually adjust quickly.

Breckenridge

Breckenridge actually reminds me quite a bit of Athens, with its main street lined with small businesses and restaurants. There are also many unique venues to explore while trying to recover after a long day of boarding or skiing. Each year when we visit, we have a family tradition of walking down Main Street after dinner to the small outdoor Crepe A La Cart, where we all get our favorite variety of dessert.

When I began skiing during my junior year of high school, I found that many skiing skills were transferable from my years of playing hockey. It helped me to develop some decent skiing skill on downhill trails. After taking some lessons, I progressed from green trails up to the lower level black diamond courses.

Now, I can take on the steeper, upper altitude bowls and peaks that can range from 10,000 to 13,000 feet. This year, I covered more terrain than I had ever before–skiing from one mountain boundary all the way to the other side, covering 5 different peaks and a variety of runs along the way. Skiing is a great way to enjoy the mountains and to get away from the demands of school.

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.

Spring Break in San Diego

Steven Crane

Steven Crane,
Senior, Engineering Technology and Management

Athens, OH 12 March 2014 – Good moooooooorning students! Have I got some updates for you! I’ll just let you in on a few of them.

The trip that I wrote about in my last blog post was absolutely amazing! It started with another Robe Leadership Institute member (Josh who is a Chemical Engineering student) and I being stuck in Dallas, TX for 30 hours because our flight to San Diego was canceled. The dreaded ice storm caused the havoc there, but I’d rather be on the safe side of flying.

We did find heaven at the Dallas Airport!

We did find heaven at the Dallas Airport!

Once we arrived in San Diego, Josh and I had 40 minutes to get ready for the first meeting. We made it, and we were so glad we didn’t miss it. We listened to a SWAT Team Captain tell us about his leadership experiences (and some of his stories as well)! He had a completely different perspective, because his leadership skills involved other people’s lives, which has no room for mistakes.

The next day we began our visits with 5 different CEO’s over the next two days. To say it wasn’t exhausting would be an understatement; but it was totally worth it. I learned so much and found it awesome that these CEOs would sit down and have an interactive meeting with us (a bunch of college students).

As engineers, we couldn’t help but make a pit-stop at Legoland!

As engineers, we couldn’t help but make a pit-stop at Legoland!

They shared with us their successes, failures, and the ins and outs of their companies today. My biggest “holy crap” moment was when we took a tour of iTech, who manufactures batteries. They told us that they have a warranty return rate that’s practically zero! The fact that they were so efficient and so effective at something so complex was amazing.

In the middle is Rob Bolton, President of iTech

In the middle is Rob Bolton, President of iTech

iTech is manufacturing in San Diego, CA, and they’re competing against companies in China (and they’re doing a fantastic job at it)! The companies in China have wages of $0.80/hour and little/no regulations vs. our wages of more than $10.00/hour and regulations through the EPA. This was really encouraging to me, as someone who is studying manufacturing, which we can compete with China and do it much better.

I feel blessed to be a part of the Robe Leadership Institute at Ohio University for the school year of 2013-14! I know this is an experience that I wouldn’t have been able to participate in at any other school. And this is why I go to THE Ohio University!

I miss San Diego!

And yes, that is a banana tree in someone’s front yard…I miss San Diego!

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.

Taking Time to Play with my Band

Daron DiSabato

Daron DiSabato,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 06 March 2014 – To escape the stress of our engineering coursework, many students in the Russ College (including myself) have hobbies and other activities that we partake in outside of the classroom. For me, I am practicing musician and recording artist. For the past nine years, I have been actively involved in a Columbus-based rock band called Playing To Vapors. Consisting of my best high school friends, we fall into the alternative/progressive rock genre akin to the likes of Radiohead, Minus the Bear, and My Morning Jacket. From live performances to studio recording, we immerse ourselves in every part of the music making experience—-writing, recording and performing all original material.

Playing to Vapors Live

As a student of both electrical engineering and audio production I am frequently asked how audio/music and electrical engineering are related. It may seem that the two are polar opposites; however, recording a professional sounding record requires a deep technical knowledge of acoustics, recording equipment and analog and digital signal processing.

A true recording engineer not only understands the qualities that make a great song but must fully understand signal-processing equipment such as equalizers and compressors to properly manage frequency balance and transient content in a recording. Many of concepts which are developed through electrical engineering courses are also important in the audio world, including gain, frequency response, sampling, bit depth, feedback, filtering, signal-to-noise ratio, and many, many more. What electrical engineering has brought to my audio background is a greater knowledge of these concepts and the ability to apply my technical know-how directly to my work as a recording artist and musician.

Playing to Vapors in the Studio

Playing to Vapors in the Studio

Rethinking Hydraulics Lab

Nick Sparks

Nick Sparks,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 26 February 2014 – This semester, my hydraulics lab has changed my thoughts about labs. Earlier lab classes that I have taken follow the same format: the professor writes the pre-lab and then we follow the steps without fully needing to understand what is going on.

This semester, our professor has changed the format of the lab so that we are able to design and conduct experiments. Each lab takes two weeks. The first week we are first introduced to the equipment and are able to ask the professor questions how this equipment works and what it is used to find. Then we take a week to research and write a pre-lab, which is is traded with another student who had written a pre-lab for a different experiment. Then in week two we conduct an experiment that was written by another student.

At first I did not like this new process, but after the first two weeks and getting a better clarification from our professor, this has to be one of my favorite labs. I like how we are able to create the lab by telling someone what readings to take and what those readings mean by going through a data analysis. It feels really cool to be the person telling someone what to do during an experiment for once.

This class is helpful because it is giving me a better understand of the equipment I am using by having to figure things out on my own. It is nice to have a piece of equipment and think to yourself “If I turn this knob, what effect it will have on the system?” It is neat being able to figure that out for myself instead of having a professor tell me.