Tag Archives: leadership

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.

Fall Semester Wrap-up

Scott Kostohryz

Scott Kostohryz,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 9 December 2013 – This fall semester was an exciting one. I learned much about some of the manufacturing processes used in industry, about fluid dynamics, and about the applications of MATLAB in engineering. I also refined my skills as a leader in the Robe Leadership Institute.

While taking Senior Design, my team and I have been challenged but we have enjoyed every second of it. We have begun 3D solid modeling in Autodesk Inventor. Our plan as a team is to have our CAD model finished around the first week of classes in Spring Semester. Below is the top portion of our sheet cleaning mechanism we will be machining for ATCO and delivering to them as well.

ME Senior Design

At the completion of this semester, I had the opportunity to work with the Ohio University Career & Leadership Development Center, participating in the Bobcat Leadership Project. Two groups of 6 students worked with two companies, Exel and TQL, on a leadership case study. Throughout the course of the weekend, these teams worked together to give a presentation at the conclusion of the weekend. The primary focus for our team’s work with Exel was to find a location for a new shipping center, how the new location would be staffed and how a manager would work with a team of 20 individuals. This was a great experience outside of the classroom and Russ College. It was great to work with other students from other disciplines and see how they think. This was very much a small taste of the “real world”, allowing students to work together, make presentations, and refine their skills.

Learning from the Robe Leadership Institute

Colton Moran

Colton Moran,
Senior, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 20 October 2013 – This Fall, I was selected–along with a handful of other ambassadors as well as a few other Russ College students–to participate in a program at Ohio University called The Robe Leadership Institute (RLI). I heard about this class my freshman year and I had always been interested in participating in it.

This year (My Senior year) I am participating and I must say it has been an eye-opening experience. The class consists of reading material (4-6 books), interviewing academic and corporate leaders, and a heavy amount of group discussion and self-reflection. All of this is gauged towards understanding leadership concepts and principles.

Before I came into this class, I felt that I had a solid grip on leadership due to my personal experiences throughout school organizations and group work along with a small amount of personal reading, but I’ve realized that’s far from the truth. The RLI class has led me to a lot of realizations about being a leader in terms of directing large groups of people, but also about being an everyday leader. The latter so far has been the most helpful and in my eyes, important.

In the class, we spent time doing a low ropes challenge course (the counterpart to a high ropes challenge course other ambassadors and I participated in). During this course I found something out about myself that I already knew, but didn’t think much about. I like to talk, a lot. But sometimes it’s best to sit back and listen for a while rather than direct the conversation. I must say I decided to implement that little lesson and I quite enjoy the results I have seen from it.

In all, what I have learned from not only this class, but every leadership experience I have had, is there is always room to improve your skills. Knowing that is the first trick, and the second is actively putting yourself in a position to lead and in each opportunity trying to do a little better than last time. Who knows, all those small improvements might make you out to be quite the impressive leader. I know that’s what I am shooting for and that is why I have enjoyed the RLI class I am taking this fall semester.

Synchronized Skating

Talli Topp

Talli Topp,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 17 October 2013 – I am in my fourth year as a member of the Ohio University Synchronized Skating team. The skating team is a great way for me to relax and remove myself from school for a few hours each week. I think the fact that I have a good group of close friends that are not in any of my classes has been one of the best things that came out of joining a club sport. As much as I enjoy my friends from class, it is really nice to have a group of friends who have no idea what I am talking about when it comes to classes; it forces me to forget about the stress of classes for a little while and just truly enjoy myself.

Another great part of being on a club sports team for me is that I get to practice my leadership skills. I have been the team president for the last three years, and the last two years I have also been the head coach. It is really stressful at times, but having the responsibility of both of those positions has taught me a lot about my leadership style, and has also helped me immensely with my time management skills.

We are coming up on the date of our first performance, which means that practices are beginning to become quite intense. This is my favorite time of the year, because I really get see what everyone on the team–including myself–is made of. I have seen so much dedication from the members of my team; we are all willing to add extra practices to our schedules, even if it means that we have to practice at midnight. I can’t say for sure, but I am pretty sure that dedication like that is something that most OU students have when it comes to their classes and their extracurricular activities.

Learning to be a Leader

Ben Taylor


Ben Taylor,
Senior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 30 September 2013 – This semester I’ve been presented with a fantastic opportunity: I am one of seventeen students in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology that is fortunate enough to be a part of the Robe Leadership Institute (RLI). By all accounts, the RLI is a class; I get homework assignments and grades, attendance is taken, and it shows up on my class schedule. But the RLI is definitely something more than a class. It’s an opportunity for the Robe Scholars (the students in RLI) and I to realize and develop our leadership skills in ways that no other program at Ohio University can offer.

This semester, the RLI started with several weeks of self-reflection and self-realization: Exploring who we are as people and what types of leaders we are all capable of becoming. Now, as the semester has hit its halfway point, our instructor, Dr. David Bayless, is bringing in special guests for the class to interview. The guests that we are interviewing are professionals, many of whom graduated from Ohio University, who have had great success as leaders, whether they are engineers, businessmen, or otherwise. Being able to talk to these individuals in a small group setting has allowed me to gain a perspective into the minds of leaders, young and old–people who I would otherwise never have had the opportunity to talk to.

This opportunity was only possible because I got involved in the engineering community early on in my academic career. I joined the Institute of Industrial Engineers as a freshman and was able to become President of the organization by my junior year. This was the first major leadership position I was able to attain during my time here at Ohio University and it was an essential element of my application and interview in order to get into the RLI. Had I not gotten involved early on in my academic career, this opportunity may not have been possible. So my message to any prospective students reading this is to get involved early! You may not feel ready to accept the responsibility of a leadership position; believe me, I wasn’t either. But the more involved you become, the more experiences you’ll gain, and the more prepared you’ll be to further yourself academically, professionally, and personally.