Tag Archives: travel

SourceAmerica/AbilityOne College Design Challenge

Scott Kostohryz

Scott Kostohryz,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 26 June 2014 – After 4 years, I cannot believe my time at Ohio University is coming to a close after one more semester. After finishing my senior design project and submitting a report and video to the SourceAmerica/AbilityOne College Design Challenge, our senior design team (Team Flower Power) found out we were finalists. Our entire team was given the opportunity to fly to DC from June 16th – June 19th for recognition of the award.

Unfortunately only 2 of my 4 teammates could make it. Marissa Singley, Nick Reed and I had the opportunity to see the sites and sounds of DC. One of the best places we visited was the Air and Space museum. My favorite exhibit was the Wright Flyer which was on display.

Wright Flyer

Going out to Washington DC also gave our team the opportunity to meet the other finalists. One team was a group of undergrad electrical engineering and computer science students from Weber State and the other was a team of 3 graduate students from Oregon State University.

One of the most exiting and touching parts of the weekend was doing a simple team builder. We were placed in teams of 3 from different schools and given a bag of parts and a set of instructions. By the end, each team had a prosthetic hand to be given to a victim of a land mind accident in another country. It was a moving team builder where we all worked together to make a difference. Here is a link for more detail on the team builder: Sunrise – A helping hand for landmine victims.

At the end of the week, at a congressional reception, it was announced by Ohio Congressman Steve Stivers that Ohio University had won Best Overall Design in the AbilityOne College Design Competition. It is a great honor to have worked with such a great team, and bring recognition to Ohio University. I do not think that the 3 schools honored at the reception were the only winners. The true winners were the non-profit organizations and those with disabilities who were helped through this design competition.

ME Senior Design

A writeup on the competition, Ohio University, and the Senior Design Team can be seen at the Athens Messenger web site.

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.

At the Future City National Finals

Kelly McCoy

Kelly McCoy,
Senior, Aviation

Athens, OH 24 February 2014 – I LOVE being an Engineering Ambassador! Last week, another Ambassador and I got the chance to fly to Washington, D.C., to represent the Russ College as judges at the finals of the national Future City Competition and it was awesome!

Future City is a national project-based competition where middle schoolers imagine and design futuristic cities and present their visions through scale models, essays, presentations, and a SimCity software simulation. Their projects are then judged on everything from transportation systems to city self-sufficiency to presentation skills. There were so many incredible presentations this year!

Groups compete regionally, and if they win in their region they are invited to the national competition in Washington, D.C. Evan and I acted as general judges and as judges for a Special Award–Best Personal Transportation System–and we heard some very creative solutions! Many groups incorporated several different futuristic ideas, such as autonomous pods charged by a road made of photovoltaic cells or a moving sidewalk. Some ideas were very imaginative and it was great to see kids thinking about engineering principles at such a young age. Many of them were excited continue their engineering educations and admitted they were thinking of becoming engineers. Success!

My personal favorite part of the competition was judging the scale models that the kids made. They had to be constructed of recycled materials ans have certain features. I saw buildings made of everything from vacuum heads to old computer equipment to car parts, all spray painted or decorated to resemble futuristic cities. The creativity of these kids was incredible, and their pride in their work was very inspiring.

Getting Ready for Spring Break in San Diego

Steven Crane

Steven Crane,
Senior, Engineering Technology and Management

Athens, OH 22 February 2014 – Good moooooooorning students!


I’m currently working through week 6 of my spring semester and I’m starting to hit the wall, but I’m keeping my eyes on the prize! During spring break I’m going to San Diego…sponsored by the Robe Leadership Institute (RLI). As a class, we will be attending a leadership convention from Monday to Thursday.

I’ve never been to California and I couldn’t pass up on this opportunity (especially since this winter has been EXTREEEEMELY cold). This semester has been challenging because of the course load, my new job as a lab-assistant, and just life in general, but I know that my degree will be worth it.

San Diego

(This is not a picture I took…I haven’t been there yet! LOL)


I’m looking forward to this trip, because I will be able to grow my leadership skills for a week with fellow Robe Leadership Scholars. The RLI is an engineering leadership group through the Russ College of Engineering and Technology. I was nominated for it through the ETM department because I showed leadership. Leadership is a resource that is getting harder, and harder to find.

This was a semester-long seminar in the Fall and we met twice a week, for 1.5 hours each meeting. We had guest speakers come in and share their experiences and much more! It was by far the most intellectually challenging class I’ve had that wasn’t technology-based.


By taking this class, I didn’t cut down on credits I needed for my major, but I knew that what I would learn here would be priceless throughout my career. I’ve already started applying most of what we learned in class in my leadership roles already! Ohio University’s engineering college is a lot more than engineering, if you ask me!