Author Archives: dalemasel

About dalemasel

Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Ohio University

Car Trouble

Matt McKenzie

Matt McKenzie,
Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 28 November 2016

If you were to ask me where I would like to work on when I graduate, I would be able to quickly respond with something along the lines of, I would like to work for a company that manufactures vehicles. It doesn’t necessarily matter what type of vehicle that is, however there is one type of vehicle that I have more experience with than others, cars. My interest in cars started from a young age and has grown exponentially since.

As Thanksgiving break was fast approaching, I was finishing up some homework before my last class of the day Monday when I got a message from a roommate and immediately knew something was not right. He had been planning on leaving town an hour or two earlier so when I heard his car wasn’t starting, I had only a short amount of time before class to figure it out.

In my previous post, I touched on the fact that the most rewarding thing I find myself doing is helping other people, but now I get to combine both that reward and my passion for cars to help a friend out. Unfortunately, it was not a simple diagnosis that was going to be getting him on the road that evening and fortunate for him, he was able to find another ride home that day to start his break. After a few hours of troubleshooting, the problem could be pinned down to a faulty connector where a wire had been pulled out just enough to no longer make a good connection.

It still amazes me that the car didn’t die while driving, but it was an easy fix once diagnosed. Though it may not have gone as planned that day, I was able to combine two of my passions and help him get back on the road once we had returned from break.

Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment

Joshua Greenlee

Joshua Greenlee,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 28 November 2016

One of the greatest decisions I have made with my time at Ohio University is getting involved in undergraduate research. I began the spring semester of my freshman year at the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment (ISEE), working with another undergraduate student researching and developing a cost-efficient way of precipitating out harmful cations in fracking water.

After the completion of this project, I began a new project at ISEE testing the pyrolysis of coal in a fluidized bed to produce tar, which would later be treated with different chemicals and polymers to produce asphalt binder. Both projects gave me excellent undergraduate research experience and improved my independence, as each project required the responsibility and work ethic typical of a graduate student.

For the past year, I have worked in Dr. Goetz’s lab at OU studying the efficacy and toxicity of a novel compound in the treatment of ovarian cancer. I previously worked with a graduate student on this project, but after he graduated I was left to finish the project independently. If all goes well, I should be authored on a publication about this research by the end of the academic year.

Overall, my experience has led me to realize that I was made to pursue a career in academic research. It also helped direct me into figuring out what type of a field I wanted to pursue after graduation. If I never would have started researching as an undergraduate, I may never have discovered my affinity for cancer research, or research in general for that matter. If you are interested in participating in undergraduate research with a professor, I would encourage you to send them an email expressing your interest. I’m sure glad I did!

Planning a Chik-fil-A for Athens

Joshua Igwe

Joshua Igwe,
Senior, Industrial & Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 27 November 2016

This semester in one of my ISE classes, Project Management, myself and a few other students decided to do a project studying what it would take to open a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Athens.

Project Management is a class required for all seniors to take in the fall before we begin our senior design project in the spring. Naturally our department wants us to understand how to manage a project from start to finish before we are given our final capstone project.

Chick-fil-A is my favorite fast-food restaurant and I’ve always wondered why we don’t have one in Athens. I figured it would be a fun thing to study in case I wanted to come back to Athens someday to be a franchise owner.

Soon after we began research we found that all that you truly need to open a Chick-fil-A franchise is $5,000 for franchising and a free year to manage the restaurant. The catch however is that Chick-Fil A accepts less than 0.1% of the applications they receive every year. This realization put a damper on my dream of opening a franchise in real life, but the work on the class project had just begun.

Through the planning of the rest of the project, we went through and picked out a location for the franchise, cost for renovations and supplies along with how we planned to staff the restaurant once opened. After gathering the information, planning each task and developing a report, we presented our findings to the class.

This process was helpful as we learned about opening a restaurant and managing a project from start to finish. I expect that this experience will be helpful when we begin working on our senior design project next semester.

Hearing from Experts in Industry

Andrew Videmsek

Andrew Videmsek,
Junior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 24 November 2016

As a student in engineering, I feel it is sometimes hard to see how everything we are learning is applied to the world around us. Luckily there are always plenty of opportunities to hear talks from experts in industry and research about how engineers are moving the world forward.

Just last week, the local chapter of IEEE hosted Jim Watson, an IEEE National Speaker, for a talk at their weekly meeting. Jim gave insight on what an engineering degree allows you to do after graduation, and what you can do during school to better prepare yourself for the future. In addition, he touched on the ways we as students can transition the skills we have learned in a university setting to challenges we will face on the job site.

Another talk I got the opportunity to attend recently was by Dr. Zak M. Kassas from the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Kassas runs the ASPIN Lab (Autonomous Systems Perception, Intelligence, & Navigation Laboratory) and focuses his research on collaborative and opportunistic navigation and optimal information gathering in stochastic environments. His talk went into great detail about his research in ways to complement, or completely replace, GPS biased navigation with the radio waves that are constantly being projected in the world around us.

The final of the talks I heard in November was by Dr. Arvind Thiruvengadam, a research assistant professor at West Virginia University. Dr. Thiruvengadam is probably best known for being one of the researchers who broke the recent news about the Volkswagen emissions tests. In his talk, Dr. Thiruvengadam went into depth about the research areas and future engine technologies that could lead to lower emissions and higher operating efficiencies.

ME Senior Design: Path Sweeper

Jane Oberhauser

Jane Oberhauser,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 21 November 2016

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about how I was excited for my capstone design project. Our team is designing a bike path sweeper to be pulled behind a bicycle and sweep the dry leaves and small debris into a hopper for dumping in designated areas.

It’s a very interesting project that brings in a lot of different mechanical concepts to balance. The obvious ones were directly addressed in the beginning of the project, such as pulling behind instead of in front for safety reasons and our required and desired performance specifications from our project partner.

The first stage of the design process was our conceptual design development stage. This is where we’re just trying to imagine as many possibilities for the design as possible. Next, is the conceptual design decision stage, where we use many different methods and continued research to decide upon an idea. After this stage, we meet with our mentor and professor to present our decision.

Our team ran into some difficulties in this, because around that time, we took a prototype which was given to us (a grass sweeper for a lawn) out for a ride hitched to a bike, and realized that after a certain speed, the sweeper became very unstable and swung back and forth. This drove a whole new arrangement of our design and set us back for a couple of weeks.

With an intimidating mentor and a craving for perfection and approval, this was pretty challenging psychologically. However, I feel like this design process has taught me a lot about how to think through difficult problems from various aspects and not be satisfied with the aspects I immediately think of. I hope I can apply this in life’s other problems as well.

Epsilon Pi Tau Inductions

Jacob Motts

Jacob Motts,
Senior, Engineering Technology & Management

Athens, OH 16 November 2016

Epsilon Pi Tau is the honor society within Engineering Technology and Management. Because it is an honor society, students do not apply to join the organization. Instead, students are chosen for admission based on several strict criteria within EPT. As the weeks passed this semester, I knew that meant that new members were about to be added to our group.

I was appointed to be Vice President of Epsilon Pi Tau last spring and I could not have been more honored. However, since I was an officer, that also meant that I was part of the honorary that led the induction event. When we all got our 15 page script for the event, it became quite clear that some practice was going to be needed.

See, for anyone who has not been to an honor fraternity induction, there is almost always a script from the national organization to be followed in order to keep events consistent and formal. This is great and all, but, the other side of that is that the script is filled with both academically challenging English as well as Greek vocabulary. Furthermore, since this is the first impression new members had of both the officers and the organization as a whole.

On the big night we all were a little unsure if our practice had been enough. It wasn’t so much about getting the script right, rather, it was mostly about leaving the right first impression on the new members. We may have had to improvise in a couple places and flubbed a few words, but at the end of the day, the ceremony was a success and all the new members were overwhelmingly positive about the night. Of course, maybe that was just the Bob Evans talking.

Intramural Sports

Nathan Arnett

Nathan Arnett,
Junior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 14 November 2016

One may think that being ‘bogged down’ by an engineering curriculum and involvement in various organizations would leave no time for any fun–but this is not the case!

For the second consecutive fall, some of my closest friends and I have got together an intramural flag football team for the 7 on 7 Men’s Competitive League, and it is always an absolute blast on game days.

I strongly believe that a good balance between studies/involvement and recreation is essential for any engineering–or any discipline, really–student’s success. It is a great way to unwind from the inevitable stress of day-to-day college life, and also a great way to stay active and to just have fun with some friends.

In addition to intramural sports, it’s not too difficult to work time
into my schedule to make it to Ping Recreational Center for pick-up games of basketball once a week or so. Like I said earlier, when faced with what can be a stressful curriculum, physical activities and a little competition go a long way