Category Archives: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Renaissance Engineers

Veronica Ammer

Veronica Ammer,
Junior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 19 September 2017

My dad has an electrical engineering degree. I’m going for chemical. A lot of people that know us well usually say something along the lines of “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” I understand where they are coming from, but to me, chemical and electrical engineering are on completely different wavelengths. I’m living in the realm of fluid mechanics and heat transfer while my dad is surrounded by systems and circuits. While both are necessary and cool careers, they are total opposites. Like night and day, cats and dogs, or Squirtle and Charmander.

When it came time for me to take Basics of Electrical Engineering, I knew I was in for it. Thermodynamics and mass balance were more my cup of tea than circuit analysis and Ohm’s law. The first exam did not go well. At all. I remember trying to calculate my grade to see if I would still even be able to get an A for the class. From then on, I stepped up in that class. I went to office hours, did more than the assigned problems, and poured over the books. My professor noticed my effort and toward the end of the semester he approached my friend and me with an awesome idea about how we could create for good while still at OU.

He invited us to become founding members of an organization called Renaissance Engineers. Our goal would be to create for good in the Athens community by solving problems with the application of our engineering knowledge and skills. The more Professor Vouzianas told us about the organization, the more excited I was to see his vision come true.

When I signed up, I did not know what I was getting into. A lot of hours were spent deliberating about bylaws, meeting times, and how to get Renaissance Engineers out there as an organization. From planning the first meeting to making the poster for the Involvement Fair, I got to be part of the inception. It is sometimes hard to devote a lot of time into something before you have the chance to see the results.

There is a learning curve to starting a new organization and a lot of hard work required. Be that as it may, so many students and professionals have joined the organization and that has meant so much to me.

One of my favorite parts of the organization is its interdisciplinary and inclusive nature. We are a mix of students and professionals, with a range of degrees from journalism to business to engineering. In the infamous “real world” that is often alluded to by college graduates, most people will work with others without the same technical background. That is why I believe it is so valuable to be a part of an organization that is more than just chemical engineering. It has certainly been worthwhile to get involved and I am honored to serve as Vice-President for such an innovative, service-based engineering organization.

WERC Competition

Daniel Riordan

Daniel Riordan,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 24 September 2017

As fall has just recently begun, the days are becoming shorter and temperatures are becoming more sweater-friendly here in Athens. Before the cold weather catches up to us and the “new” school year becomes the “current” school year, I wanted to highlight a valuable experience Ohio University’s Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department allowed me last year during 2016-2017: the WERC Environmental Design Contest.

Teams of junior and senior chemical engineers (plus others who are interested) are led by Dr. Darin Ridgway of the Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering department to compete in a nationwide competition to design solutions to real-world environmental and waste-management issues, presenting their proposal and a bench-scale demonstration in April at New Mexico State University.

WERC Competition

I had a blast last year working with my teammates on our project, where we proposed cleaning industrial wastewater from a coal-fired power plant by installing a specialized absorption tower at the beginning of their existing wastewater treatment system. Not only did I have an all-expenses-paid trip to the Southwest during the school year to present our work, but our group won the award for Best Written Technical Report in our category. Being recognized for all the hours of hard work my teammates and I put into our project was one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career.

The event wasn’t all WERC, though (Get it? Work? I’ll be here all week…). After the awards ceremony, we spent the few days left on our trip seeing some incredible examples of natural beauty in New Mexico and Arizona.

WERC Competition

WERC Competition

From hiking the Grand Canyon (14.2 miles is no joke, let me tell you) to experiencing the White Sands National Monument and Petrified Forest National Park, traveling the Southwest in a university van with my best buds after taking home a trophy was a vacation and resume-booster worth remembering.

Summer in Athens

Nathan Arnett

Nathan Arnett,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 16 September 2017

This past summer I was fortunate enough to work as an intern for the City of Athens Water Treatment Plant. While I could go on about the job itself or the amazing people I met at and through the plant, I think the more eye-opening experience was living in Athens for the summer—when the number of students in the city drops dramatically.

Spending a summer in Athens certainly has many perks. Sure, it may seem somewhat empty at times, and not all of your friends from class are there. But this just serves to open many more opportunities to explore everything that the city and surrounding area have to offer.

Over the summer, there are various events held right in the heart of Athens that offer great opportunities to get out and meet people. For example, “Boogie on the Bricks,” “Ohio Brew Week,” and multiple car shows are all held right on Court Street—Athens’ central street. A laid-back summer without classes also left many opportunities to mountain bike on the nearby trails, and to go kayaking at the nearby Stroud’s Run State Park.

All in all, it was a great summer spent right here in Athens, Ohio. However, I cannot say I am upset all the students are back and the semester is in full swing yet again. While the summer was nice, it’s nice to see all the friends I have made over the past three years, and it’s certainly exciting to get my last year of undergrad underway!

Springtime in Athens

Nathan Arnett

Nathan Arnett,
Junior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 24 April 2017

After a sometimes seemingly endless couple of months of walking to class in the cold and having to find indoor activities for the weekend, springtime in Athens almost never fails to come around abruptly and it is always welcome! It always seems as if the weather is never going to break, and then all of a sudden, it will and the general ‘vibe’ on campus picks up so much. It is so nice to see people back on the greens throwing a frisbee or baseball on the way to class, or being able to study outside for a nice change of scenery.

In addition to just the weather being nicer, it opens up all the possibilities for recreation that haven’t been available since the Fall! This includes going to Stroud’s, which is a lake/park near campus and a great place to picnic, fish, or just relax during a break between classes or on the weekend.

Also, springtime is a great chance to hit any of the local popular hiking trails. It is always a good time to be able to get some friends together and take a hike and overlook all of Athens and the Ohio University Campus.

Lastly, maybe my favorite thing about springtime is the blossoming of the cherry trees along the Hocking River. For those of you who may not know, there is a very well-maintained bike path that stretches for 21 miles throughout Athens county, and a part of it runs right along campus and the Hocking River. This section is lined with dozens (if not hundreds) of cherry trees that bloom beautifully in the spring. It is my personal favorite part about spring—to just be able to take a casual stroll or bike ride along the bike path along the river with the trees in full bloom. Athens in the spring is just such an amazing place!

Heading off to Grad School

Joshua Greenlee

Joshua Greenlee,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 20 April 2017

It’s truly a wonderful time of the year, especially for us seniors, as we prepare to take the next big step in our lives and graduate. As awesome as this time is, I for one will testify that it will be hard leaving the city of Athens that we have called home for these past years.

After graduation, I will be attending Vanderbilt University in pursuit of a PhD in Biomedical Engineering. I had applied to eight different graduate programs, and went to visit a few of them to get a feel as to how I would like the school. In the end, Vanderbilt just felt like the right place for me to be, and I am very excited to be pursuing a graduate education there.

I will be working under the direction of Dr. Michael King, a renowned professor in the field and the Biomedical Engineering Department Chair, conducting research focusing on drug delivery with translational applications in metastatic prostate and lung cancer treatment.

I am very excited to take this next step in my life, and I will be moving to Nashville, Tennessee this fall (an awesome city, by the way, if you’ve never been). This is bittersweet though, as I will undoubtedly miss Athens, the place I’ve called home my entire life. I am so thankful for all the people who have poured into me over this first part of my life at Ohio University, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds! Have a great summer everyone!

Life Decisions

Caroline Wilson

Caroline Wilson,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 28 March 2017

This semester I have been faced with making huge life decisions. As someone who is pretty indecisive in general, this has basically been a nightmare.

For the past 4 years of my life here at Ohio University, I have had a vision of what my life would look like when I graduated. This semester forced me to evaluate whether that vision still rings true to me. Making the choice between industry and graduate school has been one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. I am a big believer in gut feelings, but in these past few months it sometimes felt like my gut was refusing to talk to me.

What helped me come to my final decision was the enormous support from everyone around me. I am the kind of person that wants to know absolutely every piece of available information before I am willing to make a final decision. This is not a particularly useful personality trait in situations where there are a lot of unknowns.

The reason I’m writing this blog post is that I think my situation probably resonates with a lot of incoming freshmen who might not know what the right path is for them. I have two things to say which might ease your worries.

First of all, I would like to say that I reached the decision to accept a job offer because of the unwavering support and patience of my academic advisor here at OU, Dr. Doug Goetz. His impact on my experience in the Russ College cannot be understated.

In these past few weeks, he has met with me every time I felt uncertain or wavered in my decision. He has answered emails, asked for input from his colleagues, and generally been the greatest ally I could have asked for at such a critical point in my life. Ohio University and the Russ College have put me into contact with some of the most incredible people in my life: people that were willing to fight for me and who were there for me during every step of my college experience.

That leads me to my second point: coming to Ohio University was the single best decision that I have ever made. It meant leaving my family behind and flying across the country to a place where I didn’t know a single other person. It also meant that I found a second home.

As I am preparing to leave Athens for my new job as a process design engineer at Kiewit Engineering Group Inc. in Kansas City, I am definitely sad to be closing this chapter of my life, but I also know that my experiences at Ohio University have prepared me to take on the challenges that this next chapter may present.

I wish the best of luck to anyone who might be making those big decisions in their life, and I hope that the experiences of myself and the other Ambassadors might be helpful in making that choice!

Women in Graduate School Conference

Caroline Wilson

Caroline Wilson,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 13 February 2017

This past weekend, I spent my Saturday attending the Women in Graduate School Conference which was hosted by the Ohio University Women’s Center at Nelson Commons. My friend Stephanie, a fellow ChE major, told me about the conference because one of her friends helped organize it.

Although I was initially hesitant to spend my entire Saturday at a conference instead of enjoying sibs weekend with my friends, I have to say that the conference surpassed all of my expectations, and I am so glad that I went. There were a variety of different panels throughout the day which covered a wide range of topics: we learned about presenting ourselves professionally, budgeting in graduate school, and succeeding in and out of academia.

For me, the best part of the day was listening to the keynote speaker, Dr. Valerie Young, author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women. Dr. Young spent the day talking to us about impostor syndrome—that uncanny feeling that you sometimes get which tells you that you’re a fraud, not qualified to be where you are in life, and that someone is going to find out at any second.

I have to say, it was a huge relief to hear that I am by no means the first person to feel this way. In fact, around 70 percent of people—men and women—suffer from impostor syndrome. We talked about how the voices in our head tell us that we aren’t good enough, and how we should deal with them.

Within the next two weeks, I will be interviewing for PhD programs in biomedical engineering at two universities, and I have to say that Dr. Young’s talk could not have come at a better time for me. She reminded each of us that we are capable and qualified at a time in our lives when many of us are most doubtful of our abilities. I am so thankful to the Ohio University Women’s Center for putting on this incredible event—spending the Saturday with a group of talented and passionate women was a breath of fresh air and I felt lucky to be in attendance.