Category Archives: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

In Athens for the Summer

Veronica Ammer

Veronica Ammer,
Junior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 29 April 2018

This summer I am interning at General Mills in Wellston, OH. An added bonus to an already amazing opportunity is that I get to stay in Athens for the summer. Although I have lived in Athens for six semesters, there is still so much of the town and surrounding areas I have to explore.

My first two years, I was mostly limited by how far I was willing to walk on foot (not far). Even now that I have a car on campus I still don’t venture too far, mostly sticking to the necessities: Walmart, campus and the Athena Grand.

I’m excited for all the places I’ll go without homework looming over me. I definitely want to make it a priority to go to Hocking Hills State Park to check out Old Man’s Cave and Cantwell Cliffs. After seeing some photos via Google, I definitely want to see the caves, waterfalls and hemlock trees for myself.

In addition, I’m looking forward to running on the bike paths in the evenings after my internship. The path follows the Hocking River quite a ways and offers some pretty breathtaking views. I enjoy seeing the foliage in the fall, so I can’t wait to see how vibrant the greens are in the summer.

It will be interesting to see how the town atmosphere changes when most of the students are gone for the summer. I can’t imagine campus without the hustle and bustle of students milling about in-between classes. This summer is certainly going to be a new experience and I am very excited to enjoy Athens and gain engineering experience.

Spring Break Trip to Slovenia

Veronica Ammer

Veronica Ammer,
Junior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 21 March 2018

In early January, my Spring break plans were the same as every year preceding: I was going home to see my cat. By the third week of the semester, I had a plane ticket to go on a cultural exchange to Ljubljana, Slovenia (the first j is silent and the second j reads like a y).

Slovenia

I’m not sure if it was the beautiful architecture, the fresh, flaky croissants or the unbelievably blue Adriatic Sea, but in just one week I fell whole-heartedly in love with Slovenia.

There were students from both Cru at OU and RealLife at OSU on the cultural exchange. We partnered with an organization called Speak Out Slovenia, which works with high school students to practice English speaking through meaningful, relevant conversation with Americans. A lot of our time was spent in classrooms, giving a short presentation and quiz about school in the US, answering any questions, and learning about Slovene culture.

The quiz tested the Slovene high school students’ knowledge of American high school jargon like senioritis, dance chaperone and senior superlative. The Slovene students taught us (the Americans) about their college entrance exam, the Matura, and flaunted that detention does not exist in Slovenia, among many other things.

During that week, we (the Americans) were divided into groups and met at three different high schools. The school I went to was called Gimnazija Šentvid. One of the major differences between American and Slovene high schools is when it comes to sports. Unlike in America, Slovene sports clubs are not affiliated with a high school or district. However, there are schools like Gimnazija Šentvid that offer classes for student athletes where they can train and condition during their school day.

Another big difference is that in Slovene high school a student stays with the same group of people throughout their day class to class with few exceptions except during senior year. This is very different from how American high schools operate where we have our own individualized schedules.

In addition to speaking with English class students in the schools, we also had after-school activities. On Wednesday, all the teachers in Ljubljana went on strike, so we took a day trip with at least thirty Slovene students to Piran, a coast town on the Adriatic Sea. We were split into groups with both Slovenes and Americans and sent on a photo scavenger hunt to see all the sights the lovely town had to offer.

Slovenia

Piran was my personal favorite. Looking out across the sea, in one direction I saw Italy and in the other Croatia. We climbed to the highest point in the town, where we could look out at the point and snap a picture of the terracotta rooftops and breathtaking horizon.

Our last day in Slovenia was spent at Lake Bled. The lake was nestled majestically in the frosted mountains. From a castle that loomed over the lake to the small island church located in the middle of the lake, it was like something out of a fairy tale.

Slovenia

We hiked higher and higher to take the best pictures and to try to capture the beauty of the surrounding mountains. Lake Bled was also a prized destination thanks to its authentic dessert shop that supposedly has the best kremsnita (cream cake) in Slovenia.

Slovenia

Overall, there was a lot to love about Slovenia. I hope I have the opportunity to go back and visit this beautiful country and the friends I made through Speak Out. This trip had a tremendous impact on me through immersive learning about another culture. Even though it was a break from class, it definitely was not a break from learning. However, when you are gazing across the Adriatic or enjoying a delectable croissant, it’s not so bad.

Chemical Eng. Capstone Class: Unit Operations

Nathan Arnett

Nathan Arnett,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 7 March 2018

In my final semester of Chemical Engineering coursework, it truly feels like everything is starting to come together—it’s almost as if the curriculum were set up that way! The first three years of classes were largely more about theory and concepts, learning about things through lecture and small hands-on projects. However, in my senior year—and this semester, especially—the classes are much different.

One such class that is different than any prior is a class called Unit Operations, and it essentially acts as the Chemical Engineering “Capstone” course. In this class, two fellow seniors and I work in a group on 5 projects over the course of the semester. While only 5 projects may not seem like much, trust me and my classmates when I say it is!

All kidding aside, the projects are really not too bad as long as you have good group chemistry and solid time management. For lifelong procrastinators like myself, the time management part has proven a little difficult, but then again, that is kind of the point in the class: to prepare graduating seniors for the real-world.

In this class, we have one week to write a pre-lab report on the project we will be conducting. A few of the projects are running a distillation column, using a fluidized bed to dry cracked corn, and using a filter press to remove limestone from water.

As students, we are responsible for putting forth the engineering theory involved and making predictions of results as well as physically (and safely!) conducting the experiment in two 5-hour lab sessions. At the end, results are analyzed and submitted in a second, post-lab report, and the process begins again with the next project.

While this class may seem from the outside like a burden or overwhelming, I have to admit I do enjoy it. I find it very interesting to be able to apply the multitude of things gained in the classroom over the past 3.5 years to a real-life setting. Seeing theory put into practice is one of the most exciting aspects of Chemical Engineering and engineering in general—especially when those theories hold up in actual experiments!

Advanced Materials with Dr. Marc Singer

Daniel Riordan

Daniel Riordan,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 26 February 2018

When you’re talking with someone about a topic you’re both excited about—whether it’s how the Cleveland Cav’s roster has been shaken up with all the trades going on, or what’s going to happen next in the new season of Westworld—you need both a good degree of background knowledge to be able to chat about the finer details.

The same goes for one of my favorite topics I get to study in chemical engineering at OU: materials. Now that I am a senior and have learned a lot of the basics about materials and how they work, I’m able to enroll in a course offered at Ohio University that covers all the fun and interesting topics in materials science in a more conversational, casual setting. It’s called Advanced Topics in Materials Science and Engineering, taught by metallic corrosion researcher Dr. Marc Singer, and the format is way more casual than a typical engineering course. I mean, look at him.

Dr. Marc Singer

This is a man who knows his stuff about materials and knows how to keep it fresh. We cover topics such as the electrical, thermal, and optical properties of materials at a fast pace, but because the exams are low-stress and the topics are interesting, it’s easy for me to relax and just enjoy it.

We’re talking about n- and p-type semiconductors now and why they’re so important in modern-day computing applications, and it’s been cool to learn from the experts how and why the things around us are made of the materials they’re made of.

Chemical Engineering Academics

Veronica Ammer

Veronica Ammer,
Junior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 18 February 2018

I’ve heard it said that sophomore year second semester of chemical engineering is the hardest semester. I’ve also heard it said that junior year first semester is the hardest semester. Okay, it’s second semester junior year that is the hardest, and so on and so forth. This is because each semester my dad tells me it’s the hardest one.

I think I understand his parenting logic, to get me to be ever vigilant in my studies and take every class seriously. I remember being annoyed during my sophomore year, but now I appreciate what he said to me. He got me in the mindset to tackle each semester one at a time, not dwelling on past semesters, or worrying about future ones.

However, this semester might actually be the hardest semester in chemical engineering, at least for me. That being said, I have never been more excited about engineering than I am right now. While I enjoyed my calculus and chemistry courses over the past two years, my true passion lies in my engineering classes this semester.

My chemical reaction engineering class takes me inside a reactor where molecular bonds are breaking and reforming. I am learning the intricacies of sizing and choosing what type of reactor will best fit my future company’s needs. In my advanced materials course, I can delve deeper into what makes steel so tough and how to choose the optimal characteristics of a material.

Overall, my classes this semester are some of the most engaging I’ve had during my time here at OU. I am beginning to scratch the surface of what my future career could be like, and I am thrilled about that. I am solving problems that, though textbook, have real engineering applications and challenge me to be creative and apply what I know. These classes are tough. None of them are easy, but I’ve heard junior year second semester is the hardest semester and I only have a few more to go.

Chemical Engineering is Useful for Homemade Cider

Nathan Arnett

Nathan Arnett,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 19 January 2018

One of the biggest reasons I went into Chemical Engineering nearly four years ago was due to the versatility of the field. The 3 main tracks Ohio University offers—materials sciences, biological, and environmental—cover such a wide range of areas that with a Chemical Engineering degree, you could find yourself developing new, stronger steels; more eco-friendly fuels, or even making hard cider with your parents over Christmas break!

At my house, we have 2-4 apple trees that produce LOADS of apples each year, and my grandmother also has a well-producing tree. Typically, we just bake the apples into pies or can it as apple butter or apple sauce, but with a large harvest this year, we decided to try our hand at some hard cider.

My Chemical Engineering degree is on the Biological Track, which means I have a fair amount of experience with things involving yeasts, proper sanitation, and the mathematical know-how needed for various types of concentration calculations.

As it turns out, all of these skills came in quite handy when it came time to make some cider. While my father had some experience with brewing from his younger years, I myself had none. However, through the relevant things I had learned in my time at Ohio University, I was able to jump in and help him right away.

It was a really interesting dynamic—my father knew some tricks-of-the-trade but doesn’t have the engineering background, while I knew essentially none of the steps but had the engineering background. Between the two of us, we could learn what the other one did not and from there we could work together to come up with more efficient and different methods to try out.

All in all it was a great experience and a very enjoyable activity over my Christmas break. Also, it was certainly a fun application of various Chemical Engineering theories I have learned over the years, and just another example of the wide range of areas that Chemical Engineering can touch our lives.

Ohio Snowcats Take On Keystone

Daniel Riordan

Daniel Riordan,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 16 January 2018

Wintertime in Athens is always visually striking—the trees are bare, snow is everywhere (unless the sporadic 60°F day comes around)—and there’s always plenty to do outside within walking distance. However, Ohio University’s location in the hills of southeast Ohio also places it within driving distance of ski resorts Snowshoe Mountain and Seven Springs Mountain as well as a couple
hours away from Columbus’s Mad River Mountain.

When it comes to snow sports, my trip into the white snow and high elevation this winter was not to one of those places, but with many of my friends and peers to Keystone Resort in Colorado, facilitated by the local ski & board club, Ohio Snowcats.

Many Ohio University students take advantage of this Athens-area club to spend a week of our winter break in the mountains of a world-class ski resort somewhere in the United States, and I surely enjoyed the choice of destination this year.

Snowcats

For a heavily subsidized cost, my friends and I, as well as about 200 other Ohio University students had the opportunity to ski down some black diamonds and enjoy the views from 10,000 ft. up at this scenic mountain range two hours west of Denver.

Snowcats

Athens is a great place to be, but the opportunities Ohio University has presented me to travel to places and with people I would not otherwise have had the chance to take advantage of are the source of life-changing experiences and many fond memories for me.