Category Archives: Electrical Engineering

Making a Decision about Grad School

Alexis Lanier

Alexis Lanier,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 19 April 2020

A little over a month ago, when life was still normal, I got to go visit a few graduate schools to try and help me decide where I wanted to go to get my PhD.

The first university I visited was University of Utah in Salt Lake City. While I was there, I got to tour several labs, go snow tubing, and was provided with lots of free food (always a huge perk in my book) with about twenty other prospective students.

Snow Tubing in Utah

It was my first-time snow tubing so that was an incredibly fun experience and I got to make lots of new friends with the current and prospective students.

In the two weeks following, I also visited the Ohio State University and Colorado School of Mines which were both great visits filled with more fun activities. The best part was my oldest sister is a post-doc at CSoM, so I got to stay with her and catch up on some much-needed sister time.

Sister

After months of worrying about where I would be living and what I would be doing after summer, I finally had heard back from all the schools I applied to and got to make my final decision. The decision was in no way an easy one as it was one of the biggest decisions I had made in my life thus far.

That being said, I will be attending the University of Utah to pursue a PhD in mechanical engineering starting this August. My research will be on lower limb robotic prosthetics and exoskeletons, so I will get to combine my passion for robotics with my passion for helping people. While it is so sad to move on from all the great times I had in undergrad and all the amazing people I have met, I am beyond excited to start this next stage in my life and see where life takes me.

Making Plans for Grad School

Alexis Lanier

Alexis Lanier,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 12 February 2020

With the end of my last semester of college quickly approaching, I am constantly thinking about my plans for after graduation. After graduation I am hoping to attend graduate school to get a PhD in electrical or mechanical engineering. While doing this, I am hoping to work on robotics/medical robotics research. I have wanted to study robotics since I was in the 8th grade and came across one of Hanson Robotics’ humanoid robots being interviewed.

Applying to graduate school took a lot of my free time last semester with studying for/taking the GRE and writing and editing my personal statement/statement of purpose (I applied to 9 schools), so I am relieved to have that all off my plate. I am now waiting to hear back from each school to make my final decision of where I want to go.

Currently I have been accepted to The Ohio State University electrical engineering PhD program, and next weekend I will be visiting the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. During this visit I will get to meet with professors in the mechanical engineering department, eat with faculty, and even go snow tubing at a ski resort.

It’s extremely stressful not knowing where I’ll be in six months, but I know no matter where I end up, I’ll be one step closer to my dream of working in robotics, and hopefully making an impact in the lives of others. I am excited (but nervous) to hear back from other schools, and I am extremely thankful for the opportunities I have been offered thus far.

Sand Volleyball

Dillon Mahr

Dillon Mahr,
Junior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 13 October 2019

One thing that I really like about Ohio University is the recreational opportunities it provides. There is a lot of hiking trails, lakes, and other land open to the public very close to OU. Not only that, there are the sand volleyball courts, frisbee golf course, and basketball course.

In my sophomore year I found a group of fellow engineering students that really enjoyed playing volleyball together on the sand courts. We definitely are NOT pros by any means, but we just enjoyed playing and hanging out after class.

Sand Volleyball

The Russ College has its own volleyball tournament every year that is usually held in the spring. My friends and I decided to enter. Everyone was there to have fun, but the competition was actually pretty intense. We worked our way through the tournament to the championship game.

I was the only computer engineer on a team of mostly chemical engineers. We were facing the team Steel Bridge from the Civil Engineering Department. Each team was playing to win bragging right for their college. The game was super fun and came down to the wire in the last set. We somehow managed to win.

I am definitely glad I decided to first just go ask if I could join in on a game of sand volleyball. I ended up making some great friends and having a great time.

Summer Internship at Fluor-BWXT

Alexis Lanier

Alexis Lanier,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 23 September 2019

Over the summer, I got the opportunity to work at Fluor-BWXT in Portsmouth, Ohio as a design engineering intern. When I first arrived at the plant, I was amazed at the history and size of it. Until 1991, the site was a gaseous diffusion plant used to enrich uranium for military and commercial purposes. Now, the plant’s main operation is decommissioning and cleaning up the site.

Since I have only worked in research prior to this opportunity, working as a design engineer and working in the industry were both new experiences for me, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started.

The first thing I learned at the plant is that safety is the top priority. In my first few weeks at the plant, I went through radiological worker training, electrical Lock Out Tag Out training where we learned how to properly lock out hazardous energy sources, harness training, and a few others. After all my training was completed, I was given projects right away and got to experience what it was like to be a design engineer.

In the three months I interned at the plant, I got to work with other engineers on several projects around the plant. I worked on power calculations, installing a plotter, replacing a water heater from a one-phase to a three-phase heater, and multiple other smaller projects. After completing many design documentation packages, I learned that with the enjoyable engineering work, paperwork usually follows.

Fluor-BWST Interns

Besides gaining experience in the power field, I became great friends with the other interns and got to explore Portsmouth, Ohio with them. I went to my first dairy bar (shown below), saw the Portsmouth floodwall murals, and learned some southern Ohio jargon.

Dairy Bar

Although at first, I was nervous being in such a new environment, working at the plant was a great and enjoyable experience that I’ll never forget.

Summer Classes

Dillon Mahr

Dillon Mahr,
Junior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 10 September 2019

This summer was very busy for me. I decided to take BIOS 1700 and COMS 1100 in the first summer session at OU. I wasn’t very excited about classes taking up the first part of my summer; however, it ended up being a pretty good deal. The classes were manageable, and they felt like they were over before I knew it.

It feels good to get those classes out of the way and free up more time, especially Bio. I was worried that the lab would cause scheduling conflicts so getting it out of the way is super nice.

Being on campus during the summer also allowed me to do a lot of work with the student org that I am in. I made a lot of progress in our project and it was a little easier scheduling time with the professors who were still on campus.

Athens is a different place in the summer for sure. There are fewer people on campus, and you can do pretty much whatever you want. I have a lot of friends that say they love Athens in the summer. The nightlife is a little different but there is still a solid amount of people, so it doesn’t feel like a ghost town.

Overall, the summer classes ended up being a good decision for me and I will consider them in the future.

Spring Events: Conference and Volleyball

Alexis Lanier

Alexis Lanier,
Junior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 22 April 2019

The past few weeks have been extremely busy as we are nearing the end of the semester. With professors squeezing in exams before finals and final homework assignments and projects, it’s easy to get caught up in the school work and find yourself not making time for anything outside of that. While I normally find myself lost in this routine, refusing to do anything else until my work is done, this semester I decided I wasn’t going to let myself drown in work and I was going to make time for other things I enjoy.

That being said, a few weeks ago I attended the AIAA Region III Student Conference at Cleveland State with several other classmates and a professor. We headed up Thursday evening, and the conference was all day Friday and Saturday.

Cleveland

On Friday, we got to tour NASA Glenn and see some of the student projects they are working on such as their virtual reality cave. We also listened to some guest speakers from NASA, networked with companies, and played trivia for prizes (my team tied for last place).

Then, on Saturday we listened to undergraduate and graduate students from several universities present their research for a few judges. Although the conference was still academically related, it was a great break from school work and it was nice to get away for a few days.

Another event I participated in over the past few weeks is SWE’s Engineering volleyball tournament. Last week, a few other ambassadors/engineers and I put together a team, “Beach, Please,” and competed on Tuesday and Thursday.

Cleveland

The tournament was held at the sand volleyball courts on South Green, and I think about 8 teams total signed up. Unfortunately, we lost in the semifinals, but the tournament was a blast, and I am hopeful they will host another next year.

Although sometimes it is hard to not stress about school work and allow myself time for other activities, it always ends up a great time and I (usually) never regret that I took a break.

Hobbies for a Break from School Work

Alexis Lanier

Alexis Lanier,
Junior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 24 March 2019

In my last blog post, I talked about my first coaching experience as an assistant coach for a 7th and 8th grade girls’ basketball team. A couple of weeks after my post, we had league tournaments, and the 8th grade girls ended up winning for the second year in a row. Each round into the tournament the games got more intense, and it was an incredible experience seeing the excitement on the girls’ and the fans’ faces after they won.

Now that basketball is over and I don’t have to drive to practice or games 3-4 times a week, I have more free time to enjoy some of my other hobbies. Going to class all day and then doing homework for hours after class is exhausting, so to get a breather from school work I love to go to Ping and work out with my sister. Most days I dread going because I convince myself I am too tired or too busy but luckily, I have my sister to help motivate me, and afterwards I always feel better.

I think the gym is a perfect break from school work and it definitely boosts my mental health. Although I usually only have about an hour of free time to go, it is a great mental break that helps me feel refreshed and less stressed.

Another hobby I have been pursuing this semester is robotics. Dr. Bob, a mechanical engineering professor has allowed two of my friends and me to work with his industrial robot, Baxter. So far, we have just been learning the basics like programming him to move to certain coordinates and grab objects. However, recently we have started to work with his camera sensors, and are planning to program him to recognize a certain object and sort it from other objects.

For the Renaissance Engineers Engineering Day, we programmed him so that we could control his movement with a Playstation controller. The kids loved making him move around and tried to get him to do dance moves like dabbing or flossing.

All in all, despite all the homework and studying it’s been an incredible semester so far and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester has in store!