Fall Co-op at Toyota

Brandon Mahr

Brandon Mahr,
Junior, Engineering Technology & Management

Athens, OH 11 January 2017

This past fall, I was privileged to be a Production Engineering Co-op for Toyota at their Motor Manufacturing Plant in Buffalo, West Virginia (TMMWV). Over winter break Toyota offered me to stay and finish up a few of my projects, and I took the offer. My co-op experience was wonderful, and it was amazing to take what I learned in classes and actually apply it in a work setting.

So, while most of my friends were sleeping in and enjoying a much needed break, I was working. But, I couldn’t have been happier with my decision, though admittedly I definitely missed the sleeping in part.

I was fortunate enough to be given a large amount of responsibility and work some really cool projects in my time at TMMWV. My main goal was to assist in the implementation of Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA), which was in the form of a more efficient, greener Engine Assembly Line. During my term I designed and implemented several new jigs/devices that helped improve TNGA’s line efficiency and improve line safety.

One really cool project I worked over Winter Break was programming all of TNGA’s Automatically Guided Carts. The Automatic Carts transfer Engine Blocks from one area to another, and I was in charge of deciding and programming the carts’ paths. I then designed a new way to ensure no engine blocks fell or were damaged when being transferred, which is now Patent Pending.

Deciding to take the Fall Semester off and co-op somewhere was definitely nerve-wracking, but it ended up benefiting me in a thousand different ways. It helped me see the value in my ETM degree, and I learned a lot that will benefit me in my future coursework. And although I enjoy waking up at 11 AM as much as the next guy, I am glad I went the extra mile and worked over my Winter Break.

Russ College Board of Visitors

Caroline Wilson

Caroline Wilson,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 5 January 2017

Just before finals week last semester, I had the privilege of attending the Russ College Board of Visitors Meeting with my fellow ambassador, Rob Parker. The meeting was in sunny Sanibel Island, Florida. It was a welcome change to escape just as Athens was starting to get cold for the winter. Although I mostly had to enjoy Florida from the balcony of my hotel while I studied for finals during breaks from meetings, it was a nice change of scenery!

The Board of Visitors meets in person twice a year—once in Florida, and once in Athens. Rob and I were asked to attend to provide a students’ perspective. Over the course of the few days that I was there, I attended meetings which covered everything from the progress and goals of Ohio University as a whole to the Russ College Strategic Plan Goals.

As a student, it was extremely interesting to gain insight into the future of my college: being a graduating senior, it’s a bit bittersweet knowing that I won’t see some of the changes enacted while I’m still here. That said, I am incredibly excited about the direction in which the Russ College is heading, and the progress that we have made even since I have been here.

The Board of Visitors meeting was a great opportunity for me because it shed light on some of the challenges that the college has identified, allowing me the opportunity to brainstorm and potentially effect real change. There is a position on the Board open for recent Russ College graduates, and I hope that in the future I can be a part of the group in some capacity. I am proud to be a Bobcat, but more than that, I am so proud to be a soon-to-be graduate of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology.

Quiet Campus

Rob Parker

Rob Parker,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 15 December 2016

If you were to take a walk through campus during the winter break, the place would remind you of a ghost town from a movie. The buildings are empty, the courtyards are quiet and people are able to drive around without getting held up at a crosswalk.

Less than a week ago, though, the scene on campus was far different. There were large amounts of people wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts, coffee shops couldn’t keep enough coffee brewed and people had forgotten what a bed was. Don’t fret though, every year the students make it through to see another semester and this past week was another example of this.

So what am I doing over break? For the most part I’m working on campus for the Department of Housing and Residence Life and I’m also relaxing. But the thing that I’m looking most forward to is skiing! Through my multitude of years here on campus I have picked up some new hobbies and skiing is one of them.

I was introduced to the sport my freshman year by one of my friends and I’ve loved it ever since. I’ve been to Mad River and Snow Trails multiple times but I enjoy the longer trips that we get to take to Holiday Valley, Snow Shoe and Seven Springs. Liking to ski or snowboard comes with another perk–making winter bearable, because the more snow we get, the better the skiing gets!

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.