Tag Archives: robe leadership institute

RLI Trip to San Diego

Emily Blaha

Emily Blaha,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 14 March 2015

The Robe Leadership Institute is a seminar for Russ College students to be introduced to leadership concepts and develop their own opinions on what characteristics lead to effective leadership. I had the opportunity to participate in the class this past fall. I think the most beneficial thing for me is that I understand more about my own personality and how to work best with others. We also get to hear from many different speakers throughout the semester; most of them are alumni who have held high leadership positions in different organizations.

Over spring break, participants in RLI traveled to San Diego to visit 5 companies in the area: FieldLogix, Outsource Manufacturing, Wintriss Engineering, Vektrex, and Indyme Electronics. While we were there, we met with the CEOs of the companies and discussed leadership with them. It gave us the chance to see all of the leadership concepts that we learned in the seminar in action. Each of the leaders was unique. They all had their own strengths and weaknesses, and it was easy to see that each company needed a different style of leader.

Robe Leadership Institute Members

Today, more and more companies are looking for engineers to be leaders. The way we think about efficiency and problem solving gives us a great foundation to be effective leaders. Here’s a short article about CEOs with engineering backgrounds!

I love RLI

Spring Break in San Diego

Steven Crane

Steven Crane,
Senior, Engineering Technology and Management

Athens, OH 12 March 2014 – Good moooooooorning students! Have I got some updates for you! I’ll just let you in on a few of them.

The trip that I wrote about in my last blog post was absolutely amazing! It started with another Robe Leadership Institute member (Josh who is a Chemical Engineering student) and I being stuck in Dallas, TX for 30 hours because our flight to San Diego was canceled. The dreaded ice storm caused the havoc there, but I’d rather be on the safe side of flying.

We did find heaven at the Dallas Airport!

We did find heaven at the Dallas Airport!

Once we arrived in San Diego, Josh and I had 40 minutes to get ready for the first meeting. We made it, and we were so glad we didn’t miss it. We listened to a SWAT Team Captain tell us about his leadership experiences (and some of his stories as well)! He had a completely different perspective, because his leadership skills involved other people’s lives, which has no room for mistakes.

The next day we began our visits with 5 different CEO’s over the next two days. To say it wasn’t exhausting would be an understatement; but it was totally worth it. I learned so much and found it awesome that these CEOs would sit down and have an interactive meeting with us (a bunch of college students).

As engineers, we couldn’t help but make a pit-stop at Legoland!

As engineers, we couldn’t help but make a pit-stop at Legoland!

They shared with us their successes, failures, and the ins and outs of their companies today. My biggest “holy crap” moment was when we took a tour of iTech, who manufactures batteries. They told us that they have a warranty return rate that’s practically zero! The fact that they were so efficient and so effective at something so complex was amazing.

In the middle is Rob Bolton, President of iTech

In the middle is Rob Bolton, President of iTech

iTech is manufacturing in San Diego, CA, and they’re competing against companies in China (and they’re doing a fantastic job at it)! The companies in China have wages of $0.80/hour and little/no regulations vs. our wages of more than $10.00/hour and regulations through the EPA. This was really encouraging to me, as someone who is studying manufacturing, which we can compete with China and do it much better.

I feel blessed to be a part of the Robe Leadership Institute at Ohio University for the school year of 2013-14! I know this is an experience that I wouldn’t have been able to participate in at any other school. And this is why I go to THE Ohio University!

I miss San Diego!

And yes, that is a banana tree in someone’s front yard…I miss San Diego!

RLI Trip to San Diego

Ben Taylor

Ben Taylor,
Senior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 9 March 2014 – I have been offered many great opportunities at Ohio University over the past four years, but none have been sweeter than the trip to San Diego that I took with the Robe Leadership Institute (RLI) class last week for spring break. I’m actually writing this blog from the Houston International Airport on my return trip to Ohio (so excuse me if I’m overly nostalgic; I can still smell the ocean).

The RLI is a class that focuses on leadership development; the class itself took place last semester, but the trip to San Diego was a “special bonus” after having participated in the class in the fall. Not only did the Russ College of Engineering and Technology organize the trip, but they also paid for my airfare, four nights at La Jolla Shores hotel, cab fare, and food. I am extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity.

Fifteen other students and I traveled to San Diego on Sunday, March 2. The main portion of the trip–Monday to Wednesday–was dedicated to five different company visits that were organized by a San Diego CEO, Dan Squiller, who spoke in our class this past fall semester. Dan is part of a group called “The CEO Roundtable” out in San Diego and several of this group’s members took time out of their busy schedules to give us tours of their companies and talk to us about their leadership style and how it affects the respective company culture.

San Diego

Picture: View of downtown San Diego from the dock at Coronado Island, CA

This was an unbelievable opportunity for several reasons. For one–c’mon–we were in La Jolla, California, about fifteen minutes north of downtown San Diego and right on the beach. This was also my first time traveling during spring break and I could not have asked for a better location or a better group of people with which to travel. But the most unique opportunity was that we were able to speak with five people who are real-world leaders. The first we met owns a small start-up business of just five employees. The last gentleman we met is the CEO of an electronics company with over 550 employees. We saw a wide variety of company sizes and cultures and it was very interesting to see how each company took on the characteristics of its leader.

After we met with these five companies and their respective CEOs, our group stayed in downtown San Diego for the next two days just to relax and enjoy the amazing atmosphere and weather in San Diego. The whole trip would not have been possible without the generosity of the Russ College and Ohio University. Opportunities like this constantly reassure me that I wouldn’t want to go to college anywhere else.

Getting Ready for Spring Break in San Diego

Steven Crane

Steven Crane,
Senior, Engineering Technology and Management

Athens, OH 22 February 2014 – Good moooooooorning students!

I’m currently working through week 6 of my spring semester and I’m starting to hit the wall, but I’m keeping my eyes on the prize! During spring break I’m going to San Diego…sponsored by the Robe Leadership Institute (RLI). As a class, we will be attending a leadership convention from Monday to Thursday.

I’ve never been to California and I couldn’t pass up on this opportunity (especially since this winter has been EXTREEEEMELY cold). This semester has been challenging because of the course load, my new job as a lab-assistant, and just life in general, but I know that my degree will be worth it.

San Diego

(This is not a picture I took…I haven’t been there yet! LOL)

I’m looking forward to this trip, because I will be able to grow my leadership skills for a week with fellow Robe Leadership Scholars. The RLI is an engineering leadership group through the Russ College of Engineering and Technology. I was nominated for it through the ETM department because I showed leadership. Leadership is a resource that is getting harder, and harder to find.

This was a semester-long seminar in the Fall and we met twice a week, for 1.5 hours each meeting. We had guest speakers come in and share their experiences and much more! It was by far the most intellectually challenging class I’ve had that wasn’t technology-based.

By taking this class, I didn’t cut down on credits I needed for my major, but I knew that what I would learn here would be priceless throughout my career. I’ve already started applying most of what we learned in class in my leadership roles already! Ohio University’s engineering college is a lot more than engineering, if you ask me!

Learning from the Robe Leadership Institute

Colton Moran

Colton Moran,
Senior, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 20 October 2013 – This Fall, I was selected–along with a handful of other ambassadors as well as a few other Russ College students–to participate in a program at Ohio University called The Robe Leadership Institute (RLI). I heard about this class my freshman year and I had always been interested in participating in it.

This year (My Senior year) I am participating and I must say it has been an eye-opening experience. The class consists of reading material (4-6 books), interviewing academic and corporate leaders, and a heavy amount of group discussion and self-reflection. All of this is gauged towards understanding leadership concepts and principles.

Before I came into this class, I felt that I had a solid grip on leadership due to my personal experiences throughout school organizations and group work along with a small amount of personal reading, but I’ve realized that’s far from the truth. The RLI class has led me to a lot of realizations about being a leader in terms of directing large groups of people, but also about being an everyday leader. The latter so far has been the most helpful and in my eyes, important.

In the class, we spent time doing a low ropes challenge course (the counterpart to a high ropes challenge course other ambassadors and I participated in). During this course I found something out about myself that I already knew, but didn’t think much about. I like to talk, a lot. But sometimes it’s best to sit back and listen for a while rather than direct the conversation. I must say I decided to implement that little lesson and I quite enjoy the results I have seen from it.

In all, what I have learned from not only this class, but every leadership experience I have had, is there is always room to improve your skills. Knowing that is the first trick, and the second is actively putting yourself in a position to lead and in each opportunity trying to do a little better than last time. Who knows, all those small improvements might make you out to be quite the impressive leader. I know that’s what I am shooting for and that is why I have enjoyed the RLI class I am taking this fall semester.

Learning Leadership

Joe Cook

Joe Cook,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 15 October 2013 – This semester I was given the opportunity to participate in the Robe Leadership Institute. The course is not a traditional engineering course; instead of equations and diagrams, we are challenged to understand ourselves. I’m not one to keep a journal, and part of the course is weekly reflections. Aside from my blog posts, I think I’ve used the word “I” a total of zero times in my technical writing courses. It’s interesting to sit back and look at how I’ve grown as a student and leader, but more importantly, how I can refine who I am and teach myself to be a better leader.

If I had been challenged to define leadership as a freshman I would have said something like, “the ability to effect change”. Now as a senior my definition has changed dramatically. I would define leadership as “understanding”. To not only understand myself and my needs, but also those around me. To succeed, we must know ourselves. How can I be happy if I don’t know what motivates me? It’s a question I think we should all ask ourselves more often.

On a lighter note, homecoming was last weekend, and seeing the drumline uptown is probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. The marching 110 exemplifies the spirit of Ohio University in their non-traditional approach toward entertainment. That tradition, coupled with the artistic spirit that lives in the hills of Athens Country creates an atmosphere that cannot be matched anywhere. I met several alumni at the annual Russ College alumni tailgate and heard stories as far back as World War II. The fact that alumni older than my grandparents still come back every year really speaks volumes about what makes OU special.

Learning to be a Leader

Ben Taylor

Ben Taylor,
Senior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 30 September 2013 – This semester I’ve been presented with a fantastic opportunity: I am one of seventeen students in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology that is fortunate enough to be a part of the Robe Leadership Institute (RLI). By all accounts, the RLI is a class; I get homework assignments and grades, attendance is taken, and it shows up on my class schedule. But the RLI is definitely something more than a class. It’s an opportunity for the Robe Scholars (the students in RLI) and I to realize and develop our leadership skills in ways that no other program at Ohio University can offer.

This semester, the RLI started with several weeks of self-reflection and self-realization: Exploring who we are as people and what types of leaders we are all capable of becoming. Now, as the semester has hit its halfway point, our instructor, Dr. David Bayless, is bringing in special guests for the class to interview. The guests that we are interviewing are professionals, many of whom graduated from Ohio University, who have had great success as leaders, whether they are engineers, businessmen, or otherwise. Being able to talk to these individuals in a small group setting has allowed me to gain a perspective into the minds of leaders, young and old–people who I would otherwise never have had the opportunity to talk to.

This opportunity was only possible because I got involved in the engineering community early on in my academic career. I joined the Institute of Industrial Engineers as a freshman and was able to become President of the organization by my junior year. This was the first major leadership position I was able to attain during my time here at Ohio University and it was an essential element of my application and interview in order to get into the RLI. Had I not gotten involved early on in my academic career, this opportunity may not have been possible. So my message to any prospective students reading this is to get involved early! You may not feel ready to accept the responsibility of a leadership position; believe me, I wasn’t either. But the more involved you become, the more experiences you’ll gain, and the more prepared you’ll be to further yourself academically, professionally, and personally.