Tag Archives: service projects

Habitat for Humanity

Mia Wilson

Mia Wilson,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 4 March 2019

Habitat for Humanity is one of my favorite organizations that I have worked with over my life. Volunteering each Friday is a way for me to take my mind off of classes and to do something rewarding with my my free time.

Habitat helps support an event called Ohio University Move-OUt, a coordinated effort each year to reduce the waste of reusable items during finals and move-out week. This link illustrates the program’s collaboration between the city, university recycling, the region’s thrift stores, the SEO food bank, and Rural Action: https://www.ohio.edu/recycle/move-out.cfm

We find a lot of items that can be donated get wasted for many reasons during that weekend, but the largest reason is that students don’t know about their options for donation. All the organizations involved have a concentrated amount of time and resources for Move-OUt weekend. Things could improve if students had access to information about donating and had it earlier. This could reduce the amount of work that weekend entails for the students moving out, their families and the Move-OUt team. Plus, we could reduce waste and help those in need right here in Athens with the donated items. Who doesn’t want to do that?!

During the past couple of weeks, I have been a part of plans to reach out to other colleges including the Russ College, to spread the word about this event. So far, we have plans to flyer and table specific dates across campus. Our hope is that we can start changing the culture of move out and finals weekend- to really get people thinking about how they can prepare to leave the city and do it in the most responsible and sustainable way possible!

Bingo Night at Lindley Inn

Jelena Mrvos

Jelena Mrvos,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 12 November 2018

Last week, a couple of ambassadors and I went to the Lindley Inn Assisted Living Home to play bingo! Residents there play bingo three times a week, so every once in a while the ambassadors will come play along with them. Julia, Quinn, and I spent about an hour there, and the time flew right by! I never expected to have as much fun playing bingo as I did last night.

All of the residents were so excited it was bingo night. Multiple people told me it’s their favorite type of game night that Lindley organizes. We all sat around at a big table, and each person got two bingo boards. Quinn called the numbers, while Julia and I played alongside the residents. As numbers on our cards were called, we put marbles over each square to keep track of our points.

My favorite part of the evening was getting to know a few of the residents, and I spent a majority of the night talking with a woman named Marianne. She was the life of the party that night! Whether she was reminding a fellow ambassador how to properly call the bingo numbers, or checking her friends’ boards to make sure they didn’t miss anything that was called, Marianne’s spunk kept things interesting!

All three of us had a great time that night, and we are already looking forward to another trip back to Lindley Inn!

Renaissance Engineers

Alexis Lanier

Alexis Lanier,
Junior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 21 October 2018

Going into this school year one of my goals was to get more involved by joining more clubs and organizations. With this goal in mind, I went to the Ohio University annual involvement fair at the beginning of the semester and walked through the endless rows of student organization booths. While fighting through the crowd of students, one organization caught my eye—the Renaissance Engineers.

After going to the first meeting and learning about what the Renaissance Engineers do and their mission, I decided this was a group I was eager to be a part of. The Renaissance Engineers are a fairly new student organization that work under four pillars: technical projects, educational outreach, engineering professionalism, and infrastructure.

Each year the group comes up with various hands-on engineering projects for its members to be a part of, while also focusing on planning outreach events for students from local high schools and middle schools. Coming from a small-town school of 60 to 70 students per grade and having no engineering experience prior to college, I was extremely enthusiastic to become a member of an organization whose goal is to reach students who haven’t had much exposure to engineering.

The Renaissance Engineers hold events such as Engineering Day where students from local high schools come to the Russ College to learn more about engineering, and also go to local libraries to allow kids of all ages to take part in engineering projects.

Along with the educational outreach, the Renaissance Engineers also break into groups to work on engineering projects such as a designing and building a hovercraft, robotics projects, designing and building a bridge, and many more. This year, we are also planning on creating a website, reaching out to other colleges, and working with professionals in the field in order to grow the
organization.

After only a few meetings, I am so grateful I saw the Renaissance Engineers’ booth and became a member. If this sounds like something you’d like to get involved in, the Renaissance Engineers meet the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month @ 7pm in ARC 312.

Running 4000 Miles Across America

Illona Hartman

Illona Hartman,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 18 October 2018

Hey everyone, welcome to the first official 4K update on the engineering ambassador blog. A lot of things have happened over the past year. However, I will try to keep it short and give you a summary on all the events to raise money and awareness for cancer.

In August 2017, I saw an advertisement on social media about a “run across America” to fight cancer. This “4K for cancer” run caught my eye so I started the application process. That summer, one of my coworkers at my Dutch internship was very involved in the cancer community and he introduced me to it. I signed up to be a bone marrow donor in honor of his cousin who was going through treatment for leukemia. My coworker and his son even biked from one side of the Netherlands to the most Southern part to raise money and awareness for cancer. I was so impressed by this fundraising event that I wanted to get involved as well.

Running 4000 Miles Across America

During the application process for the “4K for cancer” in September, I heard the devastating news that my own family faced: my cousin’s baby of 6 months old was diagnosed with a rare kind of myeloid leukemia. Her name is Leighton Hailey van Leeuwen.

After the news, a rollercoaster of events happened in a short amount of time. In the next six months, I got accepted in the 4K for Cancer with “Team Baltimore”, I presented my cause to many organizations, I started online fundraisers (i.e. Yankee Candle, That’s My Pan), I traveled home to finally meet Leighton over winter break, I cut 25cm of my hair as a donation to a wig charity, I raised the minimum fundraising amount of $4500 for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults in less than three months, and I still organized five big fundraisers in Spring—Dutch Bake Sale, a Bone Marrow drive, Selling Valentine’s flowers, a Dopper Sale, and a T-shirt sale—with the help of many people and organizations at Ohio University. With those last fundraisesrs I raised another $3000.

On top of this, Leighton got a bone marrow transplantation herself (transferring stem cells through blood from a donor) in January 2018 and things finally got better for her. My schoolwork and training for the run on top of three hours of field hockey practices was going well too; I was in the best shape of my life.

Running 4000 Miles Across America

It was in March—I just got back from Spring Break in Orlando—when things started to go downhill. In this six month period, I had daily contact with my cousin and family at home, mostly over “WhatsApp”. Two weeks after Leighton’s first birthday in March 2018, they wanted to video call so I could see Leighton. She was not doing so well and things got worse real quick. Less than 24 hours after we hung up the phone, I got the devastating news that our little princess lost the battle with this terrible monster called cancer.

Running 4000 Miles Across America

In the summer of 2019, I will dedicate every single mile of my 4,000 mile journey across America to our little princess Leighton Hailey. Why not this past summer? That is because of my recent post-concussion syndrome, caused by a collision at field hockey practice in March 2018. This third concussion resulted in a medical disqualification for field hockey as well as the 4K for cancer run. This diagnosis happened within the same week of Leighton’s passing and my flight home to attend her funeral early April.

Running 4000 Miles Across America

This year, you can expect a lot of new fundraisers (e.g., a yoga session and 5K run/walk on campus) to continue the 4K journey. I am very excited to raise more awareness with the help of my Theta Tau brother Sara Barnett who signed up to do the 4K bike ride in opposite direction. She will bike all 4,000 miles in 75 days from Baltimore to San Francisco! Our first two fundraisers are coming up soon:


  • Chipotle Fundraiser, Homecoming Saturday October 20th, 5pm-9pm, “33% of your burrito proceeds go to the Ulman Cancer Fund (UCF)”

  • Pancake Breakfast @Applebee’s, Dad’s Weekend Saturday November 3rd, 8am-10am, “Buy $5 tickets or show up at Athens’ Applebee’s restaurant, all proceeds go to UCF”

Running 4000 Miles Across America

For more information:
https://ulman.z2systems.com/illona-hartman

How Underprivileged Communities Open up Jobs for Engineers

Illona Hartman

Illona Hartman,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 16 September 2018

In the summer of 2014, the year prior to transferring to Ohio University, I traveled to Swaziland for a mission trip.

Swaziland

Swaziland is a small kingdom in Southern Africa. This country is surrounded by the ocean and shares a border with both South-Africa and Mozambique.

Swaziland

Swaziland is a defined as a third world country. Similar to South-Africa, the kingdom of Swaziland itself and the government is not poor. However, the division between the poor and the rich communities is tremendous. For example, both countries have big Western shopping malls and massive tourism. On the other hand, those nations also know many underprivileged communities with water supply shortages and one of the highest HIV rates in the world.

Swaziland

Swaziland has the geographical benefit of mountains which is the biggest supplier for water in the cities. This water is drinkable without much treatment because of the natural sand and gravel layers in this mountainous area that filter the water. Nevertheless, access to water and the availability are becoming more scarce. Furthermore, water supply is often only accessible to those that are considered elite.

Swaziland

Swaziland is heavily dependent on its groundwater. Roughly 90% of the population, mainly in rural areas, use groundwater as their main water source. Currently only 10% of the 3,000 existing boreholes provide clear water. Most of the boreholes were drilled in this kingdom since 1980.

The main reason for the low percentages is the failure to fix existing water pumps when they break down. About 28% of water systems in rural areas broke down over the past 40 years and have not been fixed due to the lack of education and knowledge of the SiSwati population. In addition, during 2014 and 2016 Swaziland experienced a decrease in rainfall resulting in food scarcity.

It is clear that Swaziland, just like many other African countries, is dealing with drought and water scarcity issues. For this reason, a lot of foreign investors decide to do businesses elsewhere which has an enormous effect on the country’s economics too. Less access to clean water also has an immense health impact on the already high rates of HIV.

A solution could be a change in education system to start educating SiSwati citizens on how to properly reinstall and fix the water pumps that broke down in the past. Investing in exchange programs with Western universities to send civil engineers and environmentalists could also help rebuild those water systems. Those decisions will be up to the king Mswati III who is currently ruling the country.

Another environmental issue in Swaziland is the process of breaking down trash and treating wastewater. Currently there are no or limited regulations on trash logistics. Most trash of poor communities is collected in piles and burned on the hills. This has a tremendous effect on the environment. Simultaneously, it serves for job opportunities for civil engineers to come up with applicable solutions for the societal, health, economic, and environmental issues that Swaziland is facing today.

Creating for Good on My Coast-to-Coast Run

Illona Hartman

Illona Hartman,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 24 February 2018

While I am studying for my engineering classes and practicing for the field hockey team, I am also running around Athens in preparation for my summer plans. This summer, I am running with a team of college-aged runners from coast to coast: literally from San Francisco to Baltimore.

This 4,000+ mile journey in relay form will take us 49 days, which means I will run 8-12 miles on average a day. During this “4K for Cancer,” we will be raising money and awareness for cancer. The 4K is a program of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (UCF) and this will be the 17th time UCF is sending young adults across the country.

In addition to the physical aspect of this program it will be a mental challenge as well, as my 10 month old infant cousin is currently battling myeloid leukemia.

4K Run

Studying abroad has been challenging ever since she, Leighton van Leeuwen, got diagnosed with cancer at the age of 6 months (September 2017). However, I found support in running for her and in my family away from home: Ohio University.

4K Run

Last month, the coed professional engineering fraternity Theta Tau and the Russ College of Engineering and Technology helped me set up a fundraiser in the ARC Atrium. For two days, we sold Dutch baked goods for donations and we recruited 25 students to become part of the international bone marrow registry!

4K Run

On top of this, I organized a few other fundraisers such as an online Yankee Candle sale, selling Russ College T-shirts and flowers for Valentine’s Day through Tau Beta Pi, an online sale for engraved baking supplies, a “donate my hair” auction, and a Santa Fest birthday celebration at home before I came back to the States. All of this has contributed to my current donation status of $5,700!

4K Run

4K Run

In order to secure my spot on Team Baltimore, I had to raise a $4,500 minimum goal. Even after achieving this goal, it is not in my nature to stop spreading the word. Therefore, I have some exciting fundraisers planned for the rest of the semester to finish off with a personal goal of $7,000. For instance, Chi Epsilon and I will host a fundraiser at Tavolino, and I am planning on running my first half marathon in Athens this April…

4K Run

Thus, I am extremely thankful of the opportunities given by the Russ College and the ongoing support they have given me. Something I hope everyone to experience!

For more information on my 4K you can visit my personal blog and my fundraising page:https://ulman.z2systems.com/illona-hartman

A Little Community Service

Rob Parker

Rob Parker,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 11 April 2017

Similar to the Adopt-a-Highway program around the United States, the City of Athens has an “Adopt-a-Street” program. As a community service, the Engineering Ambassadors have adopted Franklin Avenue near uptown Athens.

Adopt-a-Street

A few times a year, we gather on Franklin Avenue and do a trash pick-up. It’s a time for us to get together, have some fun, enjoy each other’s company, and do something good for the community. Though the street is never too dirty, we try and schedule a clean-up directly following a big weekend when there has been a larger-than-usual crowd in town.

This semester we did the clean-up twice. It never takes too long—about 30 minutes—and none of us mind doing it. Franklin Avenue is far enough off campus that it has a mixture of both students and full-time Athens residents, so I’m sure the full-time residents appreciate the street being cleaned.

It’s easy for us to get lost in our busy schedules and kind of put community service to the side. I know that I’m guilty of doing that from time to time. But then I’m reminded of how good I feel after participating in bettering the community that I live in. So to all of the Engineering Ambassadors that helped myself and the community this year by participating in the Franklin Avenue clean-up, I commend you and I’m excited for this tradition to continue.