Meet the Russ College’s new crop of faculty and staff members this year in this series of interviews, and stop by their offices to greet them in person.
From Toledo to Austria to Boone, N.C., Assistant Professor Michelle Surerus has landed at the Russ College’s Engineering Technology and Management program after traveling quite a bit –– by motorcycle.
How did you make your way to these parts?
I’m originally from Toledo, Ohio, but have lived many other places, most recently in Boone, N.C. The position in ETM was too exciting to pass up, so it was back to Ohio for me!
Where did you receive your education, and what was special about it?
My undergraduate and first master’s degree are from Bowling Green State University, and my second master’s and Ph.D. are from The Ohio State University. What made my education so special is the time and effort my mentors and advisors spent with me through the many years it has taken to get where I am now. They provided innumerable opportunities for professional development and showed me what it means to be an effective faculty member and participant in my field of study.
Was there a moment or time you knew you'd become a technologist?
I was bored out of my mind in theoretical business and computer programming classes as an undergraduate. During my sophomore year, I had a roommate who was a technology major who had much more interesting classes so I took some and immediately changed to a technology major where I knew that I belonged. I was hooked and still am.
What will you teach and/or research at the Russ College?
I will be teaching Power Transmission, Manufacturing this year and will add our Quality class next fall, in addition to developing a new technology elective course. My background is such that there are multiple courses in the ETM curriculum that I could teach. My research is concentrated on workforce trends and the needs of employers as it relates to post-secondary preparation. I also enjoy research related to recruitment and retention of female students in the STEM disciplines.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment?
Aside from graduating with my doctorate last December, my greatest professional accomplishment is not related to awards won -- it is seeing my students and advisees being successfully employed after graduation and seeing them thrive as they progress through their careers.
At the Russ College, we "create for good." You'll be hearing this a lot because it's true. How will you "create for good" while you're at the Russ College?
I hope that my contribution to “create for good” will be to facilitate students becoming all they can be, keeping in mind that they should be part of the solution and not the problem.
What's the most fun, weird or awesome thing about Athens so far?
I’m waiting to answer this question after I see what Halloween in Athens is all about. Until then, I’ll enjoy the festivals, farmers market and the beauty of the Athens area.
What’s the best local food you've had?
Avalanche Pizza! Wow! Now, that’s a pizza!
What do you do when you're not creating for good?
I spend a lot of time with my dogs and cat, and love riding my motorcycles and bicycles. Now that I have a big enough garage, this winter I look forward to beginning the restoration of my 1980 Corvette. It was the last Corvette that my parents rode in, so it’s a very sentimental project.
Favorite book or travel destination?
Typically business books. A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink is one that I’ve enjoyed. My favorite travel destination is just about anywhere that I can ride to on my motorcycle, especially the beach or the mountains. Of course, Austria is beyond beautiful!
Any advice for your students this semester?
Do what you love, enjoy life and be an active participant in your education. You cannot learn anything if you are not engaged in classroom activities. Leave being a zombie to television and movies, and show up to classes and meetings on time — your future employer will expect it, so get used to it now.