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Engineering professor tests skill on 'Jeopardy!' game show

ATHENS, Ohio (Dec. 15, 2004) -- "What is Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering Dale Masel?"

That would be the answer to the "Jeopardy!" question about the Ohio University professor who has participated in two national TV game shows.

Dale MaselMasel, of the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology, competes on "Jeopardy!" Tues., Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. on local CBS stations. Four years ago, Masel was a contestant on ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

Masel lost halfway through the game on "Millionaire" when relying on the audience to learn the capital of Australia. He says he's more satisfied with his performance on "Jeopardy!" but isn't giving any clues to just how well he did.

"For 'Millionaire,' I did the show the day after arriving in New York, and it aired the next day. With 'Jeopardy,' I had some time to think about how to approach the game."

Masel tried out for "Jeopardy!" at Columbus auditions in August at the suggestion of his sister, an Ohio University alumna. After a two-hour wait in line, he took a 10-question test designed to weed out the "pretenders." He was asked to return the following day to take the 50-question test. It was the same as the one he took when trying out for "College Jeopardy!"- single answers required for a variety of topics. Although he passed back then, he didn't make it past the interview stage.

This time, he moved on to a mock game of "Jeopardy!" and soon after received a call asking if he could be in California within a week for taping.

"It was less than a month from the time I heard about tryouts until my taping was finished," Masel said.

Once at the studio, the upcoming contestants rotated in practice games before taping. According to Masel, the toughest part was getting the hang of the buzzer.

"You have to wait until Alex Trebek finishes reading the question and a light comes on under the board," he explained. "I did better with it in practice than in the actual game."

A week's worth of shows are taped in one day, with contestants chosen at random to be challengers. It just so happened that recent Jeopardy! $2.5 million champ Ken Jennings' last show was taped the week before Masel arrived in California.

Masel, who also applied for ""Jeopardy! Teen Tournament" in high school, says it's a relief to have finally done it.

"People have encouraged me for so long, even at my high school reunion," he said.

His companion in California was particularly pleased to attend the taping - Masel's mother has been watching "Jeopardy!" since it first aired.

Masel says he feels he has the capability to be competitive and do as well as other contestants have. "It's fun to challenge myself and see if I can really do it," he said. "But it's a lot easier playing along at home than in person," he added.

When asked if any more game shows are in his future, Masel says friends have suggested "Wheel of Fortune," but he is intrigued by "The Amazing Race" because of its demands on intelligence and surmounting obstacles.

And while he didn't even watch his "Millionaire" tape until four years later - he was traveling home when it originally aired - Masel plans to watch "Jeopardy!" the day it airs, in the Columbus area with family and friends.

"If nothing else, there's no single 'capital of Australia' question people can keep asking me," he said.

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Media Contact: Russ College Director of External Relations Colleen Girton, (740) 593-1488 or girtonc@ohio.edu, or Media Specialist Jack Jeffery, ( 740) 597-1793 or jefferyj@ohio.edu

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