Russ College Engineering Ambassadors
Photo courtesy of: Russ College of Engineering and Technology
Jan 18, 2013
By Adrienne Cornwall and Colleen Carow
The Engineering Ambassadors program at Ohio University's Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology has gotten a boost – a $200,000 charitable gift from electrical engineering graduate Karol A. Ondick and his wife, Jo.
The 20 students, who represent all Russ College departments, are a key component of recruiting efforts. They also host distinguished visitors and staff major events for the college.
The Ondicks' gift, which names the program the Karol A. and Jo Ann Ondick Engineering Ambassadors Program, will fund the program's operating expenses, including annual stipends paid to the ambassadors, and future expansion of the program – for good.
"Karol and Jo have been the strongest supporters of our Engineering Ambassadors program, and the ambassadors themselves, since the program's beginnings in 2000," said Russ College Dean Dennis Irwin.
Ondick, a 1955 alumnus, cites memorable moments during his longstanding membership on the Russ College Board of Visitors as a motivator in the investment.
"I've had firsthand experience of the value of the Engineering Ambassador program through the years," said Dayton-native Ondick, now an emeritus board member of both the Russ College board and the OHIO Foundation Board. "The program goes beyond the classroom. It gives them greater exposure and an outlook on things in a different way, such as what it's like to be a member of the team and how they can contribute to the college. This helps them later in life."
Providing a face to the Russ College and acting as an earnest resource for prospective students' questions, Engineering Ambassadors develop communications skills by supporting high-visibility recruiting events throughout the year and leading group and individual prospective student tours. They also gain networking skills and opportunities by staffing alumni events and attending Board of Visitors activities, with the president and vice president participating in one meeting each year.
"Karol has told me on more than one occasion how impressed he is by these students and their professionalism," said Dale Masel, associate professor and undergraduate chair in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and the group's adviser. "This donation demonstrates how much they appreciate the ambassadors and the service that they provide to the Russ College."
Former ambassador Tom Moehring, a 2006 mechanical engineering graduate, says the experiences that benefit them long after graduation.
"As an Engineering Ambassador, I had a one-of-a-kind opportunity to contribute to the Russ College while getting exposure to engineering industry leaders," said Tom Moehring, now a lead project engineer at GE. "The experience taught me leadership and professional skills that serve me to this day."
Karol A. Ondick, a member of the Russ College's Academy of Distinguished Graduates, was one of the first employees of Systems Research Laboratories, the Dayton-area company founded by the Fritz and Dolores Russ in 1955. Russ recruited him from the National Security Agency, where he provided engineering support of large-scale, high-speed, digital computers. Ondick and his wife eventually became lifelong friends of the couple, with Karol and Fritz serving side by side on the board for decades.
"The Engineering Ambassadors program is good way to promote the Russ College and the university, as well as improve the students' confidence and get them involved," he said.
The gift supports Ohio University's The Promise Lives Campaign, a $450 million campaign to support scholarships, faculty, the student experience, facilities, and community outreach. Thus far, the campaign, which ends in June 2015, has raised more than $411 million.