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Photo of technical tour at Avionics Engineering Center

Members of OSPE take a technical tour of the Avionics Engineering Center during the group's conference.

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Russ College spotlights societal impacts for statewide engineers conference

Featuring a focus on "Socially Responsive and Responsible Engineering," Ohio University's Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology hosted the Ohio Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) spring conference and annual meeting in Athens on June 13-15.

More than 100 professional engineers in every discipline from across Ohio attended three days of professional development, educational programming and social activities on campus. Events included presentations on shale oil and the future of sustainable energy at Ohio University, technical tours of several Russ College research facilities and a welcome reception hosted by Russ College Dean Dennis Irwin at the Ohio University Inn.

Educational programming by presenters from the Russ College and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs covered energy topics including air quality, water quality, and transportation issues related to shale oil and gas; alternative fuels; clean coal; and developments in avionics technology.

"Ohio University and the Russ College in particular offer meaningful education on the latest developments in all things energy — from shale to coal to fuel cells and more," said Tim Schaffer, OSPE's executive director. "Ohio University is perfectly situated to attract the top research and academic talent in each of these areas. These folks are not just book-savvy. They are world-class professionals who are deeply immersed in their respective fields and industries."

Attendees also visited four facilities: the Institute for Corrosion and Multiphase Technology, the Avionics Engineering Center, the Sustainable Energy and Advanced Materials lab, and the Ohio Research Institute for Transportation and the Environment.

A legislative luncheon during the event featured Craig Butler, Gov. Kasich's assistant policy director on energy issues, who updated attendees on the state's energy policy, Utica shale development and other issues under consideration by the General Assembly.

Cross-disciplinary understanding among professional engineers in Ohio was a primary goal for organizers.

"In my involvement with the OSPE, it became clear that practicing engineers and engineering faculty had very limited information about what each group actually does professionally," said Irwin. "This is a great first step in improving our mutual understanding, but there is still work to be done."

Two OSPE members, Scott Sands and Howard Jones, were named fellows of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) at the gathering. The honor is reserved for members who show long-term commitment to serving the organization at local, state and national levels.

"It's a great honor to be recognized by your peers in the profession after being involved in OSPE and NSPE for many years, for most of my career," said Sands, an OSPE member since 1987 and president of regional civil engineering and surveying firm Sands Decker CPS. "It's very humbling and very nice to receive such an award from the NSPE board of directors."

OSPE and its not-for-profit affiliate Engineers Foundation of Ohio (EFO) also honored members with annual awards recognizing service to the profession and community. Irwin and Owen March, a retired civil engineer, were honored with the EFO President's Award for their service to the foundation, which provides math and science enrichment opportunities for elementary, middle and secondary school students in Ohio.

"The conference showed that what we do is truly engineering, and we do it for the right reasons: graduate education and forwarding the body of knowledge of engineering," Irwin said.