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Student engineering and technology leaders visit, network with alumni on business trip

Yasmeen Ebada and Colleen Carow | Oct 8, 2018
Engineering Ambassadors at Benchmark Engineering with President Tim O'Brien, BSCE '95 (far left) and Adviser Dale Masel (second from left).

Student engineering and technology leaders visit, network with alumni on business trip

Yasmeen Ebada and Colleen Carow | Oct 8, 2018

Twelve members of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology’s Karol A. and Jo Ondick Engineering Ambassador Program visited alumni and networked with future employers in Detroit earlier this month during the group’s annual corporate trip.

Chair of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Dale Masel, who led the trip, from Sept. 30-Oct 2, said both students and alumni benefited.

“Students learned about career options and the different work that different engineers do,” Masel said. “It was also a way for alumni to stay connected and give back to Ohio University. Alumni shared career advice -- and they also enjoy hearing from students about what’s going on in Athens and what professors are currently doing.”

The Engineering Ambassadors visited companies, and OHIO alumni, at Automation Alley, thanks to alumnus Jake Sigal, BSISE ’03, who is currently the company’s board president; Benchmark Engineering Group, with a presentation by president Tim O’Brien, BSCE ’95; FANUC America Corporation, where the group saw large robots in action; Fori Automation; Gardiner, with Sales Engineer Timothy Norviel, BSME ’95; Hirotec; ITS (Integrated Talent Strategies), with Andre Aouad, BBA ’17; Microchip Technology, Inc., with Senior Client Engagement Manager Dale Leisenheimer, BSEE ’93; and Parker Hannifin. 

They also shared informal time and meals with alumni including Sigal and his wife, Abbee Sigal, BSH ’04; Lennard Combs, BSME ’96; Jim Knight, BSEE ’69; Kevin Lin, BSME ’14; former Russ College Board of Visitors member Jeff Miller, BSCE ’73; Bob Overmann, BSME ’78; and Jim Satin, BSCHE ’88, who is actively involved with mechanical engineering senior design projects.

Civil engineering senior Illona Hartman, who hails from the Netherlands, said she has never been able to visit American companies before -- so seeing the offices and the floors of the American automotive industry, and getting to talk to prospective employers, made for a good learning experience. 

“It was productive -- and I was also surprised about the many technical salesmen I found, as I had no idea this is something an engineer can get into as well,” Hartman said.

Trip highlights for mechanical engineering junior Margaret Allen included the alumni connections.

“Talking to alumni was a great chance to network and see some different perspectives on the things you can do with an engineering degree and where it can lead to. We were able to see firsthand the types of engineering jobs out there after graduation,” Allen said. “I really enjoyed visiting a new city, networking with alumni, visiting engineering companies and spending time with other ambassadors.”

Combs, a senior manufacturing engineer for powertrain manufacturing engineering at Ford Motor Company, brought his 13-year-old daughter Dana Odums, who is interested in becoming an engineer, to meet with several students and play Ohio landmark trivia questions. 

Combs said the rigorous program at Russ College helped to prepare him for the real world.

“It’s continuously evolving. With this progressive change, being a student, I was forced to adapt to the swift technological trends and tools for problem solving and constantly questioning methods of text books,” he said. “This acquired knowledge of applications to real-world situations. I still challenge myself to stay current in my chosen course of study,” Combs said. 
 
Lin, a gas engine calibration engineer for General Motors who networked with the Ambassadors, their advisers, and fellow alumni over dinner, said he relies daily on the foundation he gained at the Russ College.

“The Russ College gave me the mindset and work ethic that I use in finding and resolving issues that I encounter every day, both in my job and personal life,” Lin said.

Misti Smith contributed to this story.