Isis Ilias started her college career by getting involved in every program she could find, but she soon realized she needed to prioritize.

Isis Ilias is getting her dream job before graduation
Isis Ilias is getting her dream job before graduation

Between classes and studying for finals, Isis Ilias stops by the Centro Cultural César Chávez to visit with friends. Isis works at El Centro as an office assistant but also just enjoys coming in to hang out. “It’s like my second home,” she says.

When Isis arrived at Oregon State as a freshman she had no idea what to expect. “I actually hadn’t planned on going to college,” she admits. It wasn’t until she was encouraged by her Big Sister from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program that she applied and was accepted.

Isis spent her first weeks on campus exploring her new home and was surprised by the many opportunities to get involved. “I attended as many events as I could and just started signing up wherever they needed volunteers,” she says. “There is just so much going on here!”

Realizing that she couldn’t do it all, Isis narrowed her commitments down to a couple of groups. As the Political Action Co-Chair for MEChA, Isis helps organize events to raise awareness about access to education for Chicanos. As a member of the ASOSU’s Disabled Student Affairs Task Force she works to advocate for students with disabilities. She also started the Capoeria Club, with the intention of teaching others about Capoeria (Brazilian martial arts).

Isis plans to tell her younger brother and sister about the opportunities she’s had during her first year at OSU. “I hope it encourages them to also consider attending college,” she says.

Centro Cultural César Chávez website

OSU MEChA website

ASOSU Disabled Student Affairs Task Force

An international expert on honeybees is better known at OSU for teaching a “far out” course.

Michael Bugett is teaching a "far out" course
Michael Bugett is teaching a "far out" course

Michael Burgett’s Far Side Entomology course is so popular that even though he’s officially retired, he has started offering it twice a year instead of once.

Earlier this year, in fact, National Public Radio selected Far Side Entomology as one of the nation’s most popular college courses.

Using entomological cartoons by Gary Larson and others, Burgett encourages his students to take an in-depth look at the more serious aspects of insects and their relevance to human activities. “Each two-member team does four presentations per term. I give them two cartoons and some entomological reference works to start. They can then go off on any tangents they want,” Burgett says.

The course is filled with humor, but it also involves serious learning. “Each team will have four entomological themes, and they really dig into those and learn the material pretty deeply. They also say they improve their speaking skills,” Burgett says. “Students do 10-12 minute presentations, but they have to spend three or four hours putting each one together. That’s where they learn.”

It’s no surprise that Burgett’s a good teacher. It’s what he always wanted to do, and he received his bachelor’s degree in education in 1966.

“Then 17 days later I got my draft notice,” he says. “I was assigned to a medical lab’s entomology division, so I did medical entomology for two years.”

That interested him in entomology, so he applied to Cornell University for graduate work in the field. “They had one graduate assistantship available, and it was in honeybees. So I went into honeybees,” he says. “People ask me if I’ve always loved honeybees. Actually, it was just a matter of money, but it has developed at least into a large affection.”

Over the years the wild honeybee population in the United States has been devastated by mites, but commercial populations have been saved by chemical controls developed by Burgett and others at OSU and other western universities.

Burgett still finds time for honeybee research, but much of it is done in Thailand because most honeybee varieties are found in Asia. And he plans to continue finding time to teach Far Side Entomology.

“I’m still excited about teaching, so I’ll continue to do it,” he says.

Michael Burgett’s website

OSU news release on NPR selection of the course

NPR story on Burgett class (includes audio)

OSU student engineers finished first and third in cars they designed and built for the 2004 Mini-Baja West competition.

Team members pose in front of the award winning design
Team members pose in front of the award winning design

Battling a dirt and rock strewn course near Portland–as well as more than 90 teams from schools as far away as Florida and Mexico–OSU students finished first and third overall in the Society of Automotive Engineers 2004 Mini-Baja West competition.

Belinda King, head of OSU’s department of Mechanical Engineering, said winning first and third is an unprecedented accomplishment for the OSU engineering program. The students competed with students from some of the nation’s best engineering programs on a grueling course that included crawling over huge boulders and logs, as well as a four-hour endurance leg.

And the finish was no fluke. In 2003, an OSU team finished second in the same competition at Logan, Utah.

The interdisciplinary OSU team, coached by mechanical engineering professor Bob Paasch, designed, modeled, tested, and built the racers.

“This definitely shows that OSU’s hands-on approach to engineering education works and works well,” King said.

It worked well for the students pictured above with one of the winning cars. Darren Johnson (right) graduated in June of 2004 went to work at Warn Industries, where he had previously done an internship, and is now a design engineer at the company.

After the team’s victory at the competition, David Elia (left) was contacted by recreational vehicle manufacturer Polaris with an offer of a paid internship. “This is my dream job, and I got it before graduation,” says Elia, now a senior. “And the amazing thing is they called me!”

News release on OSU group’s mini-Baja win

OSU mini-Baja group home page

OSU Department of Mechanical Engineering

Skip Rochefort interests kids in engineering by showing them that it is fun and exciting.

Skip Rochefort working with younger students
Skip Rochefort working with younger students

When Skip Rochefort arrives at work each day, he’s ready to have fun–and maybe play a part in making the world a better place.

“All the best students want to save the world,” says Rochefort, associate professor of chemical engineering and director of OSU’s Precollege Programs. “So we want to recruit these kids to study engineering here at Oregon State.”

He plays his role in this with creative programs that make engineering exciting, interesting, and extremely hands-on. He hooks students when they’re young and believe in dreams. He keeps them engaged.

Rochefort seems perfect for inspiring young minds. He’s a bit of a kid at heart and loves what he does. His desk is cluttered with Silly Putty, a “grow shark” gel toy, Gumby and Pokey bendable toys, the absorbent polymer from baby diapers, a foam “cheese head” hat, and a mix of other “hands-on learning tools” that any kid would find irresistible. To local school students, he is known fondly and simply as “Dr. Skip.”

His main research interest, polymer science, offers a highly effective connection to children. Every kid likes to make goop or gel, he says. “We can talk about Silly Putty and Jell-O, and they get excited about chemical engineering.”

His programs come with cool names and acronyms like SESEY, SKIES, E-Camp, AWSEM, and LEGO Robotics Camp. How can kids resist? The Summer Experience in Science and Engineering for Youth (SESEY) is a one-week summer research program for high school girls and ethnic minorities co-directed by Rochefort, Chemical Engineering professor Michelle Bothwell, and graduate student Jason Hower. SKIES stands for Spirited Kids in Engineering and Science, an 11-week summer camp for K-8th graders in collaboration with KidSpirit, directed by Karen Swanger.

E-Camp is an engineering camp for middle school kids that Rochefort established with Ellen Ford of Saturday Academy. At LEGO Robotics Camp, middle schoolers learn engineering concepts using LEGOs, in a course developed and taught by Chemical Engineering colleague Keith Levien.

Advocates for Women in Science, Engineering, and Math (AWSEM) is an awesome experience that connects middle school girls with women role models.

“Every day I can go home and say I’ve had some influence,” he says. “My motto is, ‘do what you like and like what you do.’ Nothing else matters.”

News release on Skip Rochefort’s programs

Skip Rochefort’s chemical engineering page

SESEY website

OSU Precollege Programs

Article in College of Engineering newsletter

Future ocean research instruments may create their own fuel by “eating” plankton.

Reimers is working on plankton fuel cell technology
Reimers is working on plankton fuel cell technology

During the past couple of years scientists have been able to use decomposing organic matter on the ocean floor to create fuel cells that can provide low levels of electrical power for months.

Now OSU researchers have gone a step farther, creating the same power-producing decomposition activity from plankton taken at the surface.

While the fuel cells on the floor provide power for equipment that doesn’t move, such as listening devices for earthquakes, this new development holds greater promise.

“By harnessing plankton power, we potentially could fuel autonomous mobile instruments that would glide through the water scooping up plankton like a basking shark, and converting that to electricity,” says Clare E. Reimers, a professor in the College of Oceanographic and Atmospheric Sciences at OSU and director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies, a collaborative effort between OSU and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The power generated by the plankton isn’t large-scale, but if a free-gliding ocean instrument used the plankton in its path, it might extend its survey mission for months, or even years.

“The fuel is there–in the mud, or in the plankton,” says Reimers. “Our focus is on developing power for oceanographic equipment. Who knows what spin-offs will develop beyond that?”

Meanwhile the sea floor research goes on. In October Reimers, who works out of a lab in OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center at Newport, led a cruise off the Oregon coast where researchers deployed eight fuel cell prototypes along the ocean shelf. The instrumentation packages will stay imbedded in the sediment about 20 kilometers offshore for a year and then be recovered.

Plankton Power news article

Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies

A little creative thinking, a planning committee, and a pair of talented students turned routine repainting in the College of Pharmacy into a work of art.

Students work on the mural in the College of Pharmacy
Students work on the mural in the College of Pharmacy

When OSU Facilities Services painter Charles Vail and his manager, Joe Majeski, were discussing the need for an interior repainting for the Pharmacy Building, they wondered if they could achieve their department’s mission: “to wow” with something as routine as that.

“When we got to the west entrance, we noticed a beautiful frame with nothing in it,” Vail says. “That led to a ‘what if’ and ‘why not’ discussion of the possibility of murals.” Majeski gave the go-ahead and the idea was off and running.

Vail located an art student, Emidio Lopez and contacted the art department where he found another student, Kim Smith, interested in working on the project. A committee, led by pharmacy professor Lee Strandberg, developed a plan for the murals to depict the past and the future of pharmacy.

With the help of Kay Cooke, director of external relations in Pharmacy, things moved rapidly. Miller Paint Company donated the paint, Facilities Services provided the scaffolding, the College of Pharmacy gave Emidio and Kim a stipend, and the art department agreed to give the students project credit for their creative efforts.

“This has truly been a team effort,” says Vail.

The unveiling of the murals took place during the homecoming celebration on October 23.

College of Pharmacy

Department of Art

Jeff Olivas rode across the country this summer to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities.

Jeff Olivas rode 3,900 miles on his bike across America
Jeff Olivas rode 3,900 miles on his bike across America

Jeff Olivas has never been an avid bicyclist. He biked occasionally, but never really went on long rides. Until this year, that is. In January he started riding a lot, getting in over 1,000 miles in just a few months.

The reason for the change is the opportunity to help others by riding his bicycle. The OSU Business Administration senior has volunteered to help with Push America, Pi Kappa Phi’s national philanthropy, since joining the fraternity in 2002.

This year he went the extra mile—or the extra 3,900 miles to be more precise, participating in the Journey of Hope, a 64-day bike ride from San Francisco to Charleston, South Carolina, which raises nearly $500,000 each year for those with disabilities.

The ride involves 70 members of the fraternity, half of them riding across the southern states and half across the northern states. Each participant is required to raise at least $5,000 for charity. Jeff, a member of the northern team, has raised about $6,200.

“Each day the team rides until about 4 p.m.,” he says. “After that we get out in the community of whatever town we’re in and raise awareness and make friendship visits with kids with disabilities.”

After riding 60 miles or more in a day, the participants often find themselves active well into the evening, dancing during a friendship visit, playing a game of wheelchair basketball, or performing a puppet show for children.

Jeff says he was honored to be part of the Journey of Hope because many Pi Kappa Phi members apply each year, but only 70 are accepted.

Greek Life at Oregon State University

OSU Pi Kappa Phi chapter information

Journey of Hope website

Ariko Iso, OSU Exercise and Sport Science graduate, is the National Football League’s first female athletic trainer.

Iso is the frist female athletic trainer
Iso is the frist female athletic trainer

When she was 14 and living in Japan, Ariko Iso didn’t appear headed to the NFL–or even to the U.S. Then she suffered an ACL injury playing sports, and during her recovery she had the opportunity to talk to college athletic trainers. That experience convinced her that she wanted to be a Certified Athletic Trainer herself–and that she wanted to go to college in the United States.

At that point, she says, a little luck entered the picture. She and her parents met then-Exercise and Sport Science department head Chris Zauner, who was lecturing in Japan. They talked about the possibility of her attending Oregon State. A short time later she was studying at OSU, receiving her degree in 1993 with an option in athletic training.

She worked as a trainer for college women’s and men’s basketball teams, eventually making an NFL contact at a conference.

Five years later, after a lot of hard work, perseverance, and two summer internships, she was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an assistant athletic trainer. She’s now in her second year of experiencing life as an NFL trainer.

Pittsburgh Steelers home page

The world’s largest tsunami wave tank may help reduce death and destruction caused by the big waves. Photo by Sol Neelman, The Oregonian

Visitors watch the wave lab in action
Visitors watch the wave lab in action

With more than half the U.S. population living within 50 miles of a coastline, the danger of a devastating tsunami is very real.

Tsunamis, usually caused by undersea earthquakes, move at the speed of a jetliner and can travel great distances. The waves can be more than 100 feet high as they come ashore and often rush miles inland over low-lying land.

Even distant earthquakes can result in serious tsunami damage. For example, a magnitude 9.2 earthquake that rocked Alaska in 1964 generated a tsunami that killed four children at Beverly Beach on the Oregon coast and killed 11 more people in Crescent City, California. In addition, it caused damage at Seaside, Newport, and other Oregon coastal communities.

Enter OSU’s new Tsunami Wave Basin at the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory on campus.

By combining the latest in information technology with earthquake engineering, the facility, funded by a $4.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation, will enable researchers anywhere in the world to participate remotely in real-time experiments in the basin.

Using the basin, researchers will study how tsunamis behave in different kinds of ocean terrain, depths, and distances, along with the impacts they have when they reach land. “What we’re really interested in is what happens when a tsunami hits a coastline where people are,” says Dan Cox, director of the Hinsdale facility.

Harry Yeh, an OSU civil engineering professor and renowned tsunami researcher, said tsunamis are too unpredictable to allow scientists to conduct research in the field. “With this system, we can model bays and rivers to see how we can mitigate the damaging effects of a tsunami,” he says.

The tsunami basin is one of three wave tanks at the Hinsdale research lab, which has been used for studying the effects of waves since 1972.

The public will have an opportunity to see the facility in action during an open house October 16-18.

OSU news release on basin opening

Oregonian article on basin dedication

Wave basin produces Time Picture of the Week

Wave research laboratory home page

Tsunami facility open house set October 16-18

Aerin Holman combines her apparel design major and her love for the theater–with outstanding results.

Holman in her element
Holman in her element

When it comes to theater, Aerin Holman has done it all.

The apparel design major from the tiny Willamette Valley town of Monroe, Oregon, has been involved with OSU’s University Theatre throughout her college career.

“She has acted in a variety of shows and has played major roles,” says Marion Rossi, faculty member in the Theatre. “She also has designed costumes, stage managed, done set design, and even worked in the costume shop.”

It’s costume design, a combination of her major and theater involvement, that has brought her the most acclaim. Working with theater professors Barbara Mason and Charlotte Headrick, Aerin conducted period research and designed all of the costumes for the OSU Theatre production of Henry V. It’s unusual enough for an undergraduate to be given the responsibility for costume design on a main stage production, but she did it so well that she won a regional award for costume design at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

This summer, Aerin is capping off her college career with an internship at the Central City Opera House near Denver, Colorado. A long way from Monroe.

Meanwhile, the OSU Theatre continues its tradition of producing a Shakespeare play each summer. This year’s production of “As You Like It” is scheduled for August 7, 8, 9 and 14, 15, 16, with a revival October 2, 3, and 4.

OSU Theatre home page

Summer Shakespeare play at OSU