Ryan Holmes Receives Prestigious ASCE Fellowship!

Recently, SCE Ph.D. student, Ryan Holmes, was awarded a prestigious American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Fellowship. Ryan took the time to share more about his fellowship, his interest in civil engineering, and why he decided to come to UMKC.

1.Congratulations on being awarded an ASCE Fellowship! Can you tell us more about it?

Thank you! The ASCE Freeman Fellowship is a national fellowship set up by one of ASCE’s past presidents, John R. Freeman, in 1924 to encourage future civil engineers working in hydraulics and hydraulic engineering. Hydraulic engineering is a subset of civil engineering dealing with water flow systems especially for the purpose of providing clean water. For my submission I described some of my work towards modeling flow through a unique filter system we are developing here at UMKC.

2.What first drew you to civil engineering?

I have wanted to be a civil engineer since middle school. I was drawn to civil engineering because it provides the best of two worlds, creative inventiveness and practical application. Lots of people have great ideas but lack the understanding of the systems to build them. Alternatively, others know the places where improvements are needed but don’t have the time or energy to explore the innumerable, potential solutions. I want to interface between these two groups as having both the knowledge of available answers and the understanding of how those solutions can be implemented.

3. What have you learned from working with your mentor, Dr. Hart?

Dr. Hart has taught me that multifaceted knowledge base is the core of all civil engineers. Her expertise in soils, geochemistry, and hydrogeology has been an invaluable resource to me. She also has practical experience in environmental engineering. While I’m work towards developing a filter for purifying groundwater, she helps direct my inquisitiveness towards solving the practical side – the chemistry of clean water – and addressing the questions around implementation – how to explain this process to people in the Environmental Protection Agency or Department of Defense.

4.What made you decide to come to UMKC?

I decided to come to UMKC because I was born and raised in Kansas City. I wanted to go to a school that had a reputation for civil engineering and a community impact – so UMKC was a natural choice. There are UMKC graduates at almost every engineering firm in the city and at most construction, concrete, or mining facilities. I think this is not just a reflection on the quality of civil engineers UMKC produces, but the way the program is structured to integrate future engineers with the existing local experts.

5.What advice would you give to undergraduate engineering students?

My advice for undergraduates is firstly to cultivate relationships with the people in your classes and in your internships. These will be the people you will go to for help or job placement in the future. Secondly, keep leaning in to learning everything you can, but be humble enough to admit you don’t know everything.

Visiting Student Benoît de Patoul Is Mapping a Better Future.

Our blogger, Molly Gilstrap, recently interviewed a visiting student from Belgium about his research and time at UMKC.

Benoît de Patoul is working towards a master’s degree from the ECAM Brussels School of Engineering in Industrial Engineering. Read on to hear about his wildfire research and how the Midwest weather was something entirely new.

1. Tell us more about the research you have been working on!
The research is about mapping the vegetation loss on radar images after a wildfire. When I talk to people about the research, they often ask me the same question: “Why do you need to map that?” The answer: It allows us to save human lives. You are probably wondering why, right?

A heavy rain after a wildfire can result in breakouts of mudflow or debris flow, which can threaten residential communities and even kill people. Knowing where the burned areas are located is critical for agencies to prepare people for secondary hazards.

The idea of the algorithm is to take two radar images, one before and one after the fire. Using these two images, the algorithm will detect the changes and classify them. The image below shows some of our results. The red represents the burned areas, the black shows the changes in the urban area, the green shows the changes in the vegetation, and the blue represents areas with no change.

2. What peaked your interest in this project?
I have always wanted to conduct my research in the United States, so I started looking and asking around to see if someone could offer me the right opportunity. The first person to contact me was Dr. Chen at UMKC SCE. He offered me different subjects, but this particular one had a connection to NASA and image processing. I directly seized the opportunity, not only because it was related to NASA, but because it was going to be very challenging for me.

3. Did you come across any obstacles or challenges?
Yes, a lot of challenges and obstacles. First, there is a lot of theory I had to learn in a very short time. Second, I had to develop an algorithm to accomplish the objectives of the research. That’s very challenging because it’s a long process and as you develop the algorithm, you will always have obstacles that can take a lot of time to overcome.

4. How has your experience been as a visiting student?
I really loved this experience. Discovering a new culture is something completely unique. I would encourage anybody to try it! It a very enriching experience, I learned a lot about myself and I made a lot of good friends.

5. How have you liked living in Kansas City?
I was living near the Country Club Plaza on campus in the Oak Place apartments. Kansas City is a very beautiful city with very friendly people. I would certainly recommend it. The city has good public transportation and it is free for UMKC students. The weather can be kind of weird because it can radically change from one day to another, but you get used to it.

6. What are your future plans?
I’m completing my master’s degree this year. I really like to learn new things and I’ve been accepted to do another master’s degree in Technology Management at University College London. It is not an easy task to be accepted, but I think what really helped me was choosing to do my research abroad, especially in United States.

 

Why KC?

5 Things To Know If You’re Moving To Kansas City

By: Molly Gilstrap, Computer Science Sophomore, St. Louis Native

1. I hope you’re hungry.
While this city is known for its barbecue, KC has a wide variety of dining options for whatever you’re craving. My favorite place to eat is The Westside Local. They have an on-site garden with herbs and vegetables and everything on the menu is delicious! Oh, and it may not be considered “fine dining”, but you have to go to Winstead’s Diner and ask for a Skyscraper Soda. You’re Welcome.

2. You’re a Royals fan now.
I came to Kansas City from St. Louis and foolishly thought that since the two cities weren’t that far apart, there were bound to be some Cardinals fans there right? Wrong. It’s a sea of blue here, so you’ll have to cancel your membership to Cardinals Nation (or whatever baseball team you’re a fan of) for the time being and buy yourself a new jersey.

3. You can shop till you drop!
UMKC’s campus is within walking distance of the Country Club Plaza. It has H&M, Kendra Scott, Urban Outfitters, Coach, Burberry, Forever 21, and more. I personally go for the popcorn and candy at Topsy’s, but that’s just me.

4. Take some time to enjoy the view.
One of my favorite places to go is the Liberty Memorial at the National WWI Museum. You can look out over the top and see Kansas City in all its glory! It’s pretty in the daytime, but I think the view is the best at night. Very Instagram-worthy.

5. You’ll have another reason to look forward to Friday’s.
Every first Friday of the month, the Crossroads Arts District hosts First Friday’s where you can enjoy live music, food trucks, art vendors, galleries, pop up shops, and more! You could even take a ride on the cool new KC streetcar to get there!

So let me be the first to say welcome to Kansas City! With food, music, art, activities, and lots of Midwestern charm, KC is a great place to be!

Interview Tips

Kansas City hosted the National Society of Black Engineers Annual Convention in March 2017. Students from across the country gathered in Bartle Hall to interact with employers from around the globe. Resumes were exchanged, interviews conducted, and offers made. It was a flurry of activity and opportunity. I asked a group of HR professionals for a few tips that I could share with SCE students. Here’s what they had to say!

1) Bring your enthusiasm. Employers want to know your credentials, but in addition to that, they want to know your personality. Energy and excitement make for a memorable first impression. In a sea of faces and resumes, how will you stand out?

2) Practice your story. There’s nothing more embarrassing than getting flustered in an interview. Stumbling over your words, freezing up and becoming paralyzed is not a good look. It sounds extreme, but my HR insiders assured me it happens all the time. You can prevent this by rehearsing your story. Be able to explain who you are, what your interests are, and why you are a good fit for the position.

3) Do your research. Every company rep I talked to said the same thing: do your research. You need to learn about the company with which you plan to interview. Take a look at their website, understand what they do, and dig a little bit deeper. Remember, you are competing with your peers for opportunities—whether that’s an internship or a full-time job—so distinguish yourself by your depth of knowledge about the company.

4) Showcase your leadership. There’s a misconception that companies are looking to hire employees, they’re not. They are looking to hire leaders. When was the last time you were in a leadership role? If you can’t think of any, then it’s time to get involved. Student teams and organizations are great way to accumulate those experiences and develop your ability to lead.

5) Prepare your questions. The interview process includes time for you to answer questions and ask questions. Be prepared for both. One HR professional mentioned that if you don’t have anything prepared to ask, it’s quickly noticed. He then suggested that students should ask a question of the interviewer, “How long have you worked at XYZ Company, and what has kept you there?” Once that answer is given, you can follow up with a second question regarding something they said in their initial response.

The Roman philosopher Seneca stated, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” If you follow these tips, you’re not guaranteed a job, but they will increase your odds. For more information about preparing for an interview, check out the UMKC Career Services website at http://career.umkc.edu/.

Micah Hildreth
Assistant Director of Recruitment
School of Computing and Engineering
University of Missouri – Kansas City

Alumni Q+A: Sean Eisler

Sean O’Neill Eisler
Vice President, Henderson Engineers, Inc.
Class of 1993
Current City: Parkville, Missouri  Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Find me on Twitter! @seaneisler

What is something that you wish was available to you as a student that current students at UMKC have access to?  

The access to technology and the information it unlocks was not available when I was at UMKC.  No email, no google searches, and the computer we had access to was a mainframe that ran on UNIX.  I didn’t see my first personal computer until my junior year, and it was running DOS.  Email and the world wide web didn’t become available until a couple of years after I graduated.

What project have you worked on that you are the most proud of?  

The projects that I am most proud of are the ones we undertake after natural disasters have struck.  It’s amazing to watch Mother Nature take a big, stout, commercial building and do the damage it’s capable of doing.  It’s also amazingly sad to see the toll that is taken on the human element of the aftermath.

We were involved with quite a bit of work in the gulf coast after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as well as several retail and education projects in the after the Joplin, Missouri tornado in 2011.  Watching the commercial construction community come together in a time of crisis and rebuild what once was is inspiring and gives me a lot of pride in my work and our industry.

How has the field of engineering changed since you started working?

AutoCAD was in the process of being adopted when I graduated from UMKC.  I interviewed at five consulting firms around Kansas City and two of them were still using manual drafting. Part of the reason I joined Henderson Engineers was because every engineer had their own PC and they were designing 100% in a CAD environment. Now our industry is moving from designing in a 2D environment in AutoCAD to the 3D BIM environment of Revit.

What advice do you have for students entering the field?  

My dad once told me that the only thing college does is teach you how to learn.  What is in your head the day you graduate is a foundation. It’s not everything you will need to know to pursue the career you have in front of you.  In fact, you will discover how much more you don’t know about engineering once you are out of school.  My dad also told me that it’s not what you know that’s important.  What’s important is knowing where to go to find the correct answer.  College prepares you to be able to learn without the structure of a classroom and a teacher.  You have to teach yourself once you get your diploma.

What had you choose UMKC?

I knew I was going have to work my way through college, and I didn’t like the idea of going away to school.  My Dad went to UMKC in the 50’s, so I was already familiar with the school.  As it turned out, not only did my Dad and I get degrees at UMKC, my wife, my brother and his wife,  mother in-law and father in-law, and my wife’s brother and his wife, all went to UMKC.  There’s 9 of us total.

UMKC Baja Racing Team Placed 11th In The World At Recent Championship

UMKC’s Baja Buggy Team recently returned from Baja SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) in California as champions! This event was the first of three international competitions hosted in the United States by SAE. UMKC Baja Vice President, project design lead and senior in mechanical engineering, Alex Eckhoff, shared more about the team’s experience at this year’s competition.

This year we went into the competition with our biggest rival being ourselves. The previous school record for the Baja competition was placing 21st overall (typically out of 100-120 teams). With that in mind, we were determined to be within the top twenty.

As a team, we faced many challenges. From failing technical inspection for various parts to being audited for the first time in UMKC history, we didn’t let any obstacle keep us from pursuing our goal.

As far as the results, we broke several school records! We placed 13th in Cost, 11th in Acceleration, and 14th in Suspension. We also placed 8th in design, 29th in Maneuverability, and 25th in Hill Climb. We placed 11th overall, just three points shy from being in the top ten.

We are very proud of our team this year and have set our goals even higher for the following competitions. Our goal now is to get in the top 10 and push for top 5 in the world.

To do this, we will focus on fixing any damage to the car caused by the competition, streamlining our design presentations, perfecting our sales presentation and performing CVT tuning which will benefit performance as well as design.

We have made more friends with other teams and have gained a positive reputation with judges at competition. All in all, we couldn’t be more thrilled to compete again at Pittsburg State University later this month.

Story by Alex Eckhoff and Molly Gilstrap.

Baja SAE® consists of competitions that simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. Engineering students are tasked to design and build an off-road vehicle that will survive incredibly rough terrain. Each team’s goal is to design and build a single-seat, all-terrain, sporting vehicle. The vehicle is to be a prototype for a reliable, maintainable, ergonomic, and economic production vehicle which serves a recreational user market.

UMKC Steel Bridge Team Heads to Nationals!

Recently, in partnership with MacGillivray Freeman Films, and presented by the Bechtel Corporation, ASCE held a screening of Dream Big: Engineering Our World. The purpose of the film is to inform the public about the important work engineers do, inspire young people to consider pursuing careers in the engineering field, and answer the demand for K-12 engineering education resources. UMKC’s Steel Bridge Team was able to participate in this incredible outreach event. Read on to hear from the team’s fabrication captain, Jon Daldalian, who shared his experience from the event and being a part of steel bridge.

Tell us more about your recent event.

The event was held at Cinetopia and Prairiefire Museum. The over 1,500 students in attendance viewed the film, MacGillivray Freeman’s Dream Big: Engineering Our World, which highlights engineering as a viable and necessary career option by showcasing some of the most impressive projects engineers work on. The Steele Bridge Team supported the event by bringing our new competition bridge as a display for the students to observe. We also brought several versions of bridges from past years to highlight the different ways teams have completed the same project.

What value has the steel bridge team added to your education?

The Steel Bridge Team has given me the opportunity to apply problem solving skills I’ve learned in the classroom. Each and every day spent fabricating the bridge has been filled with problem after problem. Learning to work around these inevitable issues makes seeing the completed bridge very satisfying. It’s easy for engineers to draw designs that look and behave in a way that make sense to them. However, in many cases fabrication is nearly impossible. Working through daily issues has taught me to improvise, adapt, and overcome no matter the circumstances. As a member of the team’s leadership, I’ve also learned to better manage my own time as well as the time of my team members.

Why are you involved?

I’ve found that being involved provides many educational opportunities that aren’t available in the classroom. For civil engineers in particular, the opportunity to volunteer provides a wonderful way to interact with the community. My role as fabrication captain has also provided me with the opportunity to improve my leadership, time management, and interpersonal communication skills.

How do you hope to impact young people through this kind of outreach?

I was never exposed to the engineering field as a child. Engineering didn’t seem like a viable career option to me until I was already in my mid-20’s. I hope to impact children in the community by teaching them how broad, flexible, and rewarding a STEM degree can be.

 

At the end of April, the Steel Bridge Team traveled to the University of Arkansas to compete in the 2017 Mid-Continent Regional ASCE Student Competition. UMKC won 5 out of the 7 awards including stiffest, fastest build, economy, display, and 2nd overall.

Qualifying for nationals was no easy feat considering the skill level of the teams this year and the fact that only the top two teams qualify! UMKC’s Steel Bridge Team will now have the chance to showcase their bridge design and craftsmanship to the rest of the nation!

Click here to donate to support their trip to nationals

 

Alumni Q+A: Srinivas Chilakalapudi

Srinivas Chilakalapudi
Chief Strategy Officer, Green Gold Animation
Class of 1994
Current City: Hyderabad, India Hometown: Hyderabad, India
Twitter Handle: @srini_cc

What initially attracted you to UMKC?
UMKC was working on the current hot technologies at the time I was applying. The application of Computer Science in the fields of Telecommunications and Networking was an emerging area and a lot of research was being done by many companies. UMKC was one of the few universities that was offering courses and programs in these fields.

Tell me about an average day at your job.
I am a member of the leadership team and most of my day involves solving critical issues. We have to check on our production schedules and stay in touch with all of our customers and partners. Making sure that everything is progressing smoothly is the main part of my regular day.

How did UMKC prepare you for your career?
At UMKC, as a foreign student, I had to juggle both my education and livelihood. I was a Teaching Assistant. Apart from teaching, attending all my classes, and following the research going on in my field, I had to take care of myself in a new country, understand its people and a different culture. This made me a tough and hardworking individual. I used to plan my day very meticulously in order to get everything done, which has served me in good stead even now.

What drew you to Computer Science?
I loved to solve problems and I was pretty good at math, so I was drawn towards programming and computing. New technologies like the internet, networking, switching, and mobile communications fascinated me and I wanted to contribute towards these cutting edge technologies.

How did you decide what area you wanted to work in?
I wanted to make a contribution in the area that I studied and that was an emerging technology field. During the early 90’s, networking was a hot field and companies like Cisco were still startups. I enjoyed being part and parcel of the teams that were making the internet and inter-connecting possible and we were constantly working on innovative technologies.

What advice do you have for students entering the field?
It is very important to learn the subjects, understand them in depth, and not be superficial. Though grades are important, learning and understanding the basics is even more important. You need to work hard and in a methodical way. Plan your schedules well and execute your plans well. That is the key to success.

Alumni Q+A: Ryan Fowler

Ryan William Fowler
Mechanical Facility Engineer and Energy Coordinator, Orbital ATK Lake City AAP
Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2012
Current City: Blue Springs, MO Hometown: Blue Springs, MO

 
Tell us about your job.
At my job I get involved with managing the plants integrated building management control system, HVAC systems, boiler/steam systems, and all aspects of energy management. I often have construction projects I am responsible for deterring technical requirements and in some cases supervise field work.

One project I particularly enjoyed was the design and implementation of a reverse osmosis treatment system at the Lake City Boiler Plant. I am part of the plant’s master planning process which determines the needs and requirements which will keep the facility in working order for many years to come.

I worked at my company throughout college and interned in facilities engineering. They kept me on once I graduated. I fit very well in this type of engineering and would recommend it to anyone.

How do you balance your work life with your personal life?
I work when I am scheduled to work and I’m home when I’m scheduled to be home. Keeping the two separate and staying focused on what’s important at the time allows me to manage my time well and keep a healthy balance between the two.
Sure there are overlaps every now and then, but they are few and far between. Family comes first, and if you’re working somewhere that doesn’t respect that then it might be time to seek other opportunities.

What advice do you have for students entering the field?
One step at a time. Listen to the experienced engineers in your group and ask a ton of questions, they will be your greatest ally in conquering this new and exciting world. You will make mistakes and you will learn from them. It’s all part of becoming a good engineer. Hang in there; this is where all the fun happens!

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Max Schoettger

Transferring to UMKC

Name: Max Schoettger
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
Major: Information Technology, Business
Year: Senior
Favorite class: IT 222 – Multimedia Design
Favorite place to study: Miller Nichols Library, 2nd floor
Why you chose UMKC: Kansas City is my home city, plus UMKC was close and there are job opportunities with tech companies.

My college journey started at a different four-year university. In the two years I was there, I made a lot of mistakes, both personally and academically, at a place I didn’t feel welcome at. Transferring universities and changing degrees in the middle of my undergraduate experience was a tough decision, but one that I felt I needed to take for my own personal benefit. As I returned home to the Kansas City area, I was also interested in changing my area of study from engineering to information technology. UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering ended up being the perfect fit for me during a very challenging period of time. The school offered a bachelor’s program in information technology that I was able to get into right away. UMKC advisors worked with me to match existing engineering credits to degree requirements in the IT program to make the most of the hours I had already earned.
 
During my first semester at UMKC, the computer science classes I took caught my interest in a way no other subject had before. Learning all about computers, what they can do, and how they make the world work was something I truly became passionate about. UMKC’s relationships with some of the top tech companies in Kansas City will ensure that the skills that I acquire in the classroom can turn into a great internship or entry-level job to start my career. Aside from the academic pros of changing degrees and universities, the change in campus environment has been my favorite part about transferring to UMKC. Right in the middle of the city I have lived in my whole life is a diverse university with many different opportunities full of interesting people from all walks of life. It’s a place where I feel like I belong.