Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Terry Bondy

Name: Terry Bondy
Major: Civil Engineering
Year: Senior
Clubs: SCE Student Council, Tau Beta Pi
Favorite class: CE 321: Structural Analysis
Favorite place to study: Miller Nichols Library on the 4th floor
Why you chose UMKC: Lots of scholarships are available for students

What In the World is Civil Engineering?

When I tell people I’m majoring in civil engineering, the most common response is “Oh, so you are going to, like, build stuff?” Most people don’t have a clue what civil engineers do. I certainly didn’t have a very good idea either when I started this program a few years ago. Because it is a very broad engineering degree, it can be hard to explain sometimes. There are five industries that people typically work in as civil engineers: construction, structural, geotechnical, hydrological, and traffic engineering.

During my freshman year, I wanted to work as a hydrological engineer. I thought I would enjoy working with streams, rivers, and keeping the environment clean from pollution. However, I found myself enjoying my structural classes more. Statics, Structural Analysis, Steel Design, and Reinforced Concrete all seemed more interesting to me.

The first thing I like about structural engineering is how many different materials are available. I can use steel, wood, concrete, and masonry to build structures. Each has unique properties that make it the better or worse material to use in certain situations. Another thing I look forward to as a structural engineer is working with different industries. I can build hospitals, schools, office buildings, or power plants. Few professions offer the opportunity to work with such a variety of clients. Third, I want to be a structural engineer because it gives me the opportunity to help other people and communities in a meaningful, lasting way. With a Structural Engineer license, I can build structures for people all around the world.

Learn more about civil engineering at UMKC.

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Mazen Mansour

Egypt to UMKC

Name: Mazen Mansour
Hometown: Alexandria, Egypt
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Year: Senior
Clubs: Pi Tau Sigma, Research Assistant, Thermodynamics T.A., Math Tutor
Favorite class: Thermodynamics
Favorite place to study: Miller Nichols Library, 4th floor
Why you chose UMKC: I love Kansas City and UMKC’s class sizes. There are also lots of industry partners in Kansas City.

In the summer of 2012 I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. I left my home country Egypt, and started applying to colleges in the United States. Although I am a dual citizen, I had never lived in the U.S before. In the fall of 2013, I started as an Aerospace Engineering student at Wichita State University. My first couple of weeks here in the U.S by myself were very tough. I had to adapt to a new language, a new culture, and a new lifestyle, but I knew I came to U.S to succeed and success doesn’t come easy. I visited Kansas City during Thanksgiving break and instantly fell in love with the city. I transferred to UMKC after my freshman year and I am so thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had here.

When I moved to KC, my English wasn’t as good as it is today. I had difficulties understanding people at first. The first job I had in Kansas City was working at a McDonald’s. While I was only earning minimum wage, it was probably one of the most valuable experiences I’ve ever had. I was speaking to around 500 customers every day which helped me improve my English skills. Through my sophomore, junior and currently my senior year, there is one very important thing that I’ve learned; “The impossible is possible unless you say no.”

Since coming to UMKC, I’ve had the opportunity to work in various positions on campus. I’ve worked as a math tutor, campus host, teacher assistant, research assistant, and SCE student ambassador. This might sound normal for some people, but for me as an 18 year old kid coming from Egypt, to live in a totally new country was a big deal. And getting my first ever name tag or having my name on a syllabus of a class with my own “office hours” was an even bigger deal! My proudest moment was when I saw my name on a 4 by 3 feet poster for my research that I was working on this past summer. Besides working on campus, I was also blessed to get an internship at PAS Technologies, a manufacturing plant for small aeroplane parts.

I think to succeed in college and life in general, one needs to be optimistic. I wake up every day at 5:30 a.m. and say “Good morning, Mazen! Let’s go out and get it before the day gets you.”

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Kacey Henik

The Stem Career Fair

Name: Kacey Henik
Hometown: Independence, MO
Major: Electrical Computer Engineering (ECE)
Year: Senior
Clubs: SWE, Alpha Sigma Alpha, Mortar Board
Favorite class: Embedded Systems
Favorite place to study: Computer labs or my apartment
Why you chose UMKC: I wanted to major in ECE, which is a program offered at very few universities.

 

My name is Kacey Henik, and I am a senior in the Electrical Computer Engineering (ECE) degree program. ECE is unique because not very many colleges offer the combined electrical and computer engineering focuses in a single program. . This provides more career options for after graduation, even though most engineering degrees are fairly versatile in their career applications.

One of the events that UMKC holds every semester is the STEM Career Fair. My sophomore year, I went to the career fair in the spring where I secured an internship with Kansas City Power and Light. This internship was a great entry point for me and let me see what it was like to work at a utility. I loved how the company revolved around the customers and the way that we could best serve them through providing reliable and efficient power. However, I was still was not 100% sure what I wanted to do after graduation.

My junior year of school, I went to the fall career fair, after which I was offered an internship with Burns & McDonnell, a large engineering consulting firm headquartered in Kansas City. My first summer had shown me the utility side of things and this past summer showed me something new – consulting. On the consulting side, the project scope varies greatly, as we serve clients all over the country, and in some cases, across the world.. I really enjoyed the environment of the company and the variety in projects I was able to work on.

Seeing both the utility side and the consulting side proved to be great experiences for me and helped me to make a more informed decision on where I wanted to work for my career. I recently accepted an offer with Burns & McDonnell to work full-time after graduation (nine months before I graduate!), and I am thankful to be able to continue working there part-time while I am still in school! I attribute much of my success to the School of Computing and Engineering and the dedication they show us students. I am thankful to be at a university that is located in a place where I even get to start on my career a little earlier!

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Katrina Flynn

Internship to Future Career

By: Katrina Flynn
Hometown: Papillion, NE
Major: Information Technology
Year: Senior
Clubs: Student Government Board for Dining Sevices, UMKC Grievance Committee, Student Staff at UMKC Welcome Center
Favorite class: IT 350 – Object Oriented Programming
Favorite place to study: Miller Nichols Library
Why you chose UMKC: I wanted to move to a bigger city.

 

One of the biggest reasons that I decided to move from a small town in Nebraska to Kansas City was because I knew that I would have more job opportunities in a larger city—and UMKC has not let me down.

I am incredibly thankful for the amount of internship opportunities that have been presented to me by SCE. I received my first internship at the beginning of my sophomore year, and I was truly blessed. I worked as an analyst intern in the IT department at ConAgra Foods World Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska during the summer before my junior year. This was a great experience and I learned a lot about what I liked and didn’t like, in preparation for my long-term career aspirations.

During my junior year, I received another internship with a company in Kansas City called Protiviti, an internal audit and technology consulting firm. I was curious to take my degree to another level and see what different paths I could take with my major. I even got to travel with this internship! Training took place in Orlando, Florida for the first couple of weeks, and I was able to go to Disney World for the first time. Overall, this was exactly what I was looking for with my major. It was a great work environment with awesome people in the city that I love. Needless to say, I was happy to receive a full-time offer after I graduate—which I humbly accepted.

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Chelsea Pfaffly

The Importance of Undergraduate Research 
By: Chelsea Pfaffly

Hometown: Pleasant Valley, MO
Major: Civil Engineering
Year: Junior
Clubs: SWE, Undergrad Research
Favorite class: Strength of Materials
Favorite place to study: Study rooms by the CME faculty offices
Why you chose UMKC: The opportunities and small class sizes
 
Participating in undergraduate research has always been on my bucket list. It is one of the most influential experiences that a college student can have. This summer I applied for the Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity (SUROP) grant. Even though I was only a sophomore in the engineering program and I still had much to learn, I knew I could apply the knowledge I had to real life applications.
 
When it came to choosing what topic I wanted to focus my research on Dr. Hart, a civil engineering professor, helped guide me. She told me about her research on environmental concrete and I was super intrigued! The research I did focused on trying to collect the heavy metals from pervious concrete. I was excited about this experiment because if I could prove that the metals could be extracted, pervious concrete could be used as an economical solution to clean up mining spills. Because of this experience, I was able to spend my summer in a lab expanding my knowledge outside of the classroom and diving deeper into my interest in geotechnical engineering.
 
The biggest benefit for me was learning to think on my feet. Since I was conducting my own research, I was in charge of coming up with the procedure for the experiment. Quick thinking and innovation are not skills that can be learned in the classroom. They are developed through hands-on experience. During my research, when things didn’t go as I had planned, I had to resolve the issue on my own and be creative.
 
I am so glad I was able to have this opportunity. When someone asks me what my most meaningful college experience was, I proudly say, “My summer of undergraduate research!”

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Kyle Rainey

Value of Internships

By Kyle Rainey
Hometown: Columbia, MO
Major: Information Technology
Year: Senior
Favorite class: IT 222 – Multimedia Design
Favorite place to study: My apartment or the UMKC Library
Why you chose UMKC: Smaller class sizes

During the fall break of my sophomore year, I applied for an internship at Cerner, a healthcare information technology solutions company located in Kansas City.  I was hired for the Kansas City Information Technology (KCIT) Apprenticeship Program before the start of the summer of 2015.  This program is designed differently when compared to a normal internship.  The KCIT program allowed me to work twenty hours a week during the school year and  forty hours a week during the summer.  My internship has allowed me the opportunity to put the knowledge I gained as a UMKC student in information technology to work – literally!  Although, Cerner has also given me the opportunity to learn on the job.  They allowed me to work on real projects and sit in on many meetings, further developing my skills as a professional in the field. Being a UMKC student has allowed me to have this experience and since many big companies come to UMKC looking for students to become interns, the connection was made easy.

After I graduate this fall, I plan to continue working for Cerner on my current team! Being in the KCIT program gives you the ability to continue with what you are doing after you graduate, if you were successful and choose to do so.  Working at Cerner has taught me a lot in the last year and I continue to learn more every day. UMKC has prepared me to work full time right after graduation and I look forward to starting my career with Cerner as soon as that degree is in hand.

Seniors Design App for Microsoft’s New HaloLens

By Alex Maurer

Every semester at UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering (SCE), students apply their skills and knowledge to their hands-on Capstone Senior Design Project.  For computer science seniors Eric Lytle, Zach Wolf, Jarren Back, Cameron Knight, Eric Wilson, and Alex Mammele, this capstone project afforded them the opportunity to work with the innovative technology of the HoloLens.  Teaming up with the School of Computing and Engineering’s Recruitment staff, these seniors designed an app that can be used in high school and middle school classrooms throughout the Kansas City area to showcase the exciting and cutting-edge work of SCE students.

Through the use of the programming language Unity, a language that will be introduced into computer science classes in SCE this spring, they developed an app that provides a mixed reality for users that combines augmented and virtual realities.  With this app, users can spatially map the environment they are standing in and incorporate holograms that interact with their actual environment.  In this case, UMKC’s mascot, Kasey the Kangaroo, will chase after objects that the user can “throw” into their environment.  This gives the user a fun interactive experience with the environment they live in (augmented reality) and the objects created within the app (virtual reality).

Due to the recent release of the HoloLens, these students were presented with the unique challenge of not only programming the app, but researching and discovering how to create successful programming and code through a trial-and-error process.  While this process proved tedious, Eric Lytle noted that the “exploratory programming” of this app was one of their favorite experiences with this project as it allowed them to develop new skills and knowledge, and be at the forefront of technology.  Not only did this exploratory programming provide a unique experience for this group of students, it also stands to create new opportunities for future SCE students who seek to further develop the app and create new uses for the HoloLens.

Learn more about the HaloLens at: https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us

View the HaloLens in action at SCE: https://www.facebook.com/pg/UMKCSCE/videos/?ref=page_internal

Q + A with Civil Engineering Student Terry Bondy

Current City: Kansas City, MO  Hometown: Calgary, AB, Canada

Why did you choose UMKC:
I chose UMKC because I went to High School in South Kansas City, and UMKC was close to home. I also wanted to go to university in a city that was large enough to feel metropolitan, without being too large. UMKC also offered lots of scholarships.

What are you studying and why did you choose this:
I am studying civil engineering, with an emphasis in structures. I chose this field because I like to work with large projects, and I wanted a career that would allow me to work in different regions of the country. Since people will always need safe structures to live in, I figured it was a pretty safe career to get into. I also want to work with different industries. I like that structural engineers can build schools, hospitals, conference centers, office buildings, and lots of other things.

What do you love the most about UMKC:
My favorite thing about UMKC is how many opportunities there are to be involved. There are so many campus jobs, volunteer opportunities, and research projects available to work on.

What is your favorite class:
That’s a difficult question. It’s probably either CE 321: Structural Analysis, or CE 323: Steel Design. Until I took these classes, I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to be a civil engineer. After taking these two classes, I learned how interesting designing structures can be.

Are you involved in any organizations or honor societies? Why did you decide to join:
Yes, I’m the Secretary for the Missouri Delta Chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society. I am also a member of the Student Activity Fee Committee, as well as the Steel Bridge Design Team. I also work as a student ambassador for SCE, a teaching assistant, and a math/physics tutor. At first, I joined some of these organizations so I would have something to talk about during job interviews! But looking back, the extra-curricular things I’ve been involved in at UMKC have been just as rewarding as the classes I’ve enjoyed

The Baja Team Races To Win

Know what it takes to build a fully functional vehicle from scratch within a year? Ask our Baja Buggy team. With just twelve months and a $20,000 budget, the team’s objective is to design a vehicle that could be accepted for manufacturing while trying to simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. In addition, the students work as a team to design, build, test, promote, and compete the vehicle with a given set of rules. As the incoming president of the Baja Racing Team, Christian Derra describes, the best thing about Baja is that “The team gives students opportunities to apply the entire engineering process and fabricate what they have designed.” Each year the team races in 2 to 3 locations ranging from California, to Portland, the Tennessee and more!

Now, imagine trying to race that vehicle you built against 100 other cars in a range that may be muddy, desert like, or filled with hills! The Baja Racing team has competed in all types of terrain, including their most recent trip to a very desert like location, as Derra described it as a “sun sand range,” just this past month. The ten team members, SCE students; Christian Derra, Nic Basore, Christopher Shinn, Meagan Holloway, Brent Norris, Brandon Norris, Jeffrey Earl, Robbie Beers, Nicholas Doolittle, and Alex Eckhoff, just got back from Gorman, California where they placed 26th overall out of 100 teams. The overall scoring was dependent on 3 separate races, the Endurance Race (29th place), the Hill Climb (14th place), and the Acceleration Race (23rd place).

Just upon coming back, the team has already started plans for the upcoming year. The team is always recruiting new members of all types of majors, if you’re interested in joining, please contact umkcbaja@umkc.edu

Learning to Fly with Dr. Fields

Click here to play video via YouTube.

We’re all a little fascinated with drones now, right? A quick visit to amazon and you can find over 10,000 commercial unmanned aircrafts available for purchase. If you’ve visited a local park, headed out to a sporting event, or popped by UMKC’s campus, you’ve probably seen them in the skies taking video or photographs – but for SCE faculty member, Dr. Travis Fields, they are doing something a bit more complicated, learning to fly.

Dr. Fields is conducting a research project that is focused on the building of a quadcopter that is much cooler than the traditional ones. How so? This drone can learn. Funded by a University of Missouri Research Board grant, his project entitled “In-Flight Learning with Indirect Adaptive Control: A New Paradigm in Flight Testing and Control” explores how to build an aircraft that can adapt as it is dropped and figure out how to adjust its behavior to stay in the air and avoid crashing.

As Dr. Fields explains, “the learning-based control system invokes small oscillations to the four quadcopter motors in order to learn how each motor effects the quadcopter motion. The oscillations provide sufficient data to create a model that can be used to efficiently control the aircraft.” Graduate student, Mohammed Alabsi, has been developing and testing this control system alongside Dr. Fields in the UMKC Drone Research and Teaching Lad (The DRAT). Check out our video to see what’s happening now. When the full research is completed, the ideal quadcopter would have a “fresh-brain” of its own. It will then be tossed from a building and will teach it’s self how to fly prior to reaching the ground!