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Professionals engineering inspiration on Marion campus

A special seminar program invites these industry leaders to encourage and advise engineering technology students.

An illustration shows the silhouette of students listening to a bearded man holding a book and pointer in brighter colors. In the background are gears and stars.

(Illustration by Dante Terzigni)

“Engineers are advanced problem-solvers, and with the world always facing technical problems, the need will be there for people to come up with solutions.” Those are the words of Ethan Ott ’13, a director of engineering at Whirlpool Corp., who recently spoke with students in pre-engineering and engineering technology at Ohio State Marion.

Ott’s talk was one in a series of seminars featuring industry professionals. Engineering technology is an Ohio State major offered only on the university’s regional campuses.

Engineering and manufacturing leaders such as Ott share insights that can help students find jobs upon graduation, said Golrokh Mirzaei, an assistant professor of computer science engineering and coordinator of engineering programs on the Marion campus. They also can help students find short-term or co-op work. 

Ott said his experience illustrates the benefits of school paired with work.

“See the industry and get hands-on experience,” he advised students. “For me, that was the best thing I could have done because it allowed me to see different sides of engineering and how I could apply what I was learning in school before I had the pressure of finding a job.”

He said the new engineering technology program serves students well given trends at manufacturing companies across the country. “Right now, we hear a lot about ‘Industry 4.0,’ ‘smart factories’ and the need for automation,” Ott said. “I believe the Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology program prepares students for entering the industry specifically to enhance those areas.”

Fourth-year engineering technology major Alex Cabungcal ’22 was in the audience for Ott’s talk. He said he has enjoyed the seminars, especially when the speakers talk about their day-to-day experiences and challenges. 

“Something I like to ask is what they wish they would have known or done differently when taking classes,” Cabungcal said. “It’s interesting hearing their answers.”

Cathy Gerber ’91, Marion’s director of development and community relations, said the contributions of industry partners to the burgeoning engineering program are invaluable.

“Connecting our students with real-world manufacturers is important in the educational process of becoming a successful engineer,” she said. “Hearing firsthand from top industry leaders provides invaluable insights for students as they evaluate their career paths and begin to navigate the world of real engineering employment.”

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