Joe Hinrichs ’89 earned an MBA from Harvard, studied leadership and rose quickly through the executive ranks at General Motors and Ford Motor Company.
But Hinrichs, now executive vice president and president of The Americas, Ford Motor Company, says his path to leadership started with a choice some might have considered unconventional for a future senior executive. When he enrolled at UD in the mid-1980s, he decided to pursue a degree in electrical engineering.
“I thought it would be very important to understand the methodology and critical thinking behind problem solving,” Hinrichs said.
Hinrichs shared lessons learned from his experience in the School of Engineering and UD to a packed Kennedy Union ballroom audience Feb. 28. Faculty, staff and current students attended Hinrichs’ lunchtime talk, but his words were directed mostly to the prospective UD students in attendance visiting campus that afternoon for an admission presentation.
Hinrichs, a Columbus, Ohio, native, talked about his experience at UD, from meeting his future wife, Maria, as a first-year student, to the appreciation for community and service that shaped the values he holds today. In addition to serving as chair for local and statewide campaigns for the March of Dimes, Arthritis Foundation, Boy Scouts of America and juvenile diabetes research, he’s a member of the University board of trustees.
“Making a difference in the world, that’s one of the things we value at the University of Dayton,” he said. “I always want to give back to the University because of all of the opportunities I’ve been given in life.”
After graduation, Hinrichs got his first test of leadership when he was hired as an engineer at a Delco chassis plant near Moraine, Ohio. “I came to work wearing a white shirt and tie,” he said. “At 23, I was the boss of people two, or even three times, my age.”
The longtime employees were reluctant to see him as someone they could trust. Hinrichs said he decided to take the tie off and “get a shirt with my name on it.” It was the first step in his problem-solving process, and he started asking workers what they needed and how he could help provide it.
“Listen to their issues and remove obstacles,” Hinrichs said of the lessons learned studying engineering. “Be the kind of person you want to work with.”
At 29, Hinrichs became GM’s youngest plant manager. He joined Ford as a plant manager in 2000, and then began a career that put him in charge of Ford units in Canada, the Asia Pacific region and Africa. And, when Ford stock dropped to $1.59 a share in February 2009 and threatened the company’s survival, he used the confidence he’d gained from problem solving at the plant level to work toward a solution.
“Be grounded in core values,” he said. “Work together and figure things out.”
Whether at Ford or UD, it’s a lesson for all who hope to lead and serve.
In the University’s Vision Lab, faculty and students are developing new, cutting-edge software and hardware for real-time applications in signal processing, image processing, computer vision, pattern, facial and behavior recognition, artificial neural networks and bio-mimetic object-vision recognition.
Located on the fourth floor of Kettering Labs, the Vision Lab held a blessing and dedication July 12 for its expanded space and its new designation as a Center of Excellence for Computer Vision and Wide Area Surveillance Research. During the event, attendees from the campus community toured the facility and watched as faculty and students explained their research.
Current projects include an automated monitoring system to quickly identify threats or damage to more than 2 million miles of pipeline in the United States and relay information to pipeline operators and first responders.
The Vision Lab employs seven faculty members and has 16 collaborating faculty from other UD departments and outside institutions. Fourteen doctoral students, eight master’s degree students and seven undergraduates are completing work in the lab.
“The Vision Lab is truly a center of excellence,” said Vijay Asari, Ohio Research Scholars chair, Wide-Area Surveillance and Vision Lab director. “It holds excellent opportunities in needed technologies to bring positive change to our campus.”
In April, the University held a dedication and blessing for CETRASE, the Center of Excellence for Thin-Film Research and Surface Engineering. Ten UD researchers with a combined 15 patents and more than 600 publications will focus on ways to improve sensors, electronics, electro-optics and energy systems in their research.
February 17-23 the students in Kettering Labs took a study break or two to celebrate a week dedicated just to them.
Engineers Week is an annual celebration of “engineers, engineering students, and technicians—and all of the amazing things you do every day to make the world a better place,” according to the National Engineers Week Foundation. On campus there was a special UD spin to everything, from service activities to University trivia and more.
“College can be stressful,” said Josh Rellinger, senior mechanical engineering major, president of mechanical engineering honors society Pi Tau Sigma and organizer of Engineers Week. “We want to have a week to come up with engineering-related activities.”
Monday kicked off with two week-long events: a penny war, with proceeds donated to Ronald McDonald House, and an on-campus scavenger hunt for things like KU Fountain and the newest residence hall. Tuesday evening the Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering hosted an activities night for local elementary-aged children. Engineering students helped the kids build catapults with Popsicle sticks, plastic spoons and marshmallows, and “elephant toothpaste” was created from the foamy reaction of hydrogen peroxide and yeast. Stephanie Mekus, a fifth-year chemical engineering major and president of SAMPE, said, “We’re getting kids interested in engineering. I did stuff like this with my mom when I was little, and now I’m an engineer.”
There was a duct-tape-your-professor-to-the-wall competition, guest speakers, and, the night before the closing ceremony on Friday, a dodgeball tournament. “There’s something about our generation and dodgeball. We can’t get enough,” said Rellinger.
The departments in the school of engineering competed against one another throughout the week and the chemical engineering department walked away with first place and $500 to fund a prize or event of their choice. Now it’s back to studying for midterms.
Click the photo to see more pictures from the week’s events.
A group of high school girls concluded their stay Friday in the Women in Engineering summer camp, a weeklong residential program designed to encourage more women to pursue careers in engineering, a field traditionally dominated by men.
The University is working to close the gender gap and encourage more women to major in engineering in college.
For some civil engineering undergraduates, mapping out plans for summer break will be on hold for a few more weeks.
Rather than join peers in Daytona Beach, Fla., or go home after finals, the 23 students enrolled in the CEE 215L summer course spent the afternoon of May 7 working in teams scattered across campus surveying the land.
According to Deogratias Eustace, the course adviser, students are challenged to apply knowledge of surveying techniques and processes from prior theoretical courses to hands-on, practical situations.
“These students are making great strides in their area,” Eustace said. “They’re all committed to this, which certainly helps.”
Civil engineering majors are required to complete the course to graduate.
Starting next week, the class will be working at Mount St. John’s in Kettering, Ohio. There, students will gain real-world experience in creating topographical maps.
Owned by the Marianist brothers, Mount St. John houses a seminary and retreat center situated on a 150-acre piece of land. Eustace said the brothers requested the students’ help so they could avoid the possibility of extensively harming the grass around campus.
The professor said the brothers look forward to finding out how their land really looks.
To the civil engineering students at UD, it’s all about making business fun again.
“It’s nice because it’s hands-on experience,” Don Wilson, a junior civil engineering major, said. “We’re starting to see the method to the madness.”
Notebook in hand, I leaned close to hear the soft-spoken words of a humble 84-year-old scientist. Winning the Nobel Prize in chemistry in the twilight of his life hadn’t gone to Charles Pedersen’s head.
“What I did, I did well,” he told me after UD President Brother Raymond Fitz, S.M., presented him with an honorary master’s degree in a living room full of family and friends in Salem, N.J., in 1989. “I worked in a peculiar way and things worked out. If you have an abnormal way of doing things, you do have an advantage because you’re not imitating anybody else. If you have innovation, then you’re relatively safe.
“But it doesn’t mean you necessarily have anything good,” he quipped.
Pedersen ’26 is part of the 2012 inaugural class who will be inducted into the School of Engineering’s Hall of Fame at a campus gala Friday, part of a celebration of the school’s 100th anniversary. Also honored will be John McHale ’78, Charles Wilke ’40, Emerson Climate Technologies and The Kettering Family Philanthropies.
Pedersen shared the Nobel Prize for discovering crown ethers during a long career at DuPont. Today, crown ethers are being used in everyday applications from isolating and removing extremely small yet harmful concentrations of mercury in drinking water to helping identify potassium in blood samples to aid in early diagnosis heart disease.
Pedersen, who died eight months after the living room gathering, turned down an honorary doctorate from his alma mater. When I asked him how he wanted history to remember him, he said, “The only honest thing I can say is as a man who knew what he could do.”
Almost a year later, two Flyers received the trophy recognizing their success in an international aircraft design competition.
Last spring, John Puttmann ’10 and Brian Cranston ’10 traveled to England to present their two-seat electric airplane at the IT FLIES UK competition. Traveling with them were Andrew McClinton ’13, Eric Fuerst ’13 and Brian Walsh ’13, who submitted their design for the C130 Hercules military transport plane that won first place in the IT FLIES USA competition.
Each team was responsible for explaining its design to pilots from the Royal Air Force, who then tested it. The judging was based on the accuracy with which the plane flew.
About a dozen teams participated, but it was Puttmann and Cranston’s conceptual plane that received top honors. The duo started planning the aircraft over a year ago in fall 2010.
“I’m very proud of the students,” said Tony Saliba, dean of the School of Engineering. “They represented the University very well. To go overseas and compete against other teams is a real tribute to their efforts, but also to the well-rounded education they are receiving here.”
For a little less than $5 a day, using six newspapers the size of the Dayton Daily News, ETHOS students Jennifer Dodaro, Dan Kemlage and Claire Ellerhorst helped families in underdeveloped countries cook for a week and save lives.
“They normally throw everything and anything into the stove — plastic bottles, wood,” Dodaro said. The plastic melts too quickly and villagers most often have to walk miles carrying heavy loads of wood.
A 15-minute walk for a light load of papers is changing that. The students formed the six newspapers into 10 logs, soaked them, inserted them into a press and allowed them to dry. The logs burn cleaner and don’t require much back-breaking work.
The World Health Organization estimates 3 billion people cook and heat their homes using solid fuels (wood, animal dung, crop waste and coal) in open fires and leaky stoves. Nearly 2 million people a year die prematurely from indoor air pollution. Nearly half the deaths among children younger than 5 years old from acute lower respiratory infections are from indoor air pollution.
During the summer, ETHOS 33 students worked in 11 different countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. When these three students returned to Dayton, they left the town of Comitancillo, Guatemala, breathing a little easier.
The National Science Foundation funded a STEM program this summer that brought elementary and high school teachers from the Miami Valley region together with UD engineering faculty. The program had two goals: to sponsor projects beneficial to economic success and to bring hands-on learning into the classroom to inspire the next generation of engineering students.
One project aimed to reduce energy consumption at St. Vincent de Paul Gateway Shelter. One teacher explained the beginning of the idea process, likening it to shooting a paintball gun – the group was hitting the target but splattering a vast area. To narrow its focus the group organized its solutions into eight categories: windows, solar, water, air flow, lighting and landscaping.
When giving the group a tour of the shelter, program director Ann Goebel kept repeating, “This is our home. We live here.” So out of 10 requirements, the teachers made safety the top priority, followed by energy conservation, cost to implement and user-friendliness.
The group discovered its strongest solution was a reflective roofing material to deflect sunlight. Teachers created a plywood prototype and tested four materials by recording the roof’s temperature every five minutes for an hour.
A metalized film called BoPET – essentially a silver space blanket – provided the best results in keeping the prototype cooler than the air temperature. The group recommended further testing but agreed that, with enough time, their reflective roof idea could help reduce energy consumption by keeping St. Vincent de Paul Gateway Shelter cool.
A new statue of St. Joseph carrying Jesus graces the entry to the School of Engineering on campus. Tomorrow’s dedication of the statue during Reunion Weekend will kick off a yearlong celebration of the engineering school’s 100th anniversary. Today, the school enrolls a record number of students and performs more sponsored research than any Catholic engineering school in the country.