When Paige Kassalen took off on Solar Impulse 2 – the world’s first solar-powered airplane –she recalled that her spark in engineering began on UD’s campus one summer seven years ago.
Kassalen, 23, is part of the Solar Impulse team that flew out of Dayton International Airport Wednesday, May 25 with a goal of travelling around the world. This leg of the journey is scheduled to land in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.
Kassalen says she owes much of her engineering success to an early foundation at the Women in Engineering Summer Camp she attended at the University of Dayton when she was 15 years old.
“My first exposure to engineering was attending this summer camp for girls,” Kassalen said. “It was where I found my passion.”
The camp began at the University 42 years ago and provides females the opportunity to plunge into engineering with hands-on activities. With the guidance of UD professors, participating students are given the opportunity to perform experiments, create new inventions, introduced to female engineers and visit a job site during the camp’s six-day experience.
“I remember that we got to make a structure that would withstand the most force,” Kassalen said. “We had a bunch of different materials. I used duct tape and markers. The winning group used 8- ½-inch x 11-inch size computer paper. That was the moment when I saw that everyday materials can accomplish great things.”
The biggest takeaway Kassalen said she gained from the UD engineering summer program was the chance to use her creative skills.
“From the UD summer program, I learned putting creativity to use to solve problems is exactly what engineering is,” Kassalen stated.
Now an electrical engineer, the Pittsburgh native is the the youngest embedded engineer for Solar Impulse and the only American on the primarily Swiss ground crew. Kassalen is one of three female engineers on the crew.
Kassalen’s journey with the team started in Honolulu, Hawaii and the mission will conclude in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, weather permitting.
“My goal is sharing this experience,” said Kassalen. “I want to inspire people by sharing that if you’re 100% yourself about your passion, anything is possible. What I am trying to showcase is that I never expected to do a historic project like this one year removed from college, but making sure that you are passionate about the degree you choose and pick good programs that can prepare you prior to college will point you in the right direction, find your niche and land your dream job.”
For more information on UD’s summer engineering program, please visit their website: https://www.udayton.edu/engineering/k-12-programs/women_in_engineering_summer_camp/index.php
UD’s Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, with it’s sky-blue dome and impressive stained-glass windows, is a structure familiar to most on campus. To Eileen Dolan ’67, it’s more than just a beautiful memory of her time at UD; it’s the place where she just got married.
“When I went to UD, I went to mass every morning at 11:30,” Dolan said. “Even though he didn’t go to Dayton, my fiancé suggested that we get married at the chapel. He knows how much it means to me. He also has a deep faith, which is one of the things that I love about him.”
Dolan, now living in Amarillo, TX, is still a Flyer fanatic. She tapes every televised basketball game, and makes a point to attend any that are held within 700 miles of her home.
“I fell in love with everything about the school; the community, the feeling of inclusion,” Dolan said. “I savored every moment of it. I come back every five years to replenish my supply of sweatshirts at the bookstore, and watch my taped basketball games all summer long.”
Because of Dolan’s devotion to UD, it seemed only right that she get married in the chapel. On Tuesday, May 24, Dolan and her fiancé, Rafael Tinajero, were married by Father Al McMenamy, a Marianist priest out of St. Louis.
“It was just a 15 minute service,” Dolan said. “We didn’t want a reception. We just wanted to keep it quiet and personal. We didn’t need anything else.”
Even decades after leaving campus, Dolan is still Flyer faithful – “My whole life revolves around faith, family, friends and Flyer basketball.”
Father Marty Solma, S.M., readily concedes the Marianists felt a bit apprehensive about the prospect of the University of Dayton’s first lay president.
“It entailed a certain letting go and a trust that the spirit, ethos and tradition would continue,” said Solma, provincial for the Marianist Province of the United States and vice chair of the University’s board of trustees.
“They have. I cannot imagine a more collaborative partnership than what we have with Dan Curran.”
As Curran winds down his 14-year presidency, trustees and administrators gathered at a private dinner during the spring board meeting to pay tribute to a president who has led with a blend of boldness, pragmatism and faith.
The Marianists presented him with a framed portrait of the Christ the Teacher statue that graces Fitz Hall and gave his wife, Claire Renzetti, a fresco painting of Mother and Child signed by the late Marianist artist Mel Meyer. In 12 days, the trustees raised $400,000 to help support the Human Rights Center, an initiative close to Curran’s heart.
“His legacy is going to last way beyond his 14 years of service,” said Steve Cobb ’86, chair of the board of trustees. “It will last beyond our lifetimes.”
Reflecting on the remarkable growth in the University’s footprint and prestige during the Curran era, Cobb said, “I like to talk about the special sauce. Dan has shown a certain demeanor, a certain spirit, a certain energy — and an ability to have judgment. In thinking about Dan’s leadership, I thought of one word — agility.”
Provost Paul Benson built upon Cobb’s remarks with four words of his own: intuitive, pedagogical, gracious and Marianist.
“Underlying Dan’s style of entrepreneurial innovation and boldness is a powerfully intuitive understanding of university life,” Benson observed. “Dan Curran’s intuitions are far better than most, and they seem to come to him quite naturally. Even when faced with very complex problems or opportunities, Dan often reaches a speedy appraisal of the advantages and obstacles. …And, more often than not, his intuitive judgment proves to be well founded.”
Benson also praised Curran’s relationship with students, appreciation of the University’s Catholic, Marianist mission and ability to diffuse the tolls of the presidency with “displays of light-hearted humor and playfulness.”
Curran’s “enjoyment of being with students is well known,” Benson noted. “Many assume that this is simply because he likes the energy, enthusiasm, joy and hopefulness of young adults — which he does,” he said, adding, “I have seen Dan countless times serve as a mentor for the students he meets and knows. Dan naturally has the temperament of a teacher.”
Clearly moved by the accolades, Curran gazed out over the room of former board chairs, trustees and administrators and said, “We did this together.”
When Father Leo Meyer, S.M., bought Nazareth Farm from John Stuart with a medal of Saint Joseph as collateral, “I saw that as a guideline for moving forward. I never felt alone. I was empowered from the very beginning, and that led to the successes we had.”
Curran expressed confidence the University’s upward momentum will continue under new president Eric Spina: “When you get to know Eric, you’ll realize we’ll reach even higher.”
All recipes for success start with two ingredients: hard work, and passion.
This was true for recent graduate Emily Callen, who was selected by the University of Dayton as winner of its Student Employee of the Year Award. Her position with Dining Services as Assistant Operations Support Specialist allowed her to mix her passion for food and nutrition with her on-campus involvement.
Callen started her career at UD as an engineering major; already mindful of nutrition as a rowing team member, an internship with Mission of Mary Cooperative opened her eyes to the larger world of public nutritional health.
“Seeing how people in low income neighborhoods were eating, chemical engineering wasn’t for me. I wanted to work directly with food and with people. I wanted to be part of the solution,” Callen said.
She continued her work there throughout her college career, taking on her current position in April 2015. While at work, Callen helped manage Dining Services’ two major operating systems, and performed health inspections of Flyer Enterprises restaurants and cafés.
“And then there are bigger projects throughout the summer,” she noted. “I made a training presentation for Flyer Enterprises and the staff in the Dining Halls on food safety, and connected with the Athletic Department to do a training with NetNutrition.”
These projects required initiative, outreach, and coordination between departments, all characteristics that led supervisors Doug Lemaster and Joan Bauman to nominate her for the award–and to push her application through to the Midwest Association of Student Employment Administrators final round, in which she won Student Employee of the Year for the entire state of Ohio.
Bauman shared insight on the attitude behind Callen’s success.
“Emily is always willing to take things on, asking ‘What do you need? What can I do?’. She’s thorough, accurate, and runs with things – she’s an incredible employee.”
Since her graduation this May, Callen has taken a position with OSU Extension as a nutrition educator. She ultimately hopes to apply her experience to increase access for affordable, sustainable produce in low-income neighborhoods.
“Ooh, it’s Clifford the Big Red Dog!”
Children giggled as pictures of Clifford, the very large and oh-so-red canine of storybook fame, greeted them when they entered the UD Bookstore Saturday, May 14. Clifford toys and books were on display for purchase, prompting children to ask their parents if they could please — pretty please with sugar on top — have one.
The toys and pictures were just the appetizer. As the children munched on pancakes, sausage and bacon outside The Emporium cafe in Marianist Hall, a big red dog entered the room, and the children squealed with delight when they saw the real thing.
A bookstore employee had donned a Clifford costume, and was making the rounds.
An annual event for more than a decade, the UD Bookstore’s pancake brunch for children takes place the first weekend after graduation, when campus is quiet and bookstore traffic slows to a crawl.
“The whole event is to promote literacy and to start the summer off with a fun, family-oriented event that invites the community to campus,” said Loretta Geiger, general book supervisor, for the UD Bookstore.
Bookstore employees run craft stations for kids to draw, color and make pieces of art related to the book, and The Emporium provides the food, which helps keep costs low.
In addition to Clifford, one of the event’s “regulars,” Doc McStuffins and a real llama (Llama Llama Red Pajama) have graced The Emporium with their presence.
A few hugs and high-fives later, Clifford waved goodbye and headed back to the doghouse. A big red day, indeed.
Entrepreneurship major Jessica Kerr ‘16 is prepared. She’s finished her senior year studies, closed her term as SGA Vice President of Communications, and plans on taking her talents to FlyWheel, a startup accelerator in Cincinnati.
At FlyWheel, she will consult and help social entrepreneurs and nonprofits develop and realize their full potential. This may not sound like a typical entry level job, but this 22-year-old is well positioned to fly above her station. As the winner of the University of Dayton’s 10th Annual Business Plan Competition, Jess knows a few things about pitching plans and selling stories.
It took just five months for Jess to go from brainstorming business ideas with her roommate at Steak ‘n Shake, to working with attorneys to secure her idea, which has proven to be more successful than she ever first imagined.
Her winning plan is Aer (pronounced ‘air’)- a patent-pending device that will allow individuals with chronic lung diseases to self-monitor their lung function at home. The idea was inspired by her roommate who has cystic fibrosis, and her grandmother, who died of lung complications.
“My grandma had a really rare disease and had to go to the doctors every single week to test her lung function,” Jess said. “I’ve seen a lot of people dealing with this inconvenience.”
In her initial business plan pitch in October 2015, Jess cited that over 70,000 people suffer from cystic fibrosis. Her proposed device could save those patients from having to make over 15 hospital visits a year and could also save insurance companies and hospitals valuable time and money.
“When I thought of this device, I had no idea that people would like it so much, and then it just took off,” she said. “The School of Business put my pitch on YouTube and a ton of people saw it and started reaching out to me. People started getting behind the idea and the message and the awareness it could raise for lung diseases. People were already calling and asking where they could find one for their relatives or children.”
Before this plan took off, Jess felt that her entrepreneurship studies at the University had prepared her well. She had started a micro-business as part of her Sophomore Experience and had taken classes instructing her on how to pitch to investors and write business plans. She interned at Brandery, a startup accelerator that helps entrepreneurs find funding. And as a part of her senior capstone, she began consulting local companies in Dayton. “All of that was very helpful,” she said. “I wasn’t going into this competition blindly.”
But once she proposed her plan and began receiving support, she learned the value of a story.
“People don’t necessarily want a beautifully engineered product. A lot of people had really great products but were so hard to understand,” she said. “You have to be able to have investors understand and believe in your cause. To be able to explain your product in a way that puts a personal connection in a story behind it … that’s so important.”
Jess said the next steps for Aer are somewhat vague at this point. A large portion of her prize money will go to her attorney and a patent process. She also won and will receive free training and consulting as a part of her prize from UD’s Fiore Talarico Center for Professional Selling and the School of Law’s Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Clinic.
“I’ve been approached by a lot of different people- investors, accelerators, and incubators who want to work on this with me,” she said.
Whatever comes next for Jess, she’s prepared to take the next step in her story.
It’s not surprising Mary Fisher took a page from a J.K. Rowling book to inspire graduates of the University of Dayton’s doctor of physical therapy program.
This generation grew up on Harry Potter.
“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better,” said Fisher, associate professor of physical therapy, at a May 6 graduation banquet at Dayton’s Racquet Club.
On the eve of the traditional hooding ceremony at spring commencement, you could feel an overwhelming sense of joy, pride and relief in a room bursting with nearly three dozen newly minted physical therapists and their families. They just survived a highly competitive, intense program that accepts fewer than 17 percent of its applicants. For graduates, the pay-off is high: job placement is 100 percent.
“Class of 2016, we made it!” said class president Kendra Lucas, showing no effort to contain her enthusiasm. “It has been 990 days since orientation day. I clearly remember picking up Dr. Phil (Anloague’s) 100-page syllabus for anatomy and thinking, ‘What the heck did I get myself into?’ All of those long nights studying, reading tens of thousands of PowerPoint slides, countless cups of coffee, nearly 40 weeks of free labor while out on clinicals. All of those times when we thought, when is this going to be over? But now, we are asking ourselves, where did the time go?
“From week one we became like a family. We not only went through PT school together — we went through life together,” she said, mentioning three marriages, two births, seven engagements, six surgeries, and countless get-togethers and intramural games. Some classmates presented their research at academic conferences, and a group traveled with program director Anloague to China to help teach and learn about Chinese medicine at Nanjing University.
Just as Anloague did last summer at the Great Wall and other tourist spots in China, he pulled out his cell phone to take a few “selfies” with the students. “The most fun selfies are those with so many people in the background,” he said. “Look around. These are the people who have been there from the start.”
In the evening’s closing talk, Fisher challenged the graduates to use their knowledge and compassion to help people live longer — and better.
“Everyone wants to live at the highest quality of life level possible. Find that niche or specialty which excites you. Pursue it. Execute it. Now you have given hope to a whole group of people who, before you were there, did not have access to the best treatment possible,” she said.
“Imagine what significant power you wield. And it’s not magic. Imagine the good you can do.”
It took me awhile to write this, and it is not because I am a senior in my last week of classes struggling to hold back the Senioritis. I am just fighting to find the words to describe a place I love so much, a place that has become my home.
I have moved around quite a bit in my life, the last time being the middle of my junior year of high school where I moved from Buffalo, NY to Springfield, Ill. In the midst of trying to hold back my adolescent angst (sorry Mom and Dad), I was looking for a college that would bring me the feeling of home I desperately wanted. That is when the University of Dayton came into my life.
It was not always easy, especially as years went on. The classes were not a walk in the park, the organizations took up more time than my agenda had room for and, man, did I miss my dog. But, at the end of the week I knew I could take a deep breath, smile and still enjoy the small moments UD gave me. Moments that have now come to make my heart hurt knowing it might not be the same.
From laughing until tears rolled down my cheeks at the ridiculous jokes my roommates would crack to going to class and analyzing Shakespeare’s works while also eating homemade cupcakes provided by my favorite professor; each and every memory has stuck with me.
My parents gave me another home through UD. I do not think they will understand the level of gratitude I have for them for giving me the opportunity to attend our university. They helped provide me my college education. Little did they know I received a community and laugh-out-loud memories in the process. Can you say “Package deal?”
As the days dwindle toward graduation, and I pack up my belongings, I want to say thank you to those who helped me find my home. It took me 22 years to get here, but it has been one heck of a ride.
I had been warned that this day would come, but I willfully chose to pretend that it wouldn’t. Graduation always seemed forever away, even as the years, months, weeks dwindled.
Now here I sit, facing down my last few days of undergraduate classes ever, finishing up my final undergraduate papers ever and praying the forecasted rain will stay far away on my last weekend at UD (definitely not ever).
It’s a strange feeling knowing that the institution and the people who helped shape me the last four years are now telling me it’s time to leave. I’m not the same girl who moved into Marycrest just days before her 18th birthday–and that’s a good thing.
My professors, advisors and mentors have challenged my ideas, forced me to expand my thoughts and, at times, fully ejected me from my comfort zone. Sometimes I went willingly and sometimes I dug my heels in until the last minute, but each time I learned and I grew.
And for that, I can only say, “Thank you.”
Thank you for having confidence in me, even and especially when I was unsure of myself.
Thank you for never letting me rest in comfort, but for always pushing me forward.
Thank you for the hours you spent lecturing, leading discussions, meeting on-on-one, grading papers, responding to emails…the list goes on and on.
Thank you for inspiring me anew each day by your own examples of leadership, passion and commitment to community.
I will miss this wonderful place and all the beautiful people that I’ve met. But I will enter into the world knowing that UD has prepared me for whatever I may encounter.