In 1942, German U-boats were picking off Allied supply ships crossing the Atlantic, putting the blockaded British in dire straits and ravaging the Allied fleet. Polish mathematicians, followed by British engineers, had worked on the intelligence project known as Ultra to decrypt enemy messages. But their success was stymied by the sophisticated German naval code, and the U.S. Navy decided to embark on its own codebreaking effort. This story originally appeared in the Autumn 2004 UD Quarterly.
Among the greatest enemies of German U-boats during World War II was the ingenious mind of 1929 UD graduate Joseph “Joe” Desch and the codebreaking machines he designed, assembled a mile from campus in NCR’s Building 26 along the Great Miami River.
It’s a surprising tale even to many war scholars. That’s because, for 50 years after the war, no one working on the top-secret project uttered a word.
Now, their stories of loyalty, invention and sacrifice are being revealed to a national audience through the April 2004 release of the book The Secret in Building 26 and the documentary Dayton Codebreakers, being released this fall. It’s a familiar tale of Dayton ingenuity and hard work, with roots in a Midwestern sensibility and Marianist education that provided Desch with the tools to crack the code.
An impossible task
In 1942, German U-boats were picking off Allied supply ships crossing the Atlantic, putting the blockaded British in dire straits and ravaging the Allied fleet.
Polish mathematicians, followed by British engineers, had worked on the intelligence project known as Ultra to decrypt enemy messages. But their success was stymied by the sophisticated German naval code, and the U.S. Navy decided to embark on its own codebreaking effort.
Enter Joe Desch and Dayton’s National Cash Register Co.
Desch had been building a reputation for himself since he joined NCR in 1938. In an effort to speed the calculations of NCR’s cash registers, his engineering team created the first electronic counter that could log a million counts per second. His work foreshadowed the coming computer age, and the Navy wanted to use that technology to break the German code, known as Enigma.
The intellectual, physical and spiritual struggles that ensued during those 14 months were as monumental as the innovation, and they only started to be revealed in the last 15 years. Debbie Desch Anderson, who was born in 1950 and didn’t know during her father’s lifetime of his war contributions, responded to a challenge her father issued before his death in 1987.
“Dad used to say, ‘Honey, you’ll never figure out what I did,’ and that was the wrong thing to say to me,” says the 1971 UD graduate. “He underestimated me.”
Her task, at times, was almost as daunting as her father’s. During a 1993 visit to Washington, D.C., she went to the National Security Agency with an armload of classified documents she found among her father’s possessions. Seeking answers, she instead endured hours of questioning and the ultimate confiscation of her records.
In 2001, at the National Archives in Washington, Anderson found a memo signed by her father’s hand.
“I started crying, because he’s a historical figure, and he’s my dad,” she says.
Through her research, Anderson learned that the Navy pushed repeatedly for an all-electronic decipher machine, while Desch insisted that an electromechanical hybrid could do the same job and take less time to produce. It was an intellectual struggle that wore on him, further strained by the moral obligation he felt to the men who were dying on warships, waiting for intelligence that would allow them to evade the U-boats.
But Desch was prepared to fight for his electromechanical hybrid and succeed. He had behind him an army of 600 WAVES — Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service — to assemble the deciphering machines, called “Bombes,” and an engineering staff of 24, whom he managed with deftness and grace. Edward DeLaet, an engineering technician, remembers how Desch handled one of the numerous demands placed on him by the Navy. For the documentary, DeLaet recalls Desch saying, “They just gave me another impossible job. Impossible jobs I can do; it will just take me a little longer.”
Breaking the German Engima was a herculean task. When Desch worked on Ultra, the Germans had progressed from a three-rotor to a four-rotor encryption machine. The alphabetized rotors and plugboard settings — which transposed individual letters, further confusing the message — were changed daily. The German code clerk chose which four letters were to appear through small windows next to the rotors. These letters indicated the initial rotor settings for any given message, and the code clerk changed those settings with every message he sent. The resulting message looked like a string of completely random letters to anyone not knowing the day’s settings.
To understand how difficult it is to arrive at the right combination of rotor and plugboard positions to decode a message, Wittenberg University physics assistant professor Dan Fleisch related it to the number of atoms in the universe. The number of possible combinations for the Enigma machine was 10 to the 145th power, compared to 10 to the 81st power, the number of atoms in “all the 50 billion galaxies,” Fleisch says.
“Imagine trying to find one specific atom out of all the atoms in all the stars in all the galaxies in the universe,” he says in the documentary now being completed for public television. “You are trying to find that one that represents the setting of the machine on that day. It is an impossible task unless you have some advantage other than simply trying all the possible sequences.”
The machine to do it was dubbed the “Bombe,” possibly after a frozen dessert fancied by the original Polish codebreakers. Just as Desch required an army of workers to build the machine, Anderson needed a host of scientists, historians, intelligence agents and Bombe workers to fit together the pieces of Desch’s life and tell the story of Dayton’s codebreakers.
Cradled in creativity
To understand Desch, Dayton Codebreakers roots him firmly in his Kirkham Street house wedged among three rail lines in the Edgemont neighborhood that sheltered Italians, Jews, Germans and African-Americans.
Anderson says her father may have caught the creative genius from his father, one of a long line of wagon makers, or was thrust into it by his mother, a German immigrant who insisted on a Catholic education for her son.
“Living on the West Side and being exposed to all the different populations, the different businesses, gave him the confidence and even the imagination” he needed to invent, she said.
As a teenager, Desch taught himself how to blow glass to create vacuum tubes. He would order so many unusual chemicals for experiments that, one day, a chemical company representative showed up on his parents’ doorstep looking for the chemist “Mr. Desch.” His parents directed the man to the boy in his basement lab.
The documentary also sets Desch in a city that fostered great minds and unusual solutions to extraordinary challenges. Desch lived only blocks from where the Wright brothers were testing airplane water landings on the Great Miami River and just across the river from NCR, where John Patterson created new models for business and hired men who would go on to found or lead IBM, Delco, Packard and Standard Register.
It was a combination of a Midwestern work ethic and ingenious know-how that cultivated such inventors, said Paul J. Morman, a UD history professor with a special interest in regional innovation early in the century.
“There’s something about the Midwest that fostered a creative genius that was willing to rethink problems in a fundamentally different way and could do so without established wisdom saying, ‘That’s not the way you do it,’” Morman says.
In the documentary, Anderson describes her father as humorous, opinionated, stubborn and charming. Even as a child, the traits that defined the man she knew were evident. He thrived at Emmanuel Elementary School, where the Marianists stressed quality and creativity with an ethical base. Despite an episode in which he slugged a Marianist who disagreed with him on a math equation, Desch attended UD’s preparatory school on scholarship and gravitated toward an experimental field of electrical engineering, studying toward a bachelor’s degree under Brother Louis Rose, S.M.
“He was Dad’s engineering professor, but it was a brand-new field, and they were learning together,” Anderson says. “The whole love-of-learning thing was part of Dad’s personality, but it was further developed while he was (at UD).”
Desch developed a special relationship with other young Marianists, including Brother Lawrence Boll, who taught Shakespeare, and Brothers Ulrich Rappel and William Bellmer, who shared Desch’s love for science. Anderson says her father would meet with them after school hours to “goof off” and experiment with ham radios.
While he held only a bachelor’s degree, Desch was folded into circles with some of the brightest minds in the nation. Anderson’s mother would tell the story of attending a function at MIT, where he would be introduced as “Dr.” Desch.
“They couldn’t understand that someone so brilliant had only an undergraduate degree,” Dorothy Desch would say.
The highest credit
Desch taught one term of physics at UD before moving on to work at Frigidaire, and then at NCR. Wartime interrupted his cash register work, and the Bombe became one of more than a dozen war assignments for Desch.
The Bombe proved a messy, hot, cranky challenge with a tight timetable. Desch’s service to the Navy began on March 9, 1942. He endured long hours, a severing of ties with his German relatives and constant personal surveillance, including officers assigned to live in the two-bedroom home Desch shared with his wife.
By May 28, 1943, his first two Bombe prototypes — dubbed “Adam” and “Eve” — registered “hits,” highlighting the encryption pattern that could be used to decipher all intercepted transmissions on that day.
The Bombe was taller than a person and twice as long, a cast iron and steel machine with miles of wiring attached to thousands of vacuum tubes. It would whir and grind as it spun out the possible letter combinations, joining with other Bombes on the floor to create a deafening noise.
Shirley McKenzie Anderson (no relation to Debbie Anderson) was one of the WAVES stationed in Dayton. She later traveled to Washington, D.C., to operate the machines.
“It was a clanking sound, with all those machines going at different times and clanking at different times,” she says for the documentary. When the Bombe would hit a pattern that made sense of the code, “it was crash, boom, bang,” she says, reversing itself and halting at the combination where the hit was made.
Desch’s engineering team and the WAVES constructed 121 Bombes and sent them by rail to Washington, D.C. Of those 121, only one machine remains intact, housed in the NSA Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Md.
The Bombe’s contribution to the war is hotly debated, but Baylor University associate professor of history Eric Rust gives the Bombe project the credit he believes it’s due. The son of a German U-boat officer and a former member of the German military who has experience with Enigma encryption technology, Rust calls the Bombe’s effect “tremendous.”
“The Dayton operation gave the Allied side, especially Americans, a tremendous advantage by saving the Allies time, by not wasting resources on operations that would have otherwise not been necessary had there been no Enigma intercepts,” says Rust, who is featured in Dayton Codebreakers. “It saved personnel and it saved lives because fewer were exposed to the dangers of the war.”
Based on the combined efforts of the Bombes operating in Washington and the Ultra project in England’s Bletchley Park, Rust says that up to 54 U-boats were destroyed.
Desch’s contributions were also noted by President Harry S. Truman, who signed Desch’s 1947 National Medal of Merit citation.
“By his brilliant originality, superb skill and immeasurable perseverance, he contributed essentially to the effectiveness of important technical developments of great significance in the successful conclusion of the war,” the citation reads. “Mr. Desch’s technical skill and fine professional judgment reflect the highest credit upon him, and upon the scientific tradition of the United States.”
Such glowing words grace a piece of paper yellowed with age and once forgotten. It’s a story that’s no longer top-secret, ready to be classified among America’s greatest success stories.
Michelle Tedford inherited her love for military history from her father, Clint Tedford, the first to tell her the story of the 1835 Toledo War.
Have you ever had one of those days when you woke up in a bad mood and you knew you were not going to be fun to be around? Steve McElvene never did. In fact, Big Steve was the guy who changed your mood on those days. Big Steve was always laughing and making others laugh.
Of course, it was fun to watch his growth as a basketball player; there was no doubt he was going to be a special player. But the best thing about Big Steve was that he was a special person.
All throughout campus, people knew Big Steve. He was hard to miss at 6-foot-11; but had he been 6-foot, people would still know him. He never met a person he wasn’t willing to talk to. Talking to Steve for even 10 seconds meant you were either going to laugh or he was going to flash you his big smile. You’d think there would be some students who wouldn’t picture themselves hanging out in the dorms with a 7-foot basketball player. But there was Big Steve hanging out with anyone and everyone who wanted to be around him.
He was famous for screaming during his NBA 2K video game matches in Marycrest residence hall. Steve was never very good at video games, but he’d never turn down a game. Then there was the time Steve and two of his friends held up traffic in front of Caldwell apartments because they had to finish their dance routine. Steve loved dancing and, as with everything else, did not care if others thought he was good or not.
Steve was just about spreading joy. The basketball team believed Big Steve was at his best when he was around us, but Steve’s love and memory can be shared with everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him.
Some of the best Big Steve stories do come from him on the basketball court. After sitting out his first year, Steve was enormously excited to play in his first game; his entire family came to Dayton to watch him. Steve had transformed his body to the point where he was an entirely new player. Early in the game, Steve scored his first career basket and proceeded up the court while looking and shouting toward his family. While he was doing that, the player he was guarding ran down the court and scored. Steve was just so excited to be playing basketball.
Once, at an open gym, Steve was talking about how he was going to dunk on guys and called out people who got dunked on. Kendall Pollard then dunked all over Steve. That did nothing to stop Steve from talking trash though.
Flyer Fans may want to forget the Advocare Invitational against Xavier, but Steve made it memorable for the team. Coach Miller emphasized to us that Xavier would run a certain play to get a dunk to start the game. In typical Steve fashion, he let the team know that no one was going to be dunking on him. The first possession for Xavier ended with Steve being dunked on.
That game did not go well for any Flyer. There were many long faces afterward; Steve was one of them. The team didn’t talk about that game until a few days later in the locker room when Steve made a joke about Kendall getting dunked on. In an instant the room was filled with loud voices and laughter pointing out to Steve that it was him who got dunked on.
I think Steve knew it was him from the beginning; but, knowing our team needed something to get our spirits up, he was perfectly fine being the butt of the joke. Steve just wanted to play basketball with his brothers and make people happy.
The way someone lives a life can teach others important lessons; Steve’s was no different. He taught us how to be truly selfless and that the only way to be truly fulfilled in life is to have an impact on the other people around you. We should all ask ourselves if we are making an impact on our community. It doesn’t have to be by being the personality Steve was; an impact can be made in a multitude of ways.
Scholarships are one such way. Ann Kremer had never met Big Steve but, as an avid Dayton Flyers fan, was inspired by what he stood for, both on and off the court. After his death, she wanted to keep his spirit alive. Through the Naum Family Foundation, Ann established a scholarship at UD, what she calls “the first big step” in creating a legacy for Steve’s name.
She said she hopes her gift “will inspire others touched like I was by this remarkable young man to think about how we too can make a positive impact on our UD community.”
For me and my teammates, Steve’s passing from a heart condition was sad, but it inspired us at the same time.
We, his teammates, can remember Steve by living life to the fullest and chasing our dreams. Steve had big dreams of playing in the NBA. As his teammates we must pursue our dreams with the same work ethic and drive that Steve used to become a college basketball player.
More importantly, we must pursue our dreams with Steve in our mind and hearts. Because he can’t, we must. We are our brother’s keeper.
Big Steve inspired others
Steve McElvene holds the Dayton Flyers men’s basketball program’s record for blocked shots in a season. But he also, even after his death following that impressive freshman season, has a hold on the memories and dreams of those who knew him. Teammate and friend Jeremiah Bonsu ’17 was one of those touched by Big Steve… and he continues to be.
McElvene’s example also impressed Ann Kremer. She wanted to ensure that it would be an inspiration for future students. So she established a scholarship in his memory. And with the help of others also touched by McElvene’s vibrancy and generosity, Kremer hopes to see Big Steve’s spirit continue to enrich Dayton Flyers for a long time to come. The Steve McElvene Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to a Flyer student-athlete, manager or trainer who has financial need and exhibits the characteristics that Big Steve did — working hard in sports and in academics, acting as a good teammate and embracing life with enthusiasm.2 Comments
by Emily McAlesse
We floated atop the Yangtze River alongside cliffs where monkeys run wild and goats trek up their faces. The blue water reflected the rusty colored cliffs of this magnificent wonder. The air was so fresh that one breath in and you feel the energy filling your lungs and your soul.
Nine River Stewards joined Chinese tourists in viewing this natural wonder of China, one of the waterways that helped us learn more about social, cultural, political and economic forces that shape this country.
China conveys a culture that wants to do things big. And when I say big, I mean BIG. That thinking can be seen in the design and planning of the Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze. It is the largest hydroelectric dam in the world, but it can also be described as the most controversial dam in the world. Completed in 2003, this dam forced 1.3 million people to move because of rising water levels and flooded 13 cities, 140 towns and 1,350 villages.
Along with us on our floating classroom was professor Wang Yipei from Renmim University of China, who for 17 years has been documenting life in the river valley. He stressed to us to dig deeper into what the people have lost. It wasn’t just their homes; they lost their spiritual connection to the land where they lived and their ancestors are buried.
The boat stopped at a cultural site called Fengdu Ghost City, advertised as one of the few remaining religious sites along The Three Gorges. After we were grouped with the other English speakers, our guide walked us to the entrance where 7-foot statues stood guard. The guide described how these warriors protect the ghost city. Some of the statues there had been relocated here from places now under water; others were recreations. Dr. Dan later challenged the group to consider how the scene has been adapted for tourism.
Our tour guides talked of the damming and flooding with pride for this grand innovation. But we learned that within China, there is not widespread knowledge of the environmental impacts or the challenges people faced. Some people had to swap rural lives for homes in skyscrapers. I began thinking of all the ways that waterways impact a society. As a sociology major, I help research Dayton’s immigrant population, but I had never stopped to consider internal displacement. As a River Steward, I also thought about our push for renewable energies. As China is becoming a leader in renewable energy, part of that is from hydropower, which initially sounded good to me. Now I know there are pros and cons to each development decision, which will make me look more closely at the projects happening to my neighbors upstream and downstream as I paddle along the Great Miami River watershed.
My study abroad experience in China smashed all the preconceptions I’d had about the country. Everything I read and heard had told me China was crowded and polluted, that I wouldn’t like the food or understand the traditions. Still, I cautiously accepted the invitation to apply to study there. This was an opportunity to compare how China and the United States manage waterways and regulate the governments and industries that use them. After meeting the country’s citizens, floating on its canals and visiting its temples, I learned my preconceptions were wrong.
Like so many other UD students who have studied in China, the River Stewards used the University of Dayton China Institute in Suzhou as our base. This was a great advantage for us. We took orientation classes and got acclimated to the city. In class, we presented on the books we had read prior to traveling to China, including on China’s green revolution and the economy of water.
One of the greatest assets of the institute is its staff, who work with our faculty to ensure we feel welcome. They are also there to help those of us unaccustomed to international travel. When the money machine ate my bank card, Dong Zhang, the institute’s director of student programming, responded to my plea over WeChat and picked me up at 7 a.m. to help retrieve it.
While in Suzhou, we stayed in apartments where UD students attending the China Institute typically stay, as well as students attending other universities around the area. I became friends with students from England, Germany, France and other places around the world. I learned about their studies and their perspectives on China. And it was really awesome to have those apartments as a home base that we could return to after long days of venturing out.
One weekend, we traveled with the other students from the China Institute to a place that would become my favorite town. It was a water town, one of many ancient places built along the waterways around Suzhou. Our first glimpse of Zhouzhuang revealed rows and rows of colored windmills hanging from clothes line throughout the town. Every two or three streets would be separated by a canal, along which you could visit silk shops, jewelry makers and ice cream vendors. It was breathtaking.
Before going to China, I didn’t have any desire to go to China. Now that I’m back, I want to speak out and encourage every student to go. How can you not be passionate about the culture, the institute staff, the fashion trends? I’d go back in a heartbeat. China not only left a lasting impression but also proved to be a beautiful, green country filled with kind and generous people.
The Grand Canal is so long, we flew from one end to see the other. It begins in Beijing, where we saw a stagnant body of water walled in by stone upstaged by the bustle of Tiananmen Square. It ends in Hangzhou, where smaller waterways branch off among neighborhoods and people still travel and trade by water.
The Grand Canal, which became unified during the Sui dynasty of the seventh century, is the longest canal in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was originally built to connect the emperor’s city to others for trading and communication. Cities along its more than 1,100 miles have recently become tourist destinations, bringing business to its residents. Just north of Hangzhou, where the canal meets the Yangtze River, the waterway runs wide and barges still haul coal and other goods.
As River Stewards, our mission is to educate the community about the importance of our watershed and natural resources. When we went to China, we wanted to observe the Grand Canal at several locations to see how the people there interact with their water systems and resources and compare that to what we see in Dayton.
Chinese people have developed a unique and beautiful relationship with the canal, building water towns along the edges. In Old Suzhou, which has been called the Venice of the East, its residents hang laundry from lines above the waterways and vendors serve stinky tofu. To connect with the water, its citizens just open their doors or sit along their terraces. Old Suzhou is also a popular tourist destination. When you take a ride in an old-fashioned gondola-shaped boat, you can hear the people singing ancient songs and observe diners sitting in cafes under the light of red lanterns.
In Dayton, we have a very different relationship with the Great Miami River. Much of the shoreline is paved with bike trails and public parks, as well as business and industry. People must travel from their homes to experience all that the river has to offer. As a River Steward, I strive to connect the residents of Dayton with their aquatic neighborhood by providing opportunities to paddle, learn and grow.
As Stewards, we explain the history of our watershed through exhibits in the RiverMobile. So we were excited to learn about a special project at the University of Dayton China Institute in Suzhou, which is along the Grand Canal. Chen Jing, a professor at Nanjing University teaching at the China Institute, is working with UD and other universities to preserve and display the history of the Grand Canal. She showed us ancient maps of the canal that had been painted onto scrolls. CJ and her photographers recreated these maps with current photographs of the sites to demonstrate the development and modernization of China’s cities. I’m excited we’ll get to help with this interactive presentation to be featured on campus in Roesch Library this October. It’s one of the ways we can bring the lessons we learned back from China to share.
I first went to China in spring 2016 to spend a semester at the UD China Institute. As a computer engineering major, I was there to take mostly engineering classes. But I had also just completed my first semester as a River Steward, which really shaped how I viewed my study abroad experience. In Suzhou, you pass waterways everywhere, including on your walk from the student apartments to the China Institute. They are hard to miss. As a River Steward, I wanted to learn more about how the Chinese use their water systems and protect their water.
I decided to focus my study on Lake Tai, the third largest lake in China. It borders large cities like Suzhou and dozens of smaller cities and villages that are home to chemical processing factories that use lake water. Pollution gets dumped back in the lake, as does agricultural runoff from the lowlands that stretch to the South China Sea. Both contribute to blooms of blue-green algae that kill fish and make the lake smell.
This summer, I got to return to Lake Tai. When the Rivers Institute bus stopped by a bridge near Wuxi on the northeastern edge of the lake, we saw Lake Tai’s vivid green water that smelled of dead fish and sewage on one side of the bridge. On the other side was Lihu Bay, with bright blue waters and natural vegetation. At one time, it had also looked green and sickly. Dr. Dan and Dr. Wang arranged for government officials to tell us how they cleaned the bay. First, they walled it off from the lake with the bridge. Then they required industry to relocate away from the water’s edge and planted natural vegetation to slow and filter runoff. Dredging cleaned pollutants from the muddy bottom, while the existing water was cleaned and flushed with water from cleaner sources.
After the presentation, the Stewards wondered, “What’s next?” We were skeptical that the intensive and costly
cleanup of this one bay could be replicated along more than 200 miles of shoreline through multiple jurisdictions.
But we also wondered what was next for us. What role and responsibility do we have as River Stewards? As with any challenge, we apply the breadth of knowledge and experience present in our interdisciplinary cohort. And we listen to the community to determine how our resources can contribute to a community-based solution.
Along with our director Leslie King, Dr. Dan and Dr. Wang, we are now discussing how the Stewards might participate in water quality monitoring at Wuxi. Having the China Institute as a base opens up the possibilities for participation in a variety of projects, whose results we could apply in our own backyard. I know if any one of those projects offers a way for me to combine my computer engineering education with
water quality, I’ll happily head back to China for the third time.
Ashley Clevenger looked at the reflections of a hundred colored spinning pinwheels and saw in the rippling waters a mirror to an earlier time.
The junior exercise physiology major was standing in Zhouzhuang, a river town about a half-hour drive from the University of Dayton China Institute in Suzhou Industrial Park.
In Suzhou, glass skyscrapers rise from the lakeside, while multiple lanes of traffic rush across bridges linking the ultramodern city with the countryside.
In the river town, ancient stone buildings flank waterways on which citizens navigate pole-propelled boats as they head to work, to market or to meet a friend for tea.
How quickly one can go from present and future to past, all along China’s Grand Canal.
This was one of the lessons sociology professor Dan Curran wanted Clevenger and her fellow River Steward classmates to consider during their summer study abroad in China. The University president emeritus, along with Rivers Institute Director Leslie King and China Institute Dean Weiping Wang, guided the nine students during their summer studies. It was an opportunity for a comparative study of water use, protections and policies in China and in Dayton, where the Stewards are known for their community-based approach to water education and action.
With the China Institute as their base, the students learned about both ancient and modern Suzhou and how it has developed thanks to the canal that winds through its borders. They also traveled across eastern China, visiting both ends of the Grand Canal — Beijing in the north and Hangzhou in the south — as well as other pivotal water sites, including the famed Three Gorges Dam.
“The beauty of this place is something that can never be captured in pictures,” she said.
Curran, whose academic study of China spans more than three decades, had been to the gorge before some of the villages were submerged under a hundred feet of water as it rose behind the world’s largest dam. But still, he said, the perspective of the Stewards changed his perspective on the dam and the course. An engineering major shared his views on the construction of the dam, while a geology student provided a lesson on rock formations and how using the tree line — the altitude of a mountain beyond which trees rarely grow — can reveal the extent of the river’s rise.
“It was an advantage having multiple sets of eyes looking at the landscape from multiple perspectives,” Curran said. “They look and said what was of interest to them, and they shared what would be of interest to other students who will follow them.”
Curran is incorporating their ideas into the course Socioeconomic Change in China: A Case Study of Suzhou and Its Waters, which he is again teaching fall semester in Suzhou.
Now back on UD’s campus, the Stewards continue to find themselves immersed in China’s waterways. They will serve as ambassadors for a new multimedia exhibit Heritage Today: The Grand Canal of China, to be presented in Roesch Library Oct. 23 to Dec. 1.
The exhibit will include a wrap-around map of the canal with ancient and modern images superimposed along its pathway. On display will be eight plexiglass models of canal towns and cities in Jiangsu Province, with layers showing the evolution of the cities through time. Visitors can view an English-language documentary on the canal, see a reproduction of an ancient scroll and try out a demo version of the forthcoming Grand Canal database.
But it’s more than an opportunity for the Stewards to share their knowledge of the UNESCO World Heritage Site with the UD community, Curran said. The exhibit is part of a larger Grand Canal project, led by the China Institute, to reclaim moments of history while also revealing the voices and experiences of the people who currently live along the canal. It includes vast data collection, photos, videos, oral histories, reproductions of ancient paintings, and the development of an interactive website that will make the data available to scholars in both Chinese and English.
The multimedia database of living cultural heritage will also allow users to contribute their own data and stories to the site, said Wang, who has a particular interest in bridging academics with ordinary people and merging history with present-day practice.
“The project is not just for academics, it’s not just for scholars; it’s for the community,” Wang said.
Created in partnership with Nanjing University, Nanjing University for the Arts, Tsinghua University and Nanjing Museum, one of China’s largest museums, the Grand Canal project reflects a historical and cultural contribution that sets UD apart from other American universities, Curran said. The project’s first phase, including the interactive database, is expected to be complete in 2018.
It is the global importance of water that ties together the students, professors, course, waterways and continents.
King stressed the comparative nature of water studies — of how an understanding of cause and effect in local contexts can result in sustained research and community-led, student-based international projects. For example, the Stewards visited Lake Tai, which experiences annual toxic algae blooms, and talked to officials about clean-up strategies. That led to conversations about opportunities for the students to conduct future water monitoring as well as for officials to come to Dayton to learn from the Stewards about community-based approaches to water education and remediation.
“It’s about creating more opportunities for the students by using the strengths and assets of the University,” King said.
The comparative nature of experiential learning also unveiled the similarities between Dayton and Suzhou and the efforts to make the invisible visible again. In Dayton, that includes awareness of the buried valley aquifer, the source of the region’s clean drinking water. In China, it means reclaiming the Grand Canal’s heritage as well as understanding its role in modern society.
“The Grand Canal has been a resource for so many people,” Clevenger said of the waterway which began construction in the fifth century B.C. for the transportation of goods and troops to support the emperor. “These hidden places have much to reveal about history.”
For Clevenger, Zhouzhuang became her favorite part of her summer experience. She plans for those lessons to take her far, perhaps someday back to China to learn more about its water ways.
Read more about the study abroad experience from student reflections.No Comments
For Justin Bayer, a visit to the University as a high schooler changed his life in more ways than one.
Even though the University wasn’t part of his collegiate list as a high school student, his campus visit changed everything — both academically and professionally.
“My junior year in high school, UD wasn’t even on my radar. After probably the fifth time my guidance counselor encouraged me to visit, I finally did,” he said.
It was the campus visit that propelled Bayer, then a student at Archbishop Moeller, to make the University his new home.
“That was the turning point for the rest of my life,” Bayer, a Cincinnati native now living in New Orleans, said.
The visit had such an impact on him that nine years after graduating he developed his own startup company, Welcome To College, to help make the campus visit an even better experience.
Welcome To College has created ambassador management software that helps colleges ignite meaningful connections with prospective students before, during and after the college visit experience. Students can learn about the school before they arrive and begin forming relationships with the tour guides via online interactions.
Welcome To College also provides consulting, training and analysis for clients. More than 50 universities, including the University of Dayton, use Welcome To College to enhance the college visit experience.
“It’s been the classic roller coaster ride. We’re still in the bottom of the first inning of the Welcome To College journey,” Bayer said of his future goals.
He added, “It’s all about being surrounded by people who believe in you. Without my wife’s full-time support and help from many others along the way, I couldn’t have done this.”
Despite the hard work of founding a startup, Bayer says he wouldn’t trade what he does for anything.
“I don’t think I’ve been put on the planet to do anything but what we’re doing right now,” he said.
Brilliant brainstorms that took root at the University of Dayton and changed the world
Being able to feed oneself fulfills a basic human need. Jonathan Dekar ’11 is giving that power back to people with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other conditions that limit range of motion through his invention, Obi. The tabletop device has an automated spoon, robotic arm and a four-course compartmentalized plate that can accommodate foods cut into sizes ranging from a pea to a grape. Dekar first worked on a prototype of the robotic eating device during his freshman-year engineering course. Ten years later, Obi is now available for home use. The device can be operated by switches controlled by the head, shoulders, legs, feet or mouth. “This wasn’t just another engineering project, getting food from point A to point B. I wanted it to be emotionally empowering and inspiring,” Dekar said.
PUTTING OUT FIRES
Among the 92 patents held by Carroll Hochwalt, Class of 1920, was the creation of the first practical chemical fire extinguisher. In 1925, Hochwalt sought the assistance of Brother William Wohlleben, S.M. ’04, with developing a non-freezing fire extinguisher. Wohlleben provided laboratory space for Hochwalt and his partner, Charles Thomas, to perfect a product that they subsequently sold to the Fyr Fyter Co. In his patent filed May 29, 1929, Hochwalt describes how they discovered potassium lactate not only was superior in extinguishing fires but also prevented the extinguisher from freezing at temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius and below. Among his other innovations with household applications were the process for iodizing Morton’s Salt, creating a low-suds washing machine detergent called All and developing a fast-aging technique for the National Distillers’ Association. In 1936, they sold Thomas & Hochwalt Laboratories to Monsanto, where Hochwalt became director of central research.
One day in his lab at DuPont, Charles Pedersen ’26 discovered, as a byproduct to what he was trying to do, some unknown crystals. He named them crown ethers. “Crown,” he said, because official names “were so complex and hard for me to remember.” And they were like crowns because, unlike necklaces, they had no fasteners that opened and closed; they maintained their unbroken structure during reactions. Despite that remarkable characteristic, crown ethers seemed to hold little prospect of immediate commercial value. Nevertheless, DuPont let Pedersen work on them for nine years. Later they became used in many applications from isolating and removing small, harmful concentrations of mercury from drinking water to helping identify potassium in blood samples.
And one day later in life, Pedersen got a phone call. From Sweden. He had won the 1987 Nobel Prize for chemistry.
In harness racing, a horse and driver can reach speeds of 30 mph. Between the driver and the track are two wheels and a seat attached to the frame. Bad news if the frame breaks. Odds of that happening were reduced a quarter of a century ago when the UD Research Institute analyzed sulky frames and developed standards and a testing procedure for the United States Trotting Association. UDRI’s Structures and Materials Assessment, Research and Testing Lab became then and is still now the only lab that certifies that a new or revised model of a sulky meets those standards of durability. The lab tests approximately a half dozen sulkies per year — a small fraction of its volume of testing products from ballet shoes to the F-22.
When a worker opens a commercial dishwasher hood, a plume of hot, moist air escapes and creates an uncomfortable situation for the worker plus heat loss from the machine. Students in UD’s Innovation Center helped Hobart, an international food services company, create a solution to improve operator comfort and save energy for reheating the dishwasher. Seven students are listed on the non-provisional patent filing, which will publish on the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in early 2018. The team estimates the invention will improve the energy efficiency of an Energy Star machine by at least 5 percent and the drying efficiency by at least 25 percent. “In an age where energy is getting expensive and standards keep rising, every bit counts,” said Alexander Anim-Mensah, Hobart engineering manager and the student group’s mentor.
HOT HOT HOT
If you’ve ordered delivery from Domino’s Pizza and your pie was still steaming when it arrived, you can thank research done at UD Research Institute for your hot meal. Research conducted at the labs on campus and led by renowned scientist Ival Salyer created phase-change materials that store heat as they melt and release heat as they freeze. UDRI began researching phase-change materials in the 1980s for thermal energy storage, energy conservation and energy cost-savings in buildings. The technology can melt and solidify at precise temperatures, which allows for heat to be released when needed. By the mid- 1990s, licenses for the technology’s use included hot and cold food serving ware, hand warmers, earmuffs and the shipment of temperature sensitive materials — and Domino’s is the only pizza joint that has rights to the “hot bags.”
In 1952, UD hired its first five full-time researchers, who pulled up stakes for several risky, classified projects to study the effects of nuclear weapons on aircraft and aircraft components after atomic bomb detonation tests in Nevada. Although safety precautions were taken, it was still dangerous work. “After the blast, we waited about three or four hours and went in with a monitor, a guy who measured radiation,” Charles R. “Bob” Andrews, one of the researchers, said in 1996. “You had to get in and get out quickly.” One test took them to Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, where the researchers flew in a B-56 near a thermonuclear detonation. The explosive yield was nearly twice what was expected, and the plane landed safely despite crushed landing gear doors and an airplane skin that was wrinkled and burnt down to bare metal. Results yielded ways to protect aircraft instruments from extreme heat, radiation and physical shock. It was the beginning of structural testing, which continues to be one of UD Research Institute’s hallmark research areas.
In 1961, a graduate student’s thesis spawned the UD Research Institute’s first vibration damping research. It grew into a nationally recognized damping team that develops, tests and analyzes sound and vibration-absorbing materials. Researchers used these techniques to fix an airplane engine ring that was cracking and at risk of damaging the engine; the polymer-based fix was applied in 2004 to the Navy’s entire AV-8B Harrier jet fleet. In addition to improving aircraft safety and longevity, researchers have also developed damping systems to reduce vibrations on laser telescopes and satellites and improve the results of air bag testing on crash dummies.
Blaine West didn’t know anything about aircraft windshields until 1975, when he met with U.S. Air Force engineers worried about a new trend: The Air Force was losing an aircraft every eight months because of geese, ducks and other birds striking aircraft windshields during low-level flying. “It was obvious that the failure was related to the support frame’s stiffness, and that strength was a problem,” said West, a former researcher from the UD Research Institute, in 1996. The solution: Make the system stronger by making it weaker — a less rigid windshield allowed the “punch” of impact to be transferred to the larger structure. By the late 1970s the Air Force had used UDRI designs to retrofit its entire F-111 fleet. Since then, UDRI has tested and redesigned windshields and canopies for the Air Force and Navy, including the F-15, F-16, F-18, F-22, B-1, B-2, AV-8, A-7, T-38, V-22 and KTX-2 models. A lieutenant colonel once said to West: “I want to thank you. … I was flying the other day in an F-111. Four ducks hit the windshield, and I’m still here.”
Bob Kauffman was called on as one of the principal investigators to find out what happened to TWA 800, which exploded and crashed in 1996 killing all 230 people aboard. Kauffman, a UDRI researcher, believed that a frayed fuel-sensor wire most likely played a significant role in the explosion. After the crash, Kauffman and senior research physicist Doug Wolf created the SMART (Status and Motion Activated Radiofrequency Tag) sensor for use in smart clamps to hold aircraft wiring in place to help prevent tragedies like the TWA explosion. The technology uses an inexpensive, modified radiofrequency identification tag that “tells” a handheld device reader if a clamp or wire has been compromised. It is also being evaluated as a way to indicate if a monitored item has gotten too hot.
In 2009, Bob Kauffman’s self-healing wire, which he developed at UDRI, was named one of the 100 “most technologically significant new products” by R&D Magazine. Known as PATCH (Power Activated Technology for Coating and Healing), the technology helps prevent frayed wires from potentially catching fire. His invention was in response to the 1996 TWA crash that killed everyone aboard and is thought to have occurred because of faulty wiring. The technology works when polyvinyl alcohol is sprayed onto the wire or wire bundle. If that liquid comes into contact with an exposed or live wire, the electrical current at the breach will transform the spray into an insoluble polymer coating. A second form of PATCH is designed to be built directly into the wires, where the solid form of polyvinyl is embedded within the wire and its insulation. If the insulation is breached while the wire is live, the PATCH coating draws moisture from the air and a chemical reaction creates a permanent repair for the wire and its breach. Automotive and helicopter companies are looking to employ PATCH for hard-to-reach wires.
On one rainy day in New Jersey in October 2010, a G-4 Gulfstream aircraft overran its runway while landing at Teterboro Airport. This could have proven deadly. However, no one on board was injured and the plane safely came to a stop. Why? Crushable concrete. Formally called Engineered Material Arresting Systems, EMAS is a mixture of lightweight concrete and a foaming agent. When a vehicle runs over the material, it collapses and provides enough friction to safely decelerate moving planes. The material was created at UD Research Institute in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City was the first to install an EMAS bed at the end of some runways in 1996. UDRI’s work in runway disaster prevention dates back to the late 1980s. The material has a 100% success rate in stopping aircraft.
Investigators count on the black boxes to give them data to determine what went wrong during an airplane crash and keep it from happening again. Kevin Poormon ’87 is helping them by shooting these boxes — officially known as flight data and cockpit voice recorders — out of a cannon. The compressed gas gun at the UD Research Institute sends the boxes hurling at 350 mph into an aluminum honeycomb barrier to simulate a crash impact at 3,400 times the force of gravity. “That’s because black boxes have to survive, even if everything else doesn’t survive,” said Poormon, research engineer and leader of the impacts physics group. He has also used the cannon to test how space station shielding holds up to meteoroid and orbital debris.
While ceramic coatings in particular are useful in strengthening biomedical implants and improving tissue adhesion, they are resource-intensive to create and pose a risk to the environment. Assistant professor of biology Karolyn Hansen has patented a process for creating an alternative using oyster shells. By depositing cells extracted from the mantle of an oyster onto a surface, Hansen and her collaborators, including her husband Doug Hansen of the UD Research Institute, have successfully induced the creation of oyster shell layers as a coating. This oyster-derived material is a strong, natural ceramic and can be manufactured at room temperature and pressure with no chemical solvents, she said. Uses range from coating metal implants used to repair bones to creating protective coatings for aircraft.
ChurchLink was an idea intended to connect the millennial generation with their churches. Today, it’s a customizable app serving more than 3,000 churches. Entrepreneur Niel Petersen and then-student Robyn Bradford ’12 pitched the idea to UD’s business plan competition in 2012. Thanks in part to the competition and its $15,000 prize, Petersen launched the business and now employees a staff of 10. ChurchLink creates apps with individualized design and coding and includes functionality that allows members to communicate or make a gift online. “Development is continual, ongoing and complex,” Petersen said of the app, now used in 50 states and 27 countries.
Rita Rapp’s meals were out of this world. A 1950 pre-med graduate, Rapp joined the NASA Space Task Group at Langley Field in 1961 and was among the early pioneers of the space program. As an aerospace technologist specializing in environmental physiology, she was responsible for the design and development of food and packaging systems during the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Skylab programs. Astronaut Charles Duke, lunar module pilot for Apollo 16, talked about how Rapp would introduce variety into their pre-packaged meals: “You had pea soup, you had cream of tomato soup, you had mushroom soup, maybe; and you had different kinds of breads and you had the tuna spread and peanut butter spread and the ham spread.” The photo shows Rapp posing with “Day 4, Meal A” from Apollo 16, the last lunar mission to land on the Moon on April 21, 1972.
Architect Bruce John Graham once said that, before he traveled to the United States, he had never seen a building more than 10 stories tall. In 1943, Graham was 15 and living in Puerto Rico when he won a scholarship to attend UD to study engineering, staying just over a year before enlisting in the Navy during World War ll. Graham’s most visible legacy stands high above Chicago: the 100-story Hancock Center and the 110-story Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower), the world’s tallest building when it was completed in 1973. The tower was constructed using the groundbreaking tubular frame method, and to this day is the second tallest in the United States and 16th tallest building in the world. It hosts more than 1 million visitors to its observation deck each year. Graham died March 6, 2010, at the age of 84.
The next time your computer freezes, you can thank a Flyer when you’re quickly able to unlock it. Best known for inventing the three-key sequence known as control-alt-delete, David Bradley ’71 holds 10 patents related to computer design and was one of the original 12 engineers who began work on the IBM personal computer in 1980. Bradley, who earned a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from UD, said he was fed up with restarting the personal computer every time it malfunctioned, and so control-alt-delete was born. “It took all of about nine steps and five to 10 minutes to code,” he said. Initially meant for programmers, the keystroke caught on with the public.
Charles Magatti ’71 may not be a household name, but the drug he helped invent is: Claritin. The popular allergy medicine, known generically as loratadine, is on the World Health Organization’s 2017 List of Essential Medicines for the most effective, safe and cost-effective medicine for priority conditions. Magatti co-invented the drug while working for Schering-Plough, which is estimated to have made $15 billion from the antihistamine between 1993 and 2002, when its patent was active in the United States. “It’s the ultimate achievement for a chemist,” said Magatti, who studied chemistry at UD. “People work in this industry for 40 years and are never fortunate enough to discover a new drug.” Magatti retired from Schering-Plough in 2000 with six patents.
Dr. Mary Ann Warnowicz Papp, a cardiologist and 1970 biology graduate, needed a better way to manage prescriptions for her patients. So in the late 1990s, she went to the School of Engineering for help. Students helped her create the device now known as EMMA, the first of its kind remote medication management system. The box provides individual unit dose control managed by web-based scheduling that is remotely controlled and programmed by a pharmacist. “The biggest waste of health care dollars is pharmacies dispensing a 30- or 90-day supply of medication because the medication is unlikely to be used in that fashion,” Papp said. Automated dispensing can also prevent expensive hospitalizations caused by patients who don’t properly manage their prescriptions. On Papp’s patents for the device is listed co-inventor Chris Schmidt ’99, a member of the seven-student team. EMMA is now being sold through INRange Systems.
If you’ve ever used a computer, driven a car, flown in an airplane, gotten jiggy to the tunes on your MP3 player, talked on a cell phone, operated a video or digital camera or have been subjected to an MRI, you are benefiting from the discovery of the amazing magnetic properties of rare earth-cobalt alloys by Karl Strnat and his co-workers at the UD Research Institute. Strnat’s pioneering work in 1966 led to the discovery of magneto-crystalline anisotropy in rare earth cobalt intermetallic compounds. What? Simply put, these and later-generation related rare-earth magnets are many times stronger and more stable than the magnets they replaced. They led to the miniaturization of devices that previously required heavy and bulky magnets and gave rise to the development of many electronic devices that require tiny motors, speakers, transmitters and receivers. Strnat retired from his research work and teaching at UD in 1990 and died in 1992.
You can inherit your father’s eye color or mother’s smile — and you can also inherit a family disposition for experiencing severe side effects to chemotherapy drugs, including hearing or sensory loss. Eileen Dolan ’79, a professor of medicine at University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, has dedicated her research to making chemotherapy more effective and less toxic. Her lab identifies DNA variants through studies in patients receiving chemotherapy and in the laboratory by building preclinical models of the toxicity. Her research contributes to efforts to implement genetics into clinical care for cancer patients. Dolan focuses primarily on children and young adults who might experience long-term side effects from chemotherapy because they have their lives ahead of them. “A patient’s genetics sheds light on potential targets for new drugs to prevent or treat these devastating toxicities,” she said.
Students from the ETHOS Center in the School of Engineering used local materials and labor to create an environmentally friendly refrigeration method for a nongovernmental organization in Bihar, India. The Solar-Thermal Absorptive Refrigeration system provides refrigeration for medications and vaccines that could spoil in areas with inconsistent or nonexistent electricity supplies. Students designed the prototype and won three awards for their design at the 2016 USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. Work continues on phase two of the project, thanks in part to a $75,000 grant from the EPA to project advisers Amy Ciric and Jun-Ki Choi, faculty in the renewable and clean energy program.
In 1964 and 1965, the rubella pandemic hit the United States, where 1.5 million people contracted the disease also known as German measles. The toll was greatest among the young, including 11,000 pregnant U.S. women who lost their babies and 2,100 newborn deaths. It was the last rubella pandemic the U.S. would have to endure, thanks in part to Col. Edward Buescher ’45. Buescher was a member of the team which, in 1962, isolated and characterized the rubella virus as the cause of German measles. His accomplishment allowed scientists to produce a vaccine, and widespread immunization of children in the United States began in 1970. “[C]ountless lives will be saved in the nation and abroad,” read the citation for the Legion of Merit, bestowed on Buescher in 1969 by the president of the United States.
The power of Curiosity was born at the UD Research Institute. Chad Barklay, a senior research engineer in the Research Institute’s energy technologies and materials division, developed the layout and assembly procedures for the radioisotope power system currently on Mars that operates the Curiosity rover’s wheels, robotic arm, computers, radio and instruments. “We helped build the proverbial tail on the Curiosity dog,” said Barklay, referring to the power generator attached to the back end of the rover — whose design, including camera “head,” make it appear somewhat canine-like. The power system, called a multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator, works by converting heat created by naturally decaying isotopes into electricity to power the rover. Heat from the generator also keeps the rover’s mechanical, computer and communication systems at operating temperature. Barklay and his colleagues continue testing a model of the generator in UDRI labs in preparation for future space missions.
Zach McHale ’06 attends more that 20 college basketball games a year. “But it’s always bothered me that I’ve never had a good place to store my coat,” he said. His consternation became an invention with the Neet Seat, a spandex pouch that slips over your stadium and arena seats to hold coats and other items, keeping them off the floor. McHale, a chemical engineering graduate, won first place and $25,000 during the University’s 2017 Flyer Pitch business plan competition. In July, he launched a campaign to take Neet Seat into production. His company philosophy, he said, “is to create solutions that make the fan experience better — more comfortable and more enjoyable.”
NO HOLDS BARRED
Practically every item you’ve purchased in the last 40 years has a Flyer’s signature on it. Paul McEnroe ’59 first developed the bar code to improve efficiency at the supermarket. While working at IBM in 1969, he pulled together a team, contributed technically, and created a vertical bar-coding system and scanning technology known as the UPC. The last he heard, the world was scanning 5 billion bar codes daily. “What could you invent that touches more people?” he asked. And he has more inventions to his name, including the Local Area Network to connect computers, multi-chip modules for computer processing and the addition of the magnetic stripe to the SKU to allow it to be scanned like a credit card.
The SMART dipstick takes all of the guesswork out of knowing whether or not oil has gone bad or if there is still some life in it, thanks to work done by researchers at UD Research Institute beginning in the late 1980s. In 1992, R&D Magazine awarded the invention as one of the 100 most technologically significant products of that year. The device, called RULER (Remaining Useful Life Evaluation Routine) works with all types of oils, from fast-food deep fryers to government aircraft. Researchers Bob Kauffman and Douglas Wolf developed the product to quickly determine when it’s time to change the oil. It does so by calculating how much antioxidant — an additive that helps keep the oil from degrading too quickly — is left in the fluid. RULER is sold worldwide, with steam, gas and wind power plants being the largest market.
Retirement is anything but restful for David Pfriem ’66, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
The 73-year-old is putting his English degree to use as he finishes his second memoir and is in the early stages of writing a novel.
“I’ve met so many interesting people over the years, I’m going to try to weave them into a story,” he said. “The most important thing, though, is to have fun, and I’m having fun.”
That fun includes visiting with grandchildren, volunteering as a docent and working part time at a condo complex. For Pfriem, staying active is crucial: He equates staying busy with staying vibrant.
“I’ve seen people retire and waste away,” he said. “You need to keep going until you can’t, or you really won’t enjoy life.”
Pfriem’s nontraditional retirement follows a pattern, as he was also a nontraditional college student, making his vows as a Marianist brother a year prior to enrolling at the University of Dayton in 1962.
Dorm living and campus life were not the norm as he lived in community at Mount Saint John and commuted. He chronicled his life as a Marianist in his first memoir, Uncommon Bonds, published in 2009, a work he said “could prove to be an amusing read” for current students and alumni alike.
He left the order in 1967 — after teaching for a year at Cincinnati’s Purcell High School — and while it was an incredibly tough decision,
he said he has no regrets.
From teaching and curriculum development to his work in the field of developmental disabilities, one thing has been a constant: the impact of the University of Dayton.
“Developing an intellectual curiosity and understanding intellectual freedom — I can’t say enough about my Marianist education,” Pfriem said.
Alumnus Elverage Allen says his professional career is a perfect case study for good mentoring and adaptability.
It’s the reason his friends tell him he has more lives than the proverbial cat with nine.
From being a star high school and UD football player to being a high school athletic coach, rental property manager, banker and finally landing in his niche of marketing, Allen says his twisted career path has taught him the power of perseverance.
It’s paid off. He recently received the Advertising Sales Executive Award from The Diversity Discussion — a high honor in advertising and sales.
But, he says he would never have reached this point had it not been for good mentorship.
“I didn’t see myself doing this,” he said. “In high school, there was no course ahead of me. I didn’t really know who to ask for help. I thought I wanted to be a school teacher. I didn’t know my talents were in other places.”
So, he went from job to job.
That changed when Allen became an operations manager at The First National Bank of Chicago. He says his supervisor taught him about corporate America, how to dress, talk, carry himself and helped him to “lay out the next stages of my career,” which included earning his MBA from the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University.
Allen has been an executive in marketing and sales in media programming for nearly 20 years.
With all of his success, Allen admits life was not always a series of wins.
“It’s easy to handle success,” he said. “Anyone can do it. But a person that can handle failure successfully really has the power to do anything.”
He’s also learned that success is more than an award, salary or recognition.
“Whether at work or in your personal life, always strive to be the best person you can be. Work hard, be considerate of others and be spiritually grounded. If you do these things, you will always be successful,” he said.
“Social media takes over our lives,” said visual arts professor Jeffrey Courtland Jones. “We can spend more time on it than we do talking to each other.”
He recalled one day he and his wife were sitting on a couch at home, each working on a laptop. “And,” he said, “we texted each other rather than talk.”
People using social media also, he said, “tend to collect ‘friends’ much like my 10-year-old son collects Pokémon cards. We have some ‘friends’ we never interact with, whom we really don’t know.” He noted he would see an artist’s work and “friend” him. Among his friends, the number who really weren’t friends grew.
In 2014, Jones decided that “I wanted to know the people who came across my screen daily.” He did that through a project he called Fiction (With Only Daylight Between Us) which featured 50 artists from around the world. The words in the project’s title are abridged song lyrics from the band The xx.
“Conceptually,” Jones said, “it is about ‘imaginary’ friendships that exist on social media (“Fiction”) and the physical distance of each participant (“With Only Daylight Between Us”).
The exhibit, shown locally and online, was, Jones said, “experimental and super cheap. It was also a lot of fun.”
So he decided to do it on a larger scale; the result was Fiction (With Only Daylight Between Us . v2). He asked 200 of his Facebook friends to send him something. That something was simply an 8.5-by-11-inch black-and-white JPG or PDF, he said, “of anything they wished that had some sort of relationship to their artmaking practice. I told them it could be an image of their current work, a scan of a page out of their sketchbook, or even a receipt from Starbucks, where they stopped to get coffee on the way to the studio.”
All 200 he asked said yes. Responses came from 16 countries.
Besides Jones, artists in the show with UD connections include full-time faculty members (R. Darden Bradshaw, Julie Jones, Kyle Phelps and Joel Whitaker), adjunct faculty (Nicholaus Arnold and Ashley Jonas), staff members (Michael Conlan and Geno Luketic), a student (Alexandra Morrissette ’17) and alumni (Maxwell Feldmann ’15, Rachel Hellman ’99, Courtney Hoelscher ’16, Amy Sacksteder ’01 and Seth Wade ’15).
How the images are displayed has varied from gallery to gallery. One arranged all the images in one large rectangle; each day, however, a different single image was moved to the opposite wall. The exhibition has been seen so far in five cities in the United States as well as cities in England, Germany and Australia. It will travel later this year to Brooklyn, New York.
Of the artists in the show who were friends-but-not-really-friends, Jones said, “Now I’ve become real friends with them and have collaborated with some; I’m currently doing projects with people in Australia and Germany.”No Comments
When Mark Iacofano ’84 was a kid, he dreamed about playing major league baseball. He lettered his junior and senior year on UD’s varsity baseball team but lacked a few of the key skills that he would need to make it in the majors.
“I couldn’t hit, and I couldn’t run,” Iacofano said. “But I was determined to at least have a career in the sports industry.”
He moved behind the scenes, so to speak, and worked his way up from directing and producing small college football games to iconic games like Michigan’s The Big Chill, the Frozen Diamond Face-off, gold medal Olympic hockey games, and countless professional and college hockey, baseball, basketball and football games.
“I want to make sports shows great for the people who can’t be in the arena or stadium,” said Iacofano, who expertly stitches together camera shots, graphics, replays, promotions and player storylines to create a seamless experience for the fan sitting on the couch at home.
“I never want to disturb the flow of the game,” Iacofano said. There are pre- and post -game shows too that often last late into the night. Iacofano stays until the bitter end.
An MLB game, for example, involves upwards of 30 people who all take their cues from Iacofano, a 20-time Emmy award winner. Golden statues aside, producing and directing a February 2017 basketball game between Dayton and St. Joseph’s from UD Arena was “a surreal experience I won’t soon forget,” said Iacofano.
The self-described Flyer Fanatic hadn’t been back to the Arena in 33 years but, Iacofano said, it was worth the wait. Especially when Tony Caruso, UD’s equipment manager and Iacofano’s former baseball coach, gave him a personal courtside tour during warm-ups. A consummate professional, Iacofano stayed impartial during the game but admits to celebrating later.
For a guy whose career revolves around watching sports, “it was definitely a bucket list moment for me,” he said.