Rose-Hulman Success = Real-World Success
Rose-Hulman alumni can be found leading organizations, working with the latest technology and engineering solutions to problems all around the world. Here are a few stories from our successful alumni.
2012 Mechanical Engineering
Phil Rodenbeck arrived on campus from Valparaiso, Indiana in 2006 and remained to earn bachelor's (2010) and master's (2012) degrees in mechanical engineering. Along the way he also completed an internship and co-op at the Toyota Technical Center, where he invented three now-patented technologies: a magneto-rheological elastomer wheel assembly with dynamic tire pressure control, a magneto-rheological coil spring and a dynamic shock absorber.
His Rodenbeck Project Tower, developed with assistance from Engineering Management Associate Professor Terry Schumacher, Ph.D., provides a 3D graphical tool that represents project tasks in a style that's currently unavailable through PERT or Gantt tools.
And, finally, he turned an undergraduate capstone design project into an ingenious graduate initiative that earned this year's Outstanding Graduate Thesis Award. His design of a cost-effective semi-active damper, completed under the guidance of Vice President for Academic Affairs Phillip Cornwell, Ph.D., has caught the attention of the automotive industry.
"Phil was a fantastic student," says Cornwell. "I use the term 'advise' very loosely in relating my assistance with his master's thesis project, because he was extremely self-motivated and needed very little advice. He is incredibly creative and hardworking."
Rodenbeck's engineering talents are now being used at Parametric Solutions Inc. in Jupiter, Florida. He continues to write poetry in his spare time.
Ejimofor (EJ) Oruche,
2011 Biomedical Engineering
Ejimofor (EJ) Oruche’s experience at Rose-Hulman and as a Governor Bob Orr Indiana Entrepreneurial Fellow has given him the tools to make an impact and move positively toward the future.
At Rose-Hulman, Oruche was part of the team that specially designed a prosthetic arm for 6-year-old Michael who was born with condition known as bilateral radial and ulnar hypoplasia, leaving him with no forearms and only two tiny fingers on each hand. The students' project (supervised by professors Kay C Dee, Glen Livesay and Renee Rogge) created a prosthetic limb that works with Michael’s fully functional fingers, extending his reach and allowing him greater independence—while being fun and simple to operate.
"This is the culmination of what we went to school for," says Oruche, whose team was recognized in 2011 by Siemens for their project.
Now, as an Orr Fellow, Oruche is completing a paid position with Apparatus, an Indianapolis-based IT consulting and managed service firm. He is part of an operational team, consulting with companies and involved with building a portal for clients. He also has been working on efficiency metrics.
“The fellowship has provided me with a lot of business and start-up knowledge,” Oruche says. “We are able to hear from so many successful people and gain insights they have gathered over the years. Also, working in a fast-paced company forces you to make smart decisions faster, and know when to drop something if it’s not working.”
Rose-Hulman prepared him well. “Everything I have done in the fellowship thus far, I had no experience with, but having that great learning skill made it a lot easier to pick it up,” he says.
2005 Chemical Engineering
Heidi Park's path to realizing a dream of becoming a high school teacher took a road less traveled. She's pursuing a teaching degree as a Knowles Science Teaching Fellow, and may soon become a science teacher in the Chicago Public Schools. This came after she earned a bachelor's degree chemical engineering in 2005 from Rose-Hulman and a master's degree from Cornell University.
The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF) has invested $175,000 over five years to encourage Park and 33 others in this complex and challenging profession. She is currently a student teacher in the Chicago Public Schools and plans to earn her teaching credentials next spring from the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Park joins graduates of Harvard and Stanford who have left fledgling careers on Wall Street and academic research to make an impact in America's classrooms. Knowles Science Teaching Fellows ensure that high-caliber beginning teachers remain in the profession.
A part of that process is learning how to teach the material she knows. "If I just took my degrees in chemical engineering into the classroom, I don't believe I would be able to teach the students," she says. "I need to learn about how students learn. Today, there is more of a shift to help students and guide them to find the answers and develop positions. They learn because they do, not from a lecture."
It’s been an interesting career track for Felda Hardymon, a venture capitalist and Harvard Business School professor.
He first began working in the venture capital arena in 1979 when the innovation economy was thriving. Now, 30-plus years later, he sees innovation once again a dominant industry.
Hardymon is a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, a global venture firm with $4 billion under management. In late 2012, the firm supported 140 innovative companies "and at least 120 are short on people and having trouble hiring," he says.
Among the biggest developments fueling today's innovation economy is what Hardymon calls "big data"—the emerging technology required to effectively store the huge volumes of electronic data being produced these days. Small, entrepreneurial companies are discovering and commercializing solutions to these kinds of challenges, and they're creating lots of jobs in the process, Hardymon says.
Hardymon wanted an academic career after graduating from Rose-Hulman. He earned master's and doctoral degrees at Duke University, and later added a Harvard MBA. He began his venture capital career in 1979 with General Electric. He joined Bessemer in 1981 where he invested in a wide range of young companies in software, communications, and retailing—from American Superconductor to Wavesmith.
In 1998, Hardymon returned to teaching at Harvard, but continued in his venture capital career, as well. He has since developed venture capital curriculum and has his name on several academic books.
Hardymon now enjoys the best of both worlds—teaching future innovators and involved directly with the innovation economy.
"Every day, I'm meeting people who are creating the future," he says.
Erica (Snyder) Buxton
2002 Chemical Engineering
"What's more fun than working with toys?"
Working in the toy industry wasn’t among Erica (Snyder) Buxton’s post graduation career considerations. But today she is director of corporate strategic planning at Mattel.
After about three years working in the healthcare business as a development engineer, she wanted to be more involved in the overall business and decision making in a company. She, and her husband, Rob Buxton, a 2001 mechanical engineering graduate, earned MBAs from Harvard Business School.
From there, Buxton worked as a consultant in Los Angeles where she got interested in the consumer space. That led to her job at Mattel.
Buxton oversees the toy giant's annual strategic planning process, working with key executives to create a strategic plan. "I work with leadership to figure out how we will continue to drive shareholder value for the company," she says. "You have a lot of people who want money for different things. We have to figure out how to fund investments and prioritize them."