OUS Snags Cash For New Engineering Building (+Blog status update)

Dear reader,

We apologize for the inactivity. Our GetReal staff is hard at work creating special K–12 lesson plans for teachers in Oregon to use. These special lesson plans integrate engineering into regular science lessons, giving young students a chance to learn more about engineering from a younger age. It’s a very exciting project, and we’re giving it our all—as a result, we’ve put the blog on the back burner for a bit. Keep checking for updates!


Enrollment at OSU has risen by over 30% in the last few years, and the College of Engineering is running out of space. In order to address this issue, they plan on constructing a new engineering building that will cost $40,000,000. Forty million bucks.

That’s a lot, even for a university. To help with it, several folks have donated some pretty hefty lumps of cash to help pay for it—and many chose to remain anonymous:

  • $10 million from one anonymous donor.
  • $7 million from OSU engineering graduate Peter Johnson, who now owns a huge company called Tekmax, Inc.
  • $3 million from other anonymous donors.

Oh, and the kicker: the state of Oregon may be matching these donations. If they do, OSU will already have enough money to cover the new building.

The College of Engineering hasn’t named the building yet, but plans on using it to host inter-disciplinary students studying chemical, biological and environmental engineering. The students will work together with faculty to tackle global issues that affect human health, energy, and the environment.

If you’re looking to study engineering—especially if you care about the environment, energy, or human health—this new building means OSU will be even better-prepared to give you a great engineering education.

Read on:

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Meet an OSU grad who gets to work on one of the coolest telescopes ever.

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elcome back from the break, and we hope everyone is enjoying their winter term of school!

Today, we wanted to give you a great example of an Oregon college graduate who went on to do awesome things—the kinds of awesome things we talk about right here on Get Real!

Michael Thorburn graduated from Oregon State University some time ago, with a degree in mathematics. After that, he got a Ph.D. in electrical engineering.

From there he went on to do a whole slew of awesome stuff, including being named the head of the Department of Engineering for ALMA.

What’s ALMA? It’s what happens when scientists and engineers work together to make a super-telescope, with the power of its 66 combined individual telescopes. We mentioned it a while back. Also, check out this video that ALMA released.

Here's an image ALMA produced—this is what radio telescopes are capable of! Image by European Southern Observatory (ESO).

Here's about what the ALMA radio telescopes look like—these ones are the prototypes, gazing into the heavens. Image by ESO.

It stands for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, because it’s a radio telescope which scans in the millimeter frequencies. As an awesome side-note, ALMA is Spanish for “soul.”

We’ve also talked about the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) which is a lot like ALMA. The differences are these: ALMA is much nearer completion (scheduled to be done in March, as opposed to SKA, whose construction begins in 2016); and SKA is going to be a bit bigger, since it’s newer.

Here's what the completed ALMA will look like. Image by ESO.

Why should you care about radio telescopes? Because you can look back in time—Because only travels so fast, the further away from Earth you can look, the older the stuff you see actually is.

“We can look at stars 13.5 billion light years away,” Thorburn said. “The Big Bang is said to have happened 13.7 billion years ago.”

Awesome engineering.

Read on:

OSU’s own Aerospace Club launches

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regon State University has recently launched another great engineering club, giving you one more reason to study there when you go to college. Students Brandon Thoennes and Michael Roos, both of whom are engineering students, got the club off the ground this year with the help of a few faculty advisers—but as a “sponsored student organization” they’re in charge of running it themselves.

This rocket is an example of what OSU's AIAA club will launch in future competitions. Image from Daily Barometer.

Brandon and Michael and the president and vice president, respectively. They make all the decisions for the OSU chapter of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics.

The club plans to build remote-controlled rockets and enter into competitions with other university AIAA clubs, just like OSU’s SAE club currently does.

Currently they’ve got over 20 members, and hope to grow fast. By the time you get to OSU, they may be huge. If rocket science interests you, watch October Sky and join this club when you get to college.

Read on:

Want to help people? Engineer in Kenya through OSU

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t GetReal we always push the idea that engineering is all about helping people. That robots and stuff are cool, but the real reason any of us become engineers is to make the world better in some way. To either “increase the awesome” of something (robots, for example) or to “decrease the suck” of something else.

The women and children of Lela have to walk to a nearby town to get their water, during the dry season. That cuts into time they have for school and work, things which would ultimately make the town more successful.

That last one has less to do with impressive robots and more to do with finding solutions to real, tough problems. Problems that Oregonians like us might not even have to think about. Like “how do we get clean water?” Oregon definitely doesn’t have to worry about water. Especially in the winter.

But Africa does. And that’s why Oregon State University is part of an awesome group called Engineers Without Borders. This program is all about helping decrease the suck in places that aren’t as easy to live in as Oregon–whatever the reason.

This year, an OSU student named Zachary Dunn is coordinating the trip to Kenya (to where they’re flying this month) to do the first “implementation trip” of the project.

The project itself have been active since 2008, but so far all of the trips have been tests and assessments; they weren’t installing anything until this year. Now, Zach and his team are going to Lela, Kenya to install a water well for the town of 2,000 people–who have in the past had to walk miles, every day, just to get drinking water to survive.

Having a big well like this will help the people of Lela be self-reliant during the dry season.

We think this is the epitome of engineering. This is what it’s all about. And we can’t recommend this program highly enough. If you think you might go to OSU to study engineering, email the president (or another officer) of OSU’s chapter of EWB and ask about it. You can also sign up for their mailing list.

Engineering projects like this are the reason a lot of people become engineers. If you have a strong desire to help, think about joining EWB at Oregon State University when you enroll to become an engineer.

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Learn nuclear kung-fu at OSU with a real reactor

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regon State University has had a nuclear reactor for quite some time—since 1967—and continues to improve it so students can use it as a real-life learning tool. If you take chemistry, geosciences, atmospheric sciences or just about any of the engineering schools OSU offers, you’re likely to come into contact with it at some point.

The OSU reactor looks kind of like a prison. That's to keep all the awesome in.

And the reactor shows no signs of powering down, either. Just recently, OSU got awarded $1.2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.  The money is divvied up like this:

  • $871,119 for experiments to enhance the safety and efficiency of small modular reactors.
  • $245,402 for laboratory and equipment upgrades.
  • $45,000 in scholarships for students seeking a nuclear-related degree.

Image of a reactor core at OSU. That blue glow comes from the Uranium Zirconium Hydride fuel, which is safe because it gets less conductive as it heats up (meaning meltdowns are basically impossible)

That last one means you can get a piece of the award for yourself, if you have an interest in nuclear science.

Nuclear power has gotten a lot of criticism lately for its dangers, thanks in part to the Fukushima disaster in Japan. But for the most part it’s quite safe if everything is handled properly. And that’s just fission, which is breaking heavy atoms apart.

Much safer and more promising is nuclear fusion, which is sticking light atoms together. Fusion is very possibly the future of nuclear energy, and so when you take nuclear engineering at OSU, you will learn a lot about both fusion and fission.

Read on:

Alexandria Moseley & Engineering Your Future.

Last month we briefly mentioned that an OSU student was named one of the 15 most promising engineers in the world. Today, we’re going to give you a more in-depth look into just who she is.

Alexandria loves documentaries like "How It's Made," and decided to be on the other side of those documentaries.

Alexandria Moseley is a 22-year-old Senior at OSU, majoring in industrial and manufacturing engineering. She’s from Newberg, your average city with an average population. Just 22,000 people—bigger than some cities but smaller than others. There’s nothing exceptional about where she comes from.

Yet somehow, she’s exceptional. Not a product of where she’s from, but also not an anomaly, she made her own future the same way any engineer makes a solution. Alexandria decided what she wanted and made a plan to get it.

In 2008 she landed an internship at A-dec, Inc., which makes dental equipment. Pretty cool for anyone who likes watching How It’s Made or reading How Stuff Works. It’s not the product itself but the process, right? Well to be honest, the product is pretty cool since dental equipment helps improve peoples’ lives. She said this about the internship: “It seems like a lot of common sense, but there’s a lot of science behind it.”

That would have been her Freshman year if she’s a senior in 2012. So after that she went on to become an ambassador for OSU’s College of Engineering. She’s been going to high schools for the past 3 years to show others how great engineering is.

She also joined the OSU chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME)—of which she is now the chair. How does she just climb the ranks like that?

Persistence. She reportedly spends about 10 hours a week on engineering stuff—specifically, College of Engineering activities—and that kind of persistence is bound to get some attention.

And yes, it did. That’s how she got to be named one of the 15 most promising engineers in the world. She was nominated by the SME Education Foundation—with which she’d been working, being chair of OSU’s chapter. Her persistence and hard work gave her merit, and she wound up making the cut!

Read On: