AU People

AU People Ashley Johnson and Dan Ohart, both ’08 graduates of AU with degrees in mechanical engineering, put Ashley’s senior design project to a rigorous test: 4,597 miles across 10 states in 75 days last summer. Ashley, who received the top award in the Undergraduate Research Forum, designed and built two lightweight bicycle trailers that the two took across country. “We wanted to see the country slowly enough to appreciate it,” said Johnson. And appreciate it they did: “We encountered may interesting and helpful individuals, spotted tons of wildlife and dealt with crazy motorists, dangerous weather and a diet of peanut butter!” They began their journey in Yorktown, VA, and ended in Astoria, OR, and the trailers lasted the entire trip, said Johnson. Overall, the trailers “performed very well. The trailers held all our gear (and then some!), kept everything dry, and tracked directly behind the bicycles’ rear wheels. We met many other bicycle tourists who were also pulling trailers. None of them could believe how light our trailers were in comparison to theirs.” Johnson said hauling the trailers did affect their physical performance, but they averaged a respectable 10.83 miles per hour and 62.65 miles per day. “We encountered road conditions much worse than I had anticipated, but the trailers made it coast-to-coast,” said Johnson. “Of course, there will be future design changes. That’s what engineers do….design, and redesign.” A weld cracked on each of the trailers during the trip, she said. Although they were able to repair them and continue, she did learn there is one area of the trailer that needs to be redesigned. “I already have a few ideas,” she admitted. Johnson, who is now working as a mechanical engineer at Lockheed Martin System Integration is Owego, NY, said her design project “helped me gain the practical skills necessary to complete ‘real-world’ engineering tasks. My design project not only focused on enhancing my technical skills, but also helped me develop strong communication skills, which are essential to a successful engineering career. It was very rewarding to manage a project of my choice from state to completion.” AU provides “a very high-quality education to each and every student,” Johnson said. “Students at Alfred are exactly that – students – not numbers. We were taught by real professors in small classes,” and one-on-one help was always available. But, as Johnson also noted, “Education is not just about academic classes. At Alfred University you have the chance to participate in sports, clubs, and tons of organizations while still excelling in the classroom. There is a real sense of community at Alfred, which gives you the opportunity to develop not only as a student, but as a person. It’s the total package, and a lot of fun.” Johnson is particularly appreciative of what she gained from Dr. Joe Rosiczkowski, professor of mechanical engineering. “He does a lot for the students, not only by being a professor, faculty advisor and senior design advisor, but by organizing and encouraging student participation in various engineering-related clubs and activities.” And, she added, “No senior design project would be completed without access to our very own Student Engineering Project (STEP) Lab,” something she also credits to “Dr. Joe.”