Oct 292012
Engineering student Lauren Bridgers uses a volumetric bench to measure flow rates, and she is shown recording the data from the tests. Bridgers taught elementary school before embarking on a new path by studying in the Department of Engineering at ECU.(Jay Clark/ECU News Services)
Engineering student Lauren Bridgers

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Everywhere Gordon Beverly III goes, he sees things that could be improved through engineering: the unorganized flow of checkout lines at some fast food restaurants or buses taking numerous left turns when right turns are more efficient.

That is part of the reason Beverly, 27, returned to East Carolina University this fall to begin pursuing a bachelor’s degree from the Department of Engineering. He already holds degrees in mathematics and mathematics secondary education from the university, and left a teaching job at D.H. Conley High School to come back to school.

Beverly is one of a handful of students studying engineering at ECU after first earning other degrees or embarking on unrelated careers. Hayden Griffin, chair of the Department of Engineering, noticed the trend this fall.

“I think the national attention to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and STEM careers has a lot to do with it,” Griffin said. “There was a piece on the local TV news recently about how engineering salaries are high and there are plenty of jobs.

“One other attraction may be that the second-degree students I know all live around here, so proximity and our willingness to work with them, to allow the credits from their previous degree to count toward their engineering degree, are probably factors.”

That was the case for Lauren Bridgers, an alumna of Colorado State University who moved to North Carolina with her husband in 2007. After three years teaching second and third grade, Bridgers realized the career path she had chosen was not for her after all.

“While I loved teaching … I felt like that was 10 percent of my job and the rest was paperwork, counseling and working with parents,” she said.

“I’m passionate about the environment and the root cause of a lot of environmental problems are machines. I want to use engineering to save the world.”

Bridgers, also 27, said she considered attending N.C. State University, but chose ECU because “it’s a smaller program so I knew I would get more of a personalized education.”

She is scheduled to graduate this May.

Not all second-degree students are former teachers. The department includes a student with a bachelor’s degree in music, and recent graduates entered the program with prior degrees ranging from accounting to athletic training.

Barbara Sage, 24, graduated from ECU in May 2010 with a degree in exercise physiology. Originally planning to continue her education in a physical therapy program, she was disappointed by the job she saw in field observations her junior and senior years.

“Everybody has a niche and that just wasn’t mine,” Sage said.

She considered medical school and started a graduate degree in biology before bailing out and starting over — again — in biomedical engineering. It proved a good fit.

“Engineering is a lifelong learning degree,” Sage said. “I’m really excited about working in industry.”

Second-degree students are excelling in the program, Griffin said, and often outpace traditional undergraduates. The students agree that it has a lot to do with maturity.

“If I’d gone into engineering right away, I wouldn’t have stuck with it,” Bridgers said. “It’s a lot of work for a first-time college student. If I have one day not doing homework, it’s amazing.”

“People who have already (completed) a degree know how to study, know what helps them learn,” Sage said.

“When I know I’m going back to school and (know) what I’m going to get out of it,” Beverly said, “the motivation is already there.”

More information about ECU’s Department of Engineering is available online at www.ecu.edu/engineering.


Former Disney exec to speak at ECU

Lee Cockerell, former executive vice president of operations for the Walt Disney World Resort, will speak at 3:30 p.m. on Monday in Wright Auditorium as part of the Cunanan Leadership Speaker Series hosted by the College of Business.

The public is invited to attend this free event.

As the senior operating executive for 10 years, Cockerell led a team of 40,000 employees and was responsible for the operations of 20 resort hotels, four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping and entertainment village, and a sports and recreation complex — in addition to the ancillary operations that supported the number one vacation destination in the world.

Cockerell also held various executive positions in the hospitality and entertainment business, spending eight years with Hilton Hotels and 17 years with the Marriott Corporation before joining Disney in 1990 to open the Disneyland Paris project.

He retired in 2006 and authored a book on leadership, management, and service excellence. The title of his presentation is “Lessons in Leadership…YOU Too Can Create Disney Magic.”

For more information, contact the College of Business Professional Programs, cobprofpro@ecu.edu or 328-6377.

Upcoming events

  • Thursday: The History, Legacy and Celebration of Desegregation in Higher Education: A keynote address from Justice Henry E. Frye and panel discussion kicks off a series of events marking the 50th anniversary of desegregation at ECU; 7-8:30 p.m., Hendrix Theatre. A reception will follow in Cynthia’s Lounge, Mendenhall Student Center. Free and open to the public.
  • Friday: Wild Kingdom Starring Peter Gros: Part of the Family Fare series, Gros — the former co-host of “Wild Kingdom” now featured in a new series on Animal Planet — will introduce friendly exotic animals to audience members and tell inspirational stories about conservation, travel, and wildlife filming. The event is 7-8:30 p.m. in Wright Auditorium. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 students/youth. Call 1-800-ECU-ARTS or visit www.ecu.edu/familyfare.
  • Friday: First Lt. Nathan Rimpf Benefit Art Exhibition: ECU English faculty member and woodworker Andy Bates will donate the proceeds from a sale of his works to First Lt. Nathan Rimpf’s Support Fund. Rimpf is an ECU graduate who was injured in Afghanistan this summer. The event is 6-9 p.m. at Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge, 404 S. Evans Street. The reception is open to the public.
  • Friday: Eighth annual Pediatric Healthy Weight Summit: “Movement Matters: Physical Activity for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity and Its Co-Morbidities,” will feature Shellie Pfohl, executive director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. The event is from 7:45 a.m to 4:30 p.m. at East Carolina Heart Institute, 115 Heart Drive. For more information or to register, call 744-5061 or email crawfordy@ecu.edu.

via The Daily Reflector.


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