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Engineering: Alumni & Friends

E-Week Memories

In 2013, the UNL College of Engineering celebrates 100 years since the first official E-Week/Open House.

Through the years, the pride demonstrated by our community during E-Week has helped many students through the challenging experience of becoming an engineer. The display of engineering projects is also an important tradition for our college, and it has helped the Nebraska community better understand the importance of engineering in making our world a better place.

For this centennial, we asked Nebraska Engineering alumni to share their memories of E-Week/Open House. We’re enjoying these recollections and are glad E-Week/Open House continues to be a meaningful moment in the careers of Nebraska Engineers!

Gene Kocmich

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, 1971
Hampton, VA
Sr. Systems Engineer
Northrop Grumman, Newport News, VA

I was surprised at how many people attended and their interest. I didn't attend the follow-on meeting and initially didn't believe classmates when they told me I had received recognition for the outstanding display. It is one of two college year awards I received and I still proudly display it on a wall.

M.P. Papadakis

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, 1963
Bastrop, TX
Law school professor, STCL
Houston, TX

I built a fighter cockpit mock up with instrument designs different from the then SOTA 6 instrument standard configuration . I was an NROTC scholarship person with orders to flight school at NAS Pensacola. My display got very significant attention by the viewers.

In Fifty years since graduation I accumulated 25,000 flight hours, Navy Carrier, Navy R and D test. Delta airlines Captain retired 727,737,757,767 and L 1011 captain. I went to law school and flew every weekend and Holiday so as to be a lawyer and Law professor in the work week. I have investigated, evaluated or helped litigate 450 airplane accidents. At Nebraska I majored in "Parties, Banquets and Balls" with a minor in ME. I got serious at the carrier where a mistake was not simply red mark on a piece of paper (I got those at NU).

Steve Davis

B.S. in Electrical Engineering, 1965
Plymouth, MA
Director-Systems Engineering, Hewlett-Packard, Nashua, NH

I searched my files for E-Week memories and found the 1964 E-Week booklet. I have scanned a few pages from it to email.

I retired from Hewlett-Packard in 2005 and relocated from New Hampshire to Plymouth, MA.

David K. Hemsath

B.S. in Computer Engineering, 1979
Round Rock, TX
Security & Privacy Architect/Consultant
IBM Corp., Austin, TX

1) Visiting the Engineering College during E-Week my senior year of high school (Omaha North, class of 1972).

2) Participating in one E-Week while a student, showing some primitive text games on the University's old NUROS time-sharing system, and putting together a poster session using the old Calcomp pen plotter and FORTRAN programming to graph artillery shell trajectories using an empirical formula I found in an old engineering text at the Nebraska Hall library. I remember an old IBM 1620 "scientific computer" running another demonstration, with all its doors open for cooling circulation.

Howard Smith

Mechanical Engineering, 1965
Northville, MI
Engineer - Retired
Ford Motor Co.

In 1962 or 63 for an E-Week project, I made an auto simulator to demonstrate reaction times in applying the brake. Recording the time from accelerator to brake pedal and showing distance traveled at various vehicle speeds. After graduating and serving 4-years in USAF, I went to work at Ford Motor Co, completing 35-years in automotive engineering. I retired in 2004 as technical specialist in vehicle thermal management.

Roland Nyquist

B.S. in Chemical Engineering, 1943
Kearney, NE
Retired for 30 years

As I recall we scared a poor white duck as it calmly swam in a small tub of water by dropping in a few drops of a surfactant and immediately causing it to sink. After several runs I recall we thought the poor duck had had enough as the feathers had absorbed enough of the surfactant that it could no longer swim.

From my year of graduation you may note that our country was at war. Those of us who got to get our degrees had obtained educa- tional deferments. Several of our classmates were in advanced ROTC and some were called into active duty. I obtained a job with Shell Research & Development in Emeryville, Calif., and spent a year there before enlisting in the Navy as an Officer in training. After two years I was released to inactive duty and returned to Shell as a Process Engineer at their Oil Refinery in Wood River, Ill.

Sherrill North

B.S. in Chemical Engineering, 1969
Grand Rapids, MI
Reichhold Chemicals, Sterling Forest, NY (E.I. duPont Deepwater, NJ)

Our experiment was quite simple. We had been experimenting with freeze drying foods in a small dryer which we had displayed on a table. Because of the time involved in this process we did something which was quick and people could see instant results. We dipped hot dogs in liquid nitrogen, pulled then out, held them up, and then hit them against the table which broke them into several pieces. People stood and stared rather dumb founded at what liquid nitrogen can do. Of course, we warned them to keep their fingers out of it. The last project I worked on in engineering was an orthopedic cast wetted out with urethane polymer. In 1975 I demonstrated it to 40 orthopedic surgeons in Manhattan, NY.

They sat with their arms crossed as I wrapped the cast around the arm of the marketing manager charged with trying to sell it to doctors, etc. When I left I thought to myself "this project is going no where". But much to my surprise, in 1986 I walked into a hospital room to visit a friend who had fallen on the snow in his backyard. There he was, leg in traction elevated in the air, wearing one of our plastic casts. Today you see them everywhere even in multiple colors. I have even had the honor of wearing one myself when I broke a small bone in my wrist. You never know the future of your projects no matter how ridulous and impossible they may seem.

Shaz Zeb Khan

B.S. in Computer Engineering, 2003
Omaha, NE
President & CEO, Omaha/GEM Group International

My name is Shaz Khan. I graduated from 2003 with my major in Computer & Electronics Engineering and minor in Mathematics. I worked in a team of 3 under the supervision of Dr. Hamid Sharif. Our project was complex and pretty geeky now that I think of it - we designed and engineered a fully functional prototype of a GPS Navigator that would display the location (using a digital needle) for Khana-e-Kaaba (holy mosque of Makkah where Muslims go for pilgrimage (Hajj). I had some bright friends on my team: Waleed Basheer and Nabil Benaichour.

I never got into robotics or chip design/coding - but the discipline and camaraderie learned from working together in that project has always been a positive reflection of my professional life today. As an advice to current CENG students, I would definitely encourage them to keep their photos, as these memories can never be re-lived again.

My senior year, when we took this project on - we literally lived on campus. I still remember that little room we had next to our Engineering lab - that semester, I only recall working on the project, taking shower at Hyper, eating at Student Center, and then sleeping in that room to wake up the next day to do the same thing.

James Lofton

M.S. in Civil Engineering, 1971
Cassville, Missouri
Engineer - Retired
Allgeier, Martin & Assoc. Inc., Joplin, MO

The first year I attended NU (1964-5), all the E-Week displays were set up in a medium-size classroom. The CE display I helped with wasn't much...just a display showing all the text books used to attain an engineering degree. The thing I do remember is a group of EE's had a display which used flashlights to transmit voice communication across the room...another group was showing how glass fibers could bend/transmit light.

The implication was... if the fibers coud be 'pure' enough, they could replace copper phone lines, using visible light, i.e. the flashlighe beams. Way over in an obscure corner a couple of students had a crude laser pointing out a window to show how a beam could project a "good distance" (around 200', I think). As a tounge-in-cheek comment, I pointed out if the laser could be traned into the fibers and project the voice-signals demonstrated by the flashlights, it could completely change the way phones work. A room full of nay-sayers voiced all kinds of reasons that would not work...IF WE ONLY KNEW!

Arvel White

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, 1957, M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, 1959
Rolling Hills, CA

TRW Space and Defense 1993 Fluid Mechanics Lab TRW Running the Liquid Air Machine demonstration, supporting Steam Engine project, foundry . . . I had a lot of good professors:John Michael Frank Vickers, Keith Newhouse, Ludwickson, Loeb, Dean O.J. Ferguson. Two Math Professors: Don Miller, Prof Bascco Student Friends: Fran Ostdiek, Marvin Goodding, more Elected to Pi Tau Sigma, Mech. E. Honors, '56; Alpha Tau Honor Society, Sigma Xi Honor Society '59. Winner O.J. Ferguson Outstanding Senior '57 Earned PhD in Aeronautics, Caltech, Pasadena, CA Summers: Engineering Ass't for the O Street Viaduct 1954 "Ode to the Viaduct" Journal Star article in about 2004.

Thomas Johnson

B.S in Electrical Engineering, 1971
Fullerton, CA
Electrical Wholesaler, Long Beach CA

I was EE Co-chair for E-week 1971. My co-chair and I were wearing suits and ties(that was the engineering uniform back in the day) and were out on campus trying to sell "E-week Buttons". I came up with the idea of presenting one to Governor Exon. We walked down the mall to the State Capitol, walked in, found the Governor's office and asked if we could present him with an E-Week button from the University. He was very receptive, ushered us into his office. My co-chair pinned the button on his suit and he allowed us to take a few pictures. He spent about 15 minutes with us listening to our description of E-Week.

Donna Lounsbury

B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering, 2009
Salt Lake City, UT
Solution Architect, Cerner Corporation

E-Week represented the end of a year long senior design project with three of my fellow BSE's, Mike Bierle, Harrison Hoffman, and Violetta Balayan. It was a great time to celebrate and present on what we had accomplished and contemplate our next steps in our careers and lives. Getting to E-Week was stressful at times, but it felt like a reward by the end of our senior year.

David Kroon

B.S. in Chemical Engineering, 1970
Spring, TX
Portfolio Manager, Houston, TX
Allgeier, Martin & Assoc. Inc., Joplin, MO

My most vivid memories of E-Week were when I was a child/student living in Seward. My father would take my 2 brothers and I to the Thursday open house during E-Week and we would tour the buildings. I believe all the buildings are now used for something besides engineering. I always liked the water running in some apparatus in Richards Hall, breaking concrete in Bancroft Hall, and making plastic tees in Avery Hall. These trips eventually resulted in all 3 boys in my family later graduating from the UNL Engineering College. E-Week was very influential in my life well before the beginning of my college eduation.

During college I had 2 E-Week projects that we all independent from any class credit. In my junior year we tried to brew something similar to beer and in my senior year we demonstrated reverse osmosis for filtering water. We took and blue liquid and used pressure to force the water through a membrane taken from a labratory mouse to produce clear water. I hope the process works better now. In the 1960 and it is probably still true, the Chem. Engr. department was quite small so we ususally competed very poorly in the athletic competition within the college. We considered us thinker, not athletes. E-Week was a great experience for myself and my brothers and family.