Fall-Winter 2014 Alumni Updates

  • Photo of Conrad Vogel

    Alumni updates

Nebraska Engineering alumni share their professional experiences.
Editor’s note: After submitting class notes updates online, Conrad Vogel and Claire Zhao were asked if they would provide more details (and photos) concerning their experiences at UNL and after. Below are their responses.

CONRAD VOGEL

Principal Mechanical Engineer

Large Binocular Telescope Observatory

Tucson, Arizona

Degrees from UNL: B.S. in mechanical engineering, 1995; M.S. in mechanical engineering, 2005.

At UNL, I took as many classes and electives as I could fit into my schedule. I even minored in a foreign language at a time when the college didn’t recognize minors. While not a stellar student, I worked hard and tried to become thoroughly involved in the courses that I took and always asked questions in class and office hours.

When I secured my first engineering job after graduation, I think it helped that my transcript showed classes that were not strictly included in the curriculum for an engineering major. Perhaps it suggested to my future employers that I was “well-rounded”. I remain convinced that it was the little things on my resume and transcript that helped in this regard.

The education that I received from UNL has opened many doors for me. The range of opportunities available at UNL is quite broad. From the engineering co-op program to studying abroad through the program with affiliated universities overseas (I spent a year at Aberdeen University in Scotland), it’s remarkable what UNL has to offer to those interested in taking advantage of it.

I am currently employed as a Principal Mechanical Engineer at the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory on Mount Graham in Arizona. It is one of the largest telescopes in the world. The scale of engineering is staggering in many ways. The structure alone, built at 10,500 feet above sea level on a remote mountain top, presented many engineering challenges. It is a tall building with doors that open to expose the mirrors to the sky. These doors make up much of one wall and the roof of the structure is mobile. The entire building rotates with the telescope on giant bogies and circular rails. Construction of the telescope itself, and the mirrors that make it work, was a substantial international undertaking. The mirrors were from Arizona, structure to hold them was from Italy, and the instrumentation came from Germany.

CLAIRE ZHAO

Senior Engineer

2H Offshore

Houston, Texas

Degree from UNL: B.S. in civil engineering, 2010

After I graduated in 2010, I went to Europe for a one-year master's degree program in Structural Analysis of Historic Monuments and Constructions.

I have been working at 2H Offshore, an offshore oil and gas engineering services company, for the past three years. My specialty is integrity management of offshore subsea systems. We support major oil and gas operators in managing the service life of subsea systems to improve reliability and minimize risk of failure. It's an exciting and constantly evolving field and I learn something new every day. Surprisingly, much of the knowledge I learned for the assessment of historic structures applies to subsea structures, too.