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Engineering Technology and Management student wins Warner Award for undergraduate research

Published: October 14, 2021 Author: Staff reports

Reed Mechley, BSETM ’21, recently graduated from Ohio University, but he did not graduate without making his mark on undergraduate research.

After working in Dr. Yuqiu You’s lab, Mechley was able to collaborate on a research project which culminated in his win of the Epsilon Pi Tau Warner Award for Undergraduate Student Research in 2021.

During his senior year, Mechley was invited to join You’s research lab focusing on electrohydraulics. Their project of interest aimed to establish and optimize a remote automatic position control system using equipment from industry partner Parker Hannifin. Together they created a motion system driven by a hydraulic valve that could be controlled remotely from any computer.

Mechley’s lab experience has led to a chain reaction of successes including winning the Warner Award. The Warner Award is granted to a student who demonstrates excellence in undergraduate research and in 2021, Mechley was the only student to win the nationally competitive award. In addition to this award, he also presented the project paper in the National Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering 2020 annual conference and in the American Society of Engineering Education 2020 annual conference.

Mechley’s takeaway from his experience was not the award he won or the conference presentations, but rather the opportunity to gain invaluable experience, develop his communications skills, and work alongside his respected mentors and peers.

“I got a lot better at communicating on many different levels working alongside graduate students, Dr. You, and Dr. Curtis Cohenour by communicating what needed to be completed or changed,” Mechley said. “If something was wrong or I had a question, I had to learn to communicate to adjust things as they came up.”

You said proper communication was of the utmost importance because the pandemic altered the day-to day processes in the lab, but Mechley did not let those changes hinder his success. While classes were mostly remote in 2020, Mechley received special permission to conduct his research on this project under the condition that he work by himself in the lab. It was during this time that he helped to build hydraulic circuits, configure and program the control system, and troubleshoot emerging problems while working with cutting-edge technology.

You said Mechley’s experience defines a typical Russ College undergraduate education. You explained that these types of immersive hands-on projects simply do not exist in the classroom environment, and Mechley’s experience in the lab prepared him to enter the workforce.

Today, Mechley works for a small robotics company in Erlanger, Kentucky, called AHS. He is the first engineer trainee in a training pilot program, which allows him to discover each type of engineering at the company. He hopes to continue at AHS as a project manager after his training period concludes.

Mechley loves working in project management, an interest and skill he honed while in the Engineering Technology and Management program.

“I like being in the level of management that is in the action — being hands-on and doing what everyone else is doing, working with people, going through challenges of organization, leading, and getting the best out of people. You get to whatever problem you are trying to solve,” said Mechley.  

Even though Mechley has graduated, You continues to enrich the classroom experience at the Russ College with hands-on learning opportunities. She hopes to bring real, industry-level technology to Russ classrooms through her laboratory. For Mechley, experiential learning and invaluable mentorship were both rooted in his experience in You’s lab, and they continue to impact his perspective as a working engineer in the industry.