Summer has come once again to the plains. Indeed, it sometimes seems that this is the only time of year we have time to stand back and reassess our planning, goals and outcomes.
I'm pleased to report that freshman enrollment is predicted to be around 800 -- the largest ever. The average ACT score is also up, thanks in part to increased scholarship support at the college level and through the university Spirit of Auburn scholarship program -- we expect it to top 27.5. In 2005-2006 we attracted 10 national merit finalists; next year we expect that figure to be closer to 20.
The demographics of our undergraduate student body are also changing, with a growing number of students coming from out of state. This class also marks an increase in the number of women entering the college, bucking a nationwide trend.
The faculty and staff have worked hard over the past 10 years to get the word out about the good things that are going on at Auburn. If this year's incoming freshman class is any indication, it appears that our efforts have been noticed and are making a difference.
That is very good news indeed -- for our students and for the future of our state.
P.S. Thanks to all of you who have submitted Auburn engineering memories. I've enjoyed reading them and hope you will too. The winners of the latest engineering memories drawing are Michael Allison, '77, CE; James Thornburgh '57, ME; and Mike Swinson '85, ME.
What began as a favorite pastime has quickly become a successful and thriving business for AU mechanical engineering junior Kel Jackson. Birmingham native Jackson has had a longstanding interest in hobby-class, radio-controlled cars. At 16, he decided to transform his part-time passion into a full-time business. In 2004, he formed RCM RC Products, LLC to engineer precision aftermarket products that enhance the performance of these cars.
"They are not the typical remote-controlled cars often found at a neighborhood RadioShack," said Jackson. "Many are high-performance machines which can be easily operated at speeds in excess of 70 miles-per-hour. These cars require superior components made from durable, high-quality materials on which their drivers can rely to out perform others under demanding race conditions."
The company's flagship product, the G-10 Chassis Kit, was introduced to the market in 2004. It quickly garnered brand awareness and interest for RCM RC, initiating product reviews in several key industry publications. Customer feedback was strong, further elevating the perceived quality of the company's brand.
Today, RCM RC's products, which augment these popular hobby cars, are sold on the company's Web site, www.rcm-rc.com, as well as through various hobby stores and online retailers.
"I started the company by myself and provided the initial financing," said Jackson. "Now, our products have been sold to satisfied customers all across the United States and in three other countries. Our kits, well-known by professionals and consumers, even helped satisfy the recreational needs of American soldiers serving overseas in Europe and the Middle East."
Jackson projects that RCM RC, LLC will produce over $100,000 in sales in 2008. During the month of February, the company experienced phenomenal growth with a sales increase of 240 percent over the previous month. It is a successful growth pattern that Jackson hopes to continue as he keeps his eye on development for the future.
"At present, our original designs are being contracted out to an inland machine shop for manufacturing," he says. "In the near future, we are going to purchase CNC equipment in order to manufacture our own parts. In the interest of quality control, cost reduction, production volume and design flexibility, having our own machine shop is going to enable us to produce parts of higher quality in a shorter timeframe. It will give us more flexibility with product designs, which will allow us to penetrate new markets."
Jackson is also currently researching the possibilities of trademarks and patents to protect brand identity and the company's competitive edge. In addition, his strategic goals for growth in 2008 include purchasing the production aspect of the business and manufacturing equipment to reduce turn-around as well as create more effective research and development of new products. He hopes to move the business into an office suite, complete with a manufacturing center and warehouse.
Jackson credits much of the business knowledge he has applied to his company to what he has gained through Auburn's Business-Engineering-Technology (BET) program, a collaborative curriculum shared between the College of Engineering and College of Business. The program focuses on providing students with the skills needed to bridge the communication gap that often exists between engineers and business managers. "I have learned business practices in my BET classes that I am implementing immediately in the real world," said Jackson. "They're helping to grow my business on a day-to-day basis."
By participating in the program, students like Jackson are able to earn the BET minor by working through real-world case studies and analyzing design problems and solutions within a multidisciplinary team setting. "BET students achieve a unique skill set and enhanced knowledge base that can be applied to challenges facing many facets of the business world," said Paul Swamidass, director of the BET program and professor of operations management. "Attaining the minor allows them to stand out among the competition. Their cooperative approach to problem-solving is a distinctive quality that many employers seek in today's job market."
Jackson is currently co-oping with Pratt & Whitney (UTC) in Columbus, Ga. Upon graduation he hopes to continue to develop and expand RCM RC, LLC on a full-time basis.
At the 59th annual American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Southeastern Regional Student Conference, Auburn students placed first and third in the Undergraduate Technical Paper Competition and second in the Master's Technical Paper Competition. This year's conference, held in Cape Canaveral, Fla., included more than 290 student participants and 70 student presentations, marking one of the largest student conferences ever held by AIAA. Read more >>
New rankings of graduate programs from U.S. News & World Report contain a range of results for several colleges and schools at Auburn.
The magazine's 2009 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools," ranks four AU colleges and schools and three programs from the College of Liberal Arts against other programs in similar fields across the United States. The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering was the only AU college in which multiple departments were also ranked. Read more >>
High school students from Alabama and Georgia recently received top honors in the state and national rankings for Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science (TEAMS) 2008, held on Auburn's campus concurrently with the College of Engineering's E-Day open house in February. Read more >>
David Elton, professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, and Ram Gupta, alumni professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, have received a $260,000 collaborative research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The proposed research, "Water Stabilization using Microparticles," addresses fundamental aspects of soil liquefaction during earthquakes, where loose, saturated sands turn to a fluid state during shaking, causing severe distress to buildings founded in these soils. Read more >>
You don't have to be an Auburn alum to understand the vision of Auburn Engineering.
A.J. Ronyak is a fourth generation asphalt man, born and raised in the industry. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all pavement pioneers in Ohio. He didn't come by success easily though, first shoveling asphalt then running heavy equipment and eventually making asphalt. Read more >>
Our line up of spring seminars covered a broad range of topics and included speakers from industry and academia. Some samples include:
Philip Reiner, deputy director of research and development at Stanley Associates, Inc., discussed the development of new and novel fabrication techniques at micron and nanometer scales has enabled new classes of materials and structures to be engineered for use in a wide variety of applications.
Paul H. Cohen, professor and department head of Industrial and Systems Engineering at North Carolina State University, discussed research results which shed new light on the nature of residual stresses in machined surfaces.
J. Michael Lyon, director of propulsion and structures for the U.S. Army's Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, talked about emerging needs, his directorate's track record in bringing new systems to the war fighter, current technology gaps and developing trends of interest.
Gerald G. McGlamery, Jr., senior staff engineer in the Process Fundamentals department of the Global Chemical Research division at ExxonMobile Chemical Company, provided ExxonMobil's Energy Outlook through 2030; and John Christy, climatologist for the state of Alabama, discussed CO2 and the Environment from a climatologist's perspective. Read more >>
Engineering E-News is a service of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.
This newsletter is distributed to alumni and friends throughout
the year. To read archived copies visit:
To learn more about the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, visit our Web site at: www.eng.auburn.edu
QUESTIONS about Engineering E-News may be directed to Michael Stone, Webmaster for the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, at firstname.lastname@example.org