Ralph Rockow's degrees from Ohio State led him to work on
engines for rockets. In 1970, an engine he developed helped
save the lives of the Apollo 13 astronauts.
Audra Helser ’08 Civil and Environmental Engineering
In July 2008, Audra Helser of Ashville, Ohio, began two years
of service with the Peace Corps in Africa. She shared her story
with News in Engineering via e-mail.
What are your responsibilities as a Peace Corps
I am serving as a water and sanitation volunteer in the small
village of Kouoro in the Sikasso region of Mali, West Africa.
There are only 700 people in the village, so it is a very small
community. I work closely with a young farmer named Abdoulaye
Sogodoogo. My name in the village is Mariam Sogodogo. I speak
Bambara, the local language of my village.
Halle Butvin ’05 M.S., City and Regional Planning
When Halle Butvin visited Uganda with a youth organization in
2006, she was prepared to see a nation scarred by a history of
conflict and poverty. What she didn’t anticipate was finding
what has become, at least for now, her life’s calling.
The women she met in districts like Gulu had skills but no
jobs. Their children did not attend school. Their families
could not afford to buy or build their own homes.
The experience planted in the city and regional planning alumna
a seed of desire to help not only on an individual level but on
a social and economic scale.
Three years later, that seed has grown into One Mango Tree, a
social business Butvin launched for Ugandan women to design,
sew and sell handbags, yoga supplies, home items and jewelry.
To meet One Mango Tree’s two missions, profit and social
impact, all earnings are reinvested in the company or similar
J. Adam Wilson, ’03 Electrical and Computer Engineering
J. Adam Wilson looks as if he’s preparing for a role as
Professor Charles Xavier, the telepathic X-Men superhero of
comic book, TV and movie fame.
Sitting in a research lab, Wilson wears a cap covered with
electrodes for an EEG, or electroencephalograph, and wires that
connect him to the computer in front of him.
With the Internet as his portal, he communicates with the world
via the social networking tool Twitter, but he never touches
the keyboard. Using a brain-computer interface that he
developed, he sends a tweet — using only his thoughts.
The message, “USING EEG TO SEND TWEET,” certainly didn’t go
unnoticed. Time magazine chose his brain-Twitter interface as
the 9th best invention of 2009, and Popular Science included
Wilson in its 2009 Brilliant 10 listing of outstanding young
Shawn Conyers, ’96 and M.A. ’98, Architecture
Shawn Conyers recalls his first weeks as a student in the
Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture — especially an
admonition he received.
“It was strongly recommended to me not to have a job or any
extracurricular activities while pursuing my degree, since
studying would require all of my time,” says Conyers.
Already a member of the Ohio State varsity wrestling team on
academic and athletic scholarships, however, Conyers was
“I am very proud that I was able to complete my architecture
degrees while wrestling for five years at Ohio State, when
others told me it couldn’t be done,” says Conyers.
Still today, Conyers is no stranger to hard work. His day
begins at 5:30 a.m. He walks through the door of downtown
Columbus’ Meyers + Associates Architecture, where he is senior
associate, by 7:30 a.m. to get a jump on things before his team
arrives. He confesses that he often forgets to eat lunch amidst
drawing, coordinating projects with clients, phone calls,
e-mails and meetings. He heads home around 5:30 p.m. to spend
time with his family, sometimes tackling more work in the
evenings to prepare for the next day, and falls into bed by