Spotlight Education Day: Leadership Portage County
Heather Ryan, Academic and Recruitment Retention Director, led this visit. Ryan regularly hosts visitors, primarily prospective students and families, and provides an immersive experience into the CAE facilities by customizing each experience to the individual groups' interests.
Ryan’s favorite aspect of serving the CAE is connecting with many different people, with varying interests related to the college. "It is incredibly rewarding to provide these experiences in our facilities because it goes beyond just providing information. Instead, it gives access to the spaces and labs that future students and community members want to see,” she says. The CAE encourages community collaboration and engagement within all areas of our college. Receiving the opportunity to collaborate with Leadership Portage County proved itself to be an instructive and fulfilling experience.
The group arrived at the Aeronautics and Engineering Building at 1:00 PM EDT for an overview of academic programs and partnerships led by Ryan and Danielle Muckley, Director of External Affairs. Kurt Ruehr, Director of Leadership Portage County, said this information session was helpful. “There are a lot of questions out there regarding worker shortages and the misalignment of higher education to the needs of employers. CAE has taken the time to make sure that their programs are relevant to these needs and prepare the students to quickly find employment after graduation.”
Following the college overview, the group did a walk-through of the Air Traffic Control Lab, Mechatronics Lab, and Robotics Lab, followed by a viewing of the Foundry with Professor Trent True. The Foundry is a lab space where students learn Materials & Processes, welding, manual machining, forging, casting, materials testing, and plastics. On any given day, one can walk through the CAE building and hear the sounds of students tinkering away in there, harnessing their creativity.
Also included on the tour was a visit to the Wind Tunnel and Aerospace Center with Dr. Kelsen Laberge, Associate Professor and Engineering Program Coordinator, as well as a demonstration of Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAV) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Dr. Rui Lui, Assistant Professor.
The members of Leadership Portage County also received a tour of Kent State’s newest enterprise, the Design Innovation Hub from the Executive Director, J.R. Campbell. The Design Innovation Hub had its grand opening in April 2021 and has since been an invaluable component to not only the CAE, but to Kent State's campus as a whole, even being named one of the best maker schools in the world by Newsweek.
The tour of the DI Hub Maker Spaces included demonstrations of the laser cutting machine, vinyl cutting machine, and CNC Machine, to name a few. They also viewed the Blank Lab, which is used for investigating collaborative experiences and immersive technologies such as virtual and extended realities.
For Ryan, this specialized tour of the DI Hub was her favorite part of the day. “This was my first opportunity to view the DI Hub in a specialized way and it was great to see the collaborative spaces that our students have the opportunity to work in. Especially with all the various research and different projects happening within our college programs, it's great to know students have this space.”
The mission of Leadership Portage County is to provide unique insights into Portage County; explore and develop various styles, theories and examples of leadership; to provide opportunities to build relationships and networks, and to serve as a catalyst for volunteerism and positive change in Portage County. If you are interested in getting involved with Leadership Portage County or practicing, you can apply via the LPC website.
The College of Aeronautics and Engineering has a special interest in community engagement as it gives us a unique way to showcase all that our college has to offer. We look forward to the next opportunity to collaborate with outside community members and further our educational and community outreach.