Summer Research Experience Guides Marketing Major to Interdisciplinary Studies
Angela Deibel might just be the poster child for KSU’s new research mantra: Innovation Occurs Where Fields Collide. She is one of 35 students who participated in Kent State’s inaugural Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program. Since then, Deibel has settled into a sweet spot where her talents and passions merge, with a double major in marketing and applied engineering, and a sustainability minor.
“I have always been passionate about the Earth and protecting our world,” Deibel said. “I can’t do it through politics, but I can help by actually working to save the resources we have.”
In her spring 2016 “Introduction to Sustainability” course, Deibel impressed her instructor — Dr. Yanhai Du, Assistant Professor of Applied Engineering, Sustainability, and Technology. Du said when he volunteered to be a SURE mentor, he knew the opportunity was perfect for Deibel, whom he believes is destined to play a part in shaping the future.
“She’s not an engineer academically, but she looks like she’s falling in love with engineering,” Du said. “I don’t need to spend much time standing over her. We talk about what needs to be done and how to do it, and she does it.”
Deibel is harder on herself than her mentor is.
“If they let the clumsy intern handle the heavy, expensive fuel cell, then you know it’s as durable as they say it is,” she said. But her self-deprecating humor comes with a healthy dose of wisdom. “The thing I learned most from my SURE internship was how to make mistakes. I learned to understand that with every mistake I made, I was one step closer to my goal. That was a big life lesson.”
Deibel’s determination during SURE led Du to put her in charge of a project to build a zero-emission vehicle — “ZEV” — prototype. Working toward an individual investigation credit, Deibel is the only undergraduate on the three-person team she’s leading.
“I knew that for her alone, it was too challenging, so I put together a team,” Du said. “Angie is focused on the environmental impact.” The vehicle is an electric golf cart. The team installed a solar panel on the roof to charge the batteries. Deibel said ZEV — which has now completed phase 1 of a two-phase project — will serve the Kent State community by providing tours and transportation for visitors, alumni, VIPs, and for special needs. Beyond utility, though, is a greater purpose. “I told her we need people to tell the world there is such a thing as sustainability,” Du said.
That’s where her other talent comes in. Deibel the marketing student has big plans to let the world know about ZEV and sustainability.
“I’ve always been a natural at marketing, so I want to use my voice to better the world through media,” Deibel said. “The goal is to raise awareness and generate engagement with students. The best way to do that is to make lots of noise.”
The cart will be outfitted with state-of-the-art sound and video systems. While taking a ride, passengers can charge their cellphone onboard if needed through the multiple cellphone charge outlets. Students will drive it around campus, blasting music, and bring it to big events like Flash Fest. Deibel said they also plan to rent it out to student groups. The first ride, though, is reserved for a very special passenger.
“President Beverly Warren will receive an official invitation to be the first to tour campus in ZEV,” Deibel said. Deibel intends to pursue a Ph.D. in engineering.
“By the end of my internship, I had thoroughly cultivated a growing love of technology and engineering,” she said. “Sustainability had always been a passion of mine, but I had never before thought of it as a calling.”