Friday, December 12, 2014

Student Lands the Perfect Job Before Graduation.

Student Lands the Perfect Job Before Graduation


Posted 12/12/2014
Submitted by Barbara Steinberger
Category: Campus Announcements, Student Announcements
Austen Williams is pictured outside Konover shortly before Fall Commencement on Dec. 7. (Click on photo to enlarge.)
Austen Williams is pictured outside Konover shortly before Fall Commencement on Dec. 7. (Click on photo to enlarge.)
For the past seven weeks, Austen Williams has been leading a double life.
Williams, who took part in Fall Commencement on Sunday, Dec. 7, earning a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, has been juggling the life of a full-time college student with the life of a young professional.

He has spent eight-hour days working as a regional application engineer for Henkel Corp. in Rocky Hill, Conn., and has then come back to his campus home to take classes, work on his senior capstone project, and teach a physics lab.

“It’s been quite a balancing act,” said Williams.

Williams is in the enviable position of having been offered a good job in his field weeks before graduation, thanks to his talent, drive, and a co-op opportunity that he got through the University.
During the spring 2013 semester, Professor Cy Yavuzturk, one of Williams’s professors in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture (CETA), asked his students if any of them would be interested in a co-op experience at Henkel, in which they would work full-time for six months while also receiving some college credit.

While the co-op would provide invaluable experience, it also would mean graduating one semester late. A number of students expressed interest in the co-op opportunity, but Williams was one of the few who was willing to delay his graduation for one semester — a risk that ultimately paid off.
Henkel is an international company based in Germany with leading brands and technologies in several areas. The co-op was with Henkel’s adhesive technologies division in Rocky Hill.
From June through December 2013, Williams worked full-time at Henkel, performing lab tests and writing technical reports, and met regularly with his advisor at CETA, Professor of Mechanical Engineering Robert Celmer. At the end of the six-month co-op, Williams wrote a paper about the experience.

During the summer of 2014, Williams’s former mentor at Henkel told him about a job opening for a regional application engineer, and this fall, Williams got the job. He has been working at Henkel two days a week since Oct. 20, while he finishes his degree requirements and wraps up his college career. He will start working full-time on Jan. 5.
As a regional application engineer, Williams will be working with the sales team to determine which products best fit clients’ needs, and to validate the application of those products through lab testing. Williams said that his CETA coursework prepared him well for the co-op and for his new job, by giving him the “problem-solving mentality” he needs to be able to analyze and address engineering problems.

Williams, who plays a wide range of instruments — including guitar, drums, piano, bass, harmonica, mandolin, and banjo — started at the University of Hartford majoring in mechanical engineering with a concentration in acoustics. He never considered a career as an application engineer until his co-op with Henkel, but he has discovered that it is a perfect fit for him.
“The co-op allowed me to see what an application engineer does. As soon as I started, I thought ‘This is where I could see myself being happy,’” said Williams, who enjoys working directly with customers and coming up with solutions for their needs. “I really love it.”

UNOTES - Univ. of Hartford - 12/12/14

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Taking Hartford's Simmering Pots To A Boil - By MICHAEL J. CROSBIE

Taking Hartford's Simmering Pots To A Boil


Hartford needs to nurture small entrepreneurial businesses for a bustling future
Hartford's many simmering businesses and ideas must be encouraged

Architects and planners like grand schemes. "Make no little plans," counseled Chicago architect Daniel Burnham just over a century ago. But maybe today we need to think differently about a city like Hartford, whose future might lie in thousands of little things — creative and synergistic ideas —happening, connecting, collaborating, sharing, shaping, building.
That impression emerged from a lively panel discussion last week on imagining a new Hartford, part of a series of exhibits and events at the Hartford Public Library and the Connecticut Historical Society. The Courant's Tom Condon asked the panel of four folks involved with creative, innovative organizations working to change the city what Hartford will look like in 25 years.
Cities are shaped by people and projects that can simmer for years until reaching a boiling point, and the impression is that Hartford has an encouraging number of pots on the stove. One is MakeHartford, headed by Steve Yanicke, who describes the enterprise as a "gym for geeks" who like to make stuff. MakeHartford is at 30 Arbor Street, in a space that offers folks access to digital toys and tools like 3D printers (you can "print" objects). Yanicke spoke about the allure of incubator space where people can meet, learn to use new technologies and share knowledge. It's something of a free-form collaborative, "connecting people who are doing things with other people who are doing things," he explained.
Yanicke's vision of the city is a place where new businesses, with very low starting costs, attract other entrepreneurs just because innovative types feed off each other. For Yanicke, one of Hartford's greatest assets is the empty buildings that can become hotbeds of creative collaboration, leading to new businesses, housing and communities. Yanicke noted that housing in downtown Hartford always seems to grow in the wrong direction. Instead of more towers, Yanicke sees a downtown thriving with more three- and four-story, mixed-use residential and retail structures, where people live close to work, walk and actually meet their neighbors.
Gina Muslim, director of the Hartford Community Partnership, Community Solutions, sees the former Swift gold-plating factory in Hartford's North End as similar to Yanicke's idea of flexible incubator space. Rather than devoting Swift to one use, Muslim imagines a place that combines work, living, health care and food shopping within its 65,000 square feet. The idea is to create enough synergy in one place to offer residents and the surrounding neighborhood a one-stop community resource focused on job creation. The key, notes Muslim, is getting the right mix of uses and anchor businesses, and then studying what worked and what doesn't work so it can be replicated in other neighborhoods.
Food is the critical component to successful revitalization. Cary Wheaton, executive director of Billings Forge Community Works in Frog Hollow, sees new restaurants and farmers markets, along with good housing, luring folks to city neighborhoods. "Food and housing are the drivers" for community building, says Wheaton, who noted that Billings has created about 100 jobs over the past six years.
Echoing the others on the panel, Wheaton cautioned against high-powered, multimillion-dollar solutions. Sometimes a new idea is in plain sight. Like closing cafeterias! Wheaton speculated on what would happen to the urban life on Hartford's streets overnight if the city's major employers closed their cafeterias and people had to leave work to have lunch. The economic driver for new lunch places and busy streets is right there. "Small things connect with other things, and that is sustainable community building," says Wheaton.
Kristina Newman-Scott, director of marketing, events and cultural affairs for the city, thinks that Hartford's biggest problem is an inferiority complex. "We need pride in the city," and to start taking advantage of the incredible creative resources here. She pointed out that within its 18 square miles Hartford has more than 300 arts and cultural institutions. "The challenge is to connect these creative communities," says Newman-Scott, who also sees incubator space and short-term, low-cost leases as a way to hot-wire new retail. "Creative businesses grow out of a more do-it-yourself culture, with the city serving as a platform," she believes.
So, what will Hartford look like?
Michael J. Crosbie is an architect in Essex and chairman of the University of Hartford's Department of Architecture.