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Summer 2006 | Volume 29, Number 3 | Campus

Original Student Research Takes Top Billing

Meeting of the Minds

IT WAS A SIGHT THAT WOULD HAVE made Bill Nye The Science Guy proud. On May 11, 2006, in Otto Miller Hall, 45 Seattle Pacific University students showcased their original research as part of the fourth-annual Erickson Undergraduate Research Conference.

Named for Joyce Erickson, emerita professor of English and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the conference gives undergraduate science and technology majors an opportunity to present their projects and compete for awards. This year’s top honors were won by eight students, all seniors: Chad Austin, Tyson Chung, Joshua Clark, Ben Creelman, Asher Danner, Alan Dowden, Collin Hauskins, and Katie Klug.

Each student presentation represented hours of work, and in the case of Creelman’s project, “Alternative Heating Techniques to Carbon Fiber Fabrication,” an interesting back story. In the summer of 2005, the engineering major, then a junior, interned at the aerospace tooling manufacturer Janicki Industries. “My internship was invaluable,” he says. “I learned a lot about the engineering process, specifically about the interaction between academic ideals and industry realities.”

With the upcoming Erickson Undergraduate Research Conference in mind, Creelman peppered his Janicki mentors with questions. “I ended up speaking with the vice president of the company, John Janicki, who helped me develop a concept and ultimately agreed to sponsor my research.”

Creelman investigated the heating process for curing carbon fiber composites — a material 10 times stronger, but five times lighter, than steel — which is used to build structures as varied as airplanes, race cars, and robots. His research was focused on identifying and developing a more efficient method of heating these composites without the use of large ovens. The results were so intriguing that Janicki personally invited Creelman to present his findings to the company’s engineers.

“I was always a big Legos kid,” Creelman says. “So engineering seemed like a natural for me.” Creelman completed his bachelor of science degree from Seattle Pacific in June after only three years and will transfer to the University of Washington this fall to complete a second degree in mechanical engineering. He hopes to one day pursue a career as a mechanical engineer.

In many ways, the Erickson Undergraduate Research Conference was an important springboard and confidence booster for Creelman and other students. Fellow award winner Katie Klug, who will begin a master’s degree program in chemistry next year at the University of Oregon, agrees: “I want to be a high school teacher,” she says. “And, after my presentation, many people said they could see some of that in me already, which is great!”

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A Class of 2006 graduate reflects on lessons learned in Havana, Cuba, and in a classroom visit from Edward Nixon — Richard Nixon’s brother.

Back-Cover Art
As Professor of Art Michael Caldwell retires, he shares a landscape from the Big Sky Country.

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