Destination Kettering

Oct 14, 2005

Increasingly, Kettering students are coming from all parts of the U.S. A mini boom area is western New York state where student and corporate partner numbers are growing.

They may live closer to MIT, Clarkson University or other technological universities in the eastern United States, but students are drawn to the co-operative education experience at Kettering University that gives them the advantage of two years professional work experience upon graduation. Two students from Rochester, N.Y., one at the end of her college career, the other just beginning his, tell why they chose Kettering and why they stayed.

Join us:
Wednesday, Oct. 26
Rochester, N.Y.
Kettering alumni and friends, along with current and prospective students,
will meet at 6 p.m. at the Clarion Riverside Hotel in Rochester. The 7 p.m. program features President Stan Liberty.
Call 800-955-4464, ext. 9571. The event is free and open to the Public.


They stepped from the Greyhound into a warm Detroit street where steam puffed from manhole covers. With a smoky grunt of its engine, the bus pulled away from the curb, leaving the two girls in front of the station looking for a cab. It was midnight. For Erin McDermott, a new life awaited some 75 miles to the north in a small city she recently learned of as she looked for colleges to attend, a place where General Motors Corporation and cooperative education were born.

Eventually a cab came chugging down the street. After a few moments of cajoling, the driver agreed to transport them to Flint.

The next morning McDermott met with Dr. Kathryn Svinarich, associate professor of Applied Physics and Dr. David Parker, retired professor of Applied Physics, who took time to personally speak with McDermott about Kettering's professional cooperative education program and academics.

"That's when I knew that Kettering was where I wanted to be," McDermott recalled.

Today, she is a senior who co-ops at Federal-Mogul in the Manufacturing Technologies Development facility in Ann Arbor, Mich. Born and raised in the Rochester, N.Y., area, McDermott attended Greece Olympia High School and found Kettering while browsing websites to compare different universities. "An ad for Kettering popped up," she said about her browsing. "When I went to Kettering's website, I read about the Applied Physics major and the co-op program, which piqued my interest. Until then, I had primarily considered only the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester. But neither offered an applied form of a physics major with built-in co-op experience from the freshman year. I later learned that Kettering is unique in this respect."

Within a week, she and her best friend made plans to visit Kettering. Once they arrived in Detroit late at night, found a cab that took them to Flint, and met with Dr. Svinarich the next morning, McDermott knew she found the only school she wanted to attend. She spent time earning money for tuition, enrolled, than began her studies while searching for a co-op company near her home in Rochester, N.Y.

But her road to co-op and educational success at Kettering was not easy.

During her first five weeks at the University, her father, the sole provider for the family, suffered a brain aneurysm. Since her mother also suffers from a progressive form of multiple sclerosis (MS), the financial issues of attending college so far away from home made it difficult for the family. McDermott decided the best way to help her mother and father, as well as her younger brother, would be to return home, take a position at Frontier Communications in Rochester, and help pay the bills. "I wanted more than anything to find a co-op job in Rochester," she said. But the needs of her family took precedence.

Eventually her father and mother's health improved. She returned to Kettering and took up her current co-op assignment with Federal Mogul. During the period when her father and mother required her assistance, McDermott said several Kettering professors played important roles in her life.

"You get a piece of paper when you walk out of Kettering like other universities, but when you get it from this institution, you know you earned it-and so do employers."
-- Erin McDermott

"Professor Mary Gebhart, retired Professor David Parker and Dr. Bahram Roughani are prime examples of some of the genuinely caring people at Kettering," she explained. "When my dad was stricken in the middle of my first year, Professor Gebhart helped me pull myself together to physically get home the day he became sick. Professor Parker helped me navigate the University paperwork and policies when I left, and again two years later when I came back to the school. And Dr. Roughani has helped me greatly since I've come back, with everything from course selections, to putting together a study abroad program, to finding my current co-op employer. I would not have come nearly as far as I have today personally or in my education without the help of these individuals."

One day McDermott would like to return to her high school and tell the students about her degree program and cooperative experience. She feels that because Kettering's program is so unique, "high school students should at least know what it is and that the opportunity exists to give them some options," she said. "The school is tough like other universities, but comes with the added pressure of condensed 11-weekcourses. Kettering has its strict professors, but I can affirm that they truly care and wish to see students succeed," she added.

Her future plans include studying abroad at the University of Applied Sciences in Ulm, Germany during the spring 2006 term. She is currently the president of the Kettering Outdoors Club and Dance Club. She will graduate from Kettering in the fall of 2006 with a degree in Applied Physics.

Although she could have attended any university, McDermott said that at Kettering, "You get a piece of paper when you walk out of Kettering like other universities, but when you get it from this institution, you know you earned it-and so do employers."


Andrew Morabito is interested in studying Mechanical Engineering and began his academic career on campus Oct. 3. Engineering wasn't what he thought he would pursue as a career, although he always loved taking thing apart as a kid.

"I am still taking things apart today," he admitted. "I have always been really good at building things, and very imaginative, but I have always wanted to be a lawyer like my father," he said. A career in law isn't too far-fetched for an engineering student, however. Many Kettering graduates go into patent law, combining their love of taking thing apart AND being a lawyer.

Kettering's co-operative education program caught his attention though. "It is so much more intense than every other college I looked at," he said. " Most, if not all, the colleges did not have a program for co-op like Kettering, and even if you got a co-op position it would not count toward your academics at all," he added.

He was especially impressed with the Ford and GM design labs on campus, and, as the first member of his family to pursue a career in engineering, has decided to study Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in design work.

David Morabito, Andrew's father, feels Kettering is the best place for his son to pursue a career in Engineering. "We visited various schools before deciding," said David Morabito, "but we felt the Engineering education at Kettering was vastly superior to that of other schools with Engineering programs. And the labs are excellent."


"It is so much more intense than
every other college I looked at."
-- Andrew Morabito

The senior Morabito agreed with his son that the co-op program was also an important element of the Kettering experience. "It gives students knowledge of what employment consists of," he said. "A cousin of mine who is a senior vice president at Kodak helped us make the decision to choose Kettering, when he said he heard the school had an excellent reputation and that his boss had graduated from Kettering. It put into perspective how Kettering is viewed in the real world," said David Morabito.

In addition to the academics, the on-campus Wellness Center also caught Andrew Morabito's eye, mostly because of his interest in sports. Morabito felt he would probably be visiting the Wellness Center at lease once or twice during his college career. An avid athlete at East Rochester High School, Morabito participated in Cross Country, Soccer, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Golf Team and Varsity Club.

"I thought the SAE Mini Baja team looked interesting too," he said. Mini Baja consists of three regional competitions that simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. Engineering students are tasked to design and build an off-road vehicle that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain.

Other Rochester, N.Y., ties:

Rochester's JackSchickler '65 was awarded the prestigious Kettering University Alumni Association Human Relations Award in May. The CEO of Fleet Cross Service Professionals in Rochester, he was honored at Kettering's Bulldog Days in the spring for his "significant contributions in inspiring unity." Schickler helped Kettering's Student Alumni Council and Flint's Children's Dream Center feed 300 local families during Thanksgiving 2004.

Rochester's Aqua Porter '84 is a vice president at the Xerox Corporation and is a strong advocate for increasing the participation of women in Corporate America. She serves as an adviser to organizations including Xerox's Black Women's Leadership Council and The Women's Alliance.

The robotics team from East Rochester High School, The Shock-a-bots, won "The Long Shot Award" during the Kettering Kickoff high school robotics contest in Flint on Sept. 17. The Shock-a-bots traveled 354 miles and were one of the 30 teams competing in Kettering's sixth annual robotics competition.

To help facilitate students and co-op partners in the area, Kettering has an integrated team drawing on all university departments:

Written by Gary Erwin, Dawn Hibbard and Pat Mroczek
Contact: Pat Mroczek
(810) 762-9533