Faculty Faction: Dr. Kevin Disotell

Dr. Kevin Disotell

Dr. Kevin Disotell is an assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at YSU. He holds a BS and PhD in Aeronautical & Astronautical l Engineering from The Ohio State University, with the primary focus of aerodynamics.

“While I was a doctoral candidate at Ohio State, I served as an instructor for a technical elective—helicopter aerodynamics—which was my first teaching experience in the classroom,” said Disotell. “It was also a good experience to balance teaching and research duties.”

After his experiences at OSU, Dr. Disotell began his career in the aerospace industry. He was able to contribute to programs and research efforts at NASA.

“I came to YSU from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia. Langley was established as our nation’s first civilian aeronautics laboratory, and it was an honor to be part of the 100th anniversary of the center’s opening this year,” said Disotell. “So many amazing achievements in aerospace history have roots at Langley. Having also worked in product development at Ford Motor Company in Michigan, I feel quite fortunate to have been part of such iconic organizations with tremendous histories.”

Dr. Disotell knew that giving college-level students the backgrounds for an aerospace degree would allow them to also experience what he had. Dr. Disotell’s interests in teaching at YSU arose because he could contribute to quality degree programs while also helping YSU to be a national model for public education value. Having been raised in Boardman, Disotell knew how important the university was to the area, so he wanted to be part of the university’s momentum.

“I look forward to creating an integrated teaching and research space in the fluid mechanics laboratory of Moser Hall,” said Disotell. “A key piece of this transformation is a new research-grade wind tunnel that we will build alongside our instructional tunnels. Being in a state of aviation pioneers and in the middle of our country’s Fluid Power Belt, it is important that we offer excellent training in fluid mechanics.”

This semester you can see Dr. Disotell if you are part of the mechanical engineering program or if you are taking Thermodynamics I or Fluid Dynamics.

In his short time here, Dr. Disotell has already started to make an impact at YSU. He has been involved in the effort to create a new student branch for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) on campus. This new student organization will open new doors for students with career interests in the aerospace field. The organization will work to provide its members professional connections. You can read more about the AIAA branch here.

Dr. Disotell has also expressed an urge to improve several components on campus for YSU engineering students.

“One of my goals is to help expand quality research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students with our work in the laboratory,” said Disotell. “Getting hands-on experience helps drive innovation and will prepare our students to enter the workforce in the aerospace sector, which continues to see global growth in economic value and manufacturing output. Ohio is a leading supplier to the aerospace industry.”

It is great to know that Dr. Disotell is aiming for the stars here at YSU.

“My favorite pastime is baseball. An ancestor of mine, Gene Desautels, played professional baseball as a catcher around the time of WWII,” said Disotell. “He was teammates with the famous hitter Ted Williams in Boston, and also played for Cleveland among other teams.”

Doesn’t Dr. Disotell sound like an amazing professor? For more information about AIAA or to contact Dr. Disotell for any reason, you can email him at kjdisotell@ysu.edu. Due to renovations, Dr. Disotell has a temporary office in Moser Hall 1460. His office will change after the second-floor updates are completed.

Alumni Spotlight: Ryan Betts

Ryan BettsRyan Betts is a YSU STEM alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He began his higher education with a love of math, physics, and problem-solving; and through his coursework, he found new interests in computer-aided design and additive manufacturing.

In his junior year at YSU, Ryan began working as a lab assistant in the Center for Innovation in Additive Manufacturing (CIAM) under his mentors, Dr. Brett Conner and lab manager Jay Wargacki. He used this position to enhance his classroom knowledge and to gain real-world experience for his future career.

Ryan now works as a design engineer under Dr. Kirk Rogers in the Center for Additive Technology Advancement (CATA) at General Electric in Pittsburgh, PA.

“As a design engineer, I am responsible for designing functional mechanical parts to be printed on the several 3D printers we have at our site,” he said. “We are capable of 3D printing parts out of several polymers, sands, and metal alloys, each possessing their own unique challenges in the design phase.”

During his senior year, Ryan had expressed to Dr. Conner his interest in GE’s CATA, but he knew there were no available positions. Through some networking and determination, he was hired just before graduation when a position became available.

Ryan gave a little bit of advice to YSU STEM students so that they can find opportunities like he did:

“My advice to STEM freshmen would be to get involved with internships, on-campus employment, and/or research as soon as possible. These are great ways to enhance your skillsets and make your resume stand out to potential employers! I didn’t do myself any favors by keeping my high school job into my first two years of college and neither will you.

To the seniors, don’t wait until May to start looking for a full-time job or graduate school. It’s never too early to start networking with professionals or interviewing for positions you want to secure upon graduation. At this point, setting up and preparing for interviews/universities should be considered just as important as completing projects or studying for exams.”

You don’t have to be an engineer, or even a STEM student, to apply this advice to your own education and career options. It’s never too early to start networking and planning, just like Ryan said. You never know what kind of opportunity will open up if you prepare and wait for it.

Student Organization Spotlight: Tau Beta Pi

Did you know that there is an honor society specifically for engineering students? Did you know that Youngstown State University has a student chapter of this honor society? Tau Beta Pi the only engineering honor society that covers all disciplines of engineering, and we have a chapter at YSU!

Eligible students are invited each year from the top 1/8 of the junior class and the top 1/5 of the senior class and graduate students. Tau Beta Pi is a very selective society and is very prestigious because of it.

Since this is an honor society, great importance is placed on students’ academics as well as their involvement in extracurricular activities. This means that many members are also involved in other STEM student organizations at YSU.

“Pretty much everyone in Tau Beta Pi [at YSU] is involved in either STEM Leadership Society (SLS) or their unique American society, like the American Society of Mechanical Engineers or the American Society of Chemical Engineers,” said president Libby Rogenski. “We also have a few members involved in the Society of Women Engineers.”

Besides being an impressive note on a resume, Tau Beta Pi students receive a lifetime membership and the benefits associated with that.

“There are a lot of alumni chapters, so they still get together and go to conventions,” said Libby, “and you get a subscription to the Tau Beta Pi magazine, Bent. And what’s cool is a lot of employers are Tau Bates themselves.”

Something that the YSU community is pretty familiar with is Engineers Week during spring semester, which is of course brought to you by Tau Beta Pi. Engineers Week is a whole week of different disciplines of engineering competing against one another in egg drops, fundraisers, and taping people to a wall.

Libby explained that Tau Beta Pi headquarters pays for the president of each chapter to attend the national conference each year, so she and the vice president were able to attend the conference in San Diego this year.

“It was a lot of fun and we learned a lot about the organization on a national scale,” said Libby. “We also got to know some of the other Ohio chapter leaders pretty well.”Tau Beta Pi initiates

Students who receive an invitation to join Tau Beta Pi should seriously consider joining for the benefits. Notable Tau Bates include astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, and supercomputer pioneer Seymour Cray.

Alumni Spotlight: Janet Gbur

Janet GburJanet Gbur, a Youngstown State University alumna and a current Case Western Reserve University doctoral candidate, is certainly making waves in the STEM community.

Though still pursuing a degree, she is very active in research and real-world experience.

“As an active member of ASTM International, I participated in the development of a test standard that relates to my dissertation work and I sit on several committees that create and maintain standards for metallurgy, fatigue and fracture, mechanical testing, and medical devices,” said Janet.

Her dissertation focuses on the effects of material purity on the fatigue and fracture of wires used in biomedical applications.

“Perhaps the most exciting and rewarding work is related to a project under PI Dustin Tyler in Biomedical Engineering,” said Janet. “His group is working on restoring the sense of touch to amputees through a unique neural interface system.”

Janet’s role in this project is to develop tests and evaluate the materials and mechanics to ensure quality and functionality for implantation. This requires knowledge of several disciplines, including materials science and mechanical, electrical, and biomedical engineering.

She has been published twice this year, once with Daniela Solomon and once with John J. Lewandowski, her doctoral advisor. You can read about the publications here.

Janet holds a BS in Biology from Kent State University, a BS in Materials Engineering and MSE in Mechanical Engineering from YSU. After she completes her doctorate at CWRU, she plans to continue her research and eventually teach at the university level.

“The most important part of my YSU STEM education was the early introduction to lab coursework and emphasis on fundamentals across all core engineering disciplines,” said Janet. “Strong mentorship from faculty Bob McCoy, Dan Suchora, and Hazel Marie helped to keep me focused and provide a solid academic foundation from which I could confidently pursue a doctoral degree and chart a career in research and academia.”

Recent Publications: Janet Gbur

Promoting Technical Standards Education in Engineering
2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


The United States Standards Strategy, the framework developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to guide the U.S. standards system, recognizes the need for standards education programs as a high priority and recommends initiatives that address the significance and value of standards. To this intent, a novel workshop was developed in partnership with the library and the School of Engineering to raise the level of awareness of technical standards and standards usage on campus. The effort was a result of a campus-wide collaboration that provided a low-cost method of introducing technical standards and providing a foundation to develop a series of online tools accessible to the campus community. The event featured guest speakers representative of six major national and international standards bodies in addition to faculty, staff and students. The panels provided discussions on the background of the various types of standards and industries impacted, the development and implementation of these documents, the ways in which students and faculty can become more familiar with these documents and the benefit to becoming actively involved with standards organizations. The presentations and question-and-answer sessions provided a venue to learn about technical standards and to talk about ways to improve standards education within the campus community. The event was well received as shown by strong attendance and follow up to online materials continues to show activity five months following the event. This paper summarizes the implementation of the workshop, its impact, and strategies to further improve standards education on campus.

Fatigue and fracture of wires and cables for biomedical applications
International Materials Reviews


Fine wires and cables play a critical role in the design of medical devices and subsequent treatment of a large array of medical diagnoses. Devices such as guide wires, catheters, pacemakers, stents, staples, functional electrical stimulation systems, eyeglass frames and orthodontic braces can be comprised of wires with diameters ranging from 10s to 100s of micrometres. Reliability is paramount as part of either internal or external treatment modalities. While the incidence of verified fractures in many of these devices is quite low, the criticality of these components requires a strong understanding of the factors controlling the fracture and fatigue behaviour. Additionally, optimisation of the performance and reliability of these devices necessitates characterisation of the fatigue and fracture properties of its constituent wires. A review of cable architecture and stress states experienced during testing is followed by an overview of the effects of changes in material composition, microstructure, processing and test conditions on fracture and fatigue behaviour of wire and cable systems used in biomedical applications.The review concludes with recommendations for future work.

Student Organization Spotlight: The American Society of Civil Engineers

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The American Society of Civil Engineers Youngstown State University Student Chapter is an organization for engineering students of all disciplines.

The main focus of the group, besides bringing YSU’s engineering students together, is building and preparing for the steel bridge and concrete canoe competitions. All of this preparation has paid off for them this year; they won first place at the Ohio Valley Student Conference for their steel bridge.

“The steel bridge competition is a cost analysis sort of thing,” said Leah McConnell, president of YSU’s ASCE. “So we fabricate this bridge and they do a load test—they measure how much it deflects and they also do a side sway test to see how much it moves from side to side.”

For the steel bridge competition, students compete to make the strongest bridge with the lowest cost.

“Our bridge cost a little bit over six million dollars total and then the next lowest cost was about eight million dollars,” said Leah. “So we beat all the other schools by about two million dollars, which is pretty impressive.”

YSU’s ASCE won $1000 for coming in first place at the regional steel bridge competition. They plan to use the money toward their trip to the national conference that they qualified for.

Any engineering students at YSU are welcome to join the ASCE. They have weekly meetings and compete in regular events against other schools across the country.

“We have a great group of people,” said Leah. “We really do become like a family since we spend so much time together.”

For more information, contact Leah at lmcconnell@student.ysu.edu or Dr. Islam at aaislam@ysu.edu.

Hailey Sullivan named inaugural recipient of the Co-Op of the Year Award

Hailey SullivanHailey Sullivan, a junior majoring in chemical engineering, is the first recipient of the newly established Co-Op of the Year Award.

Sullivan participated in a co-op at ABB, a global leader in power and automation technologies, located in Wickliffe, Ohio, from January to August as a proposal engineer. She secured the co-op through a past Internship/Co-Op Expo.

“It bridges sales aspects and engineering, which is kind of nice because you get to see all different facets of the company,” Sullivan said. “A proposal engineer creates a technical document that details all different parts of a project, and then it’s sent to a customer so they can determine whether or not they want to purchase the engineering project.”

To complete these proposals, she had to do cost analyses, create system architecture drawings and create engineering estimates. Each proposal took anywhere from an hour to a week, depending on how large the project was.

“They actually gave me a lot of responsibility and freedom, so I worked on larger control system upgrades, and I was able to run risk-review meetings,” Sullivan said.

She said that being able to run the risk-review meetings gave her a lot of confidence. As a sophomore at the time, Sullivan was able to lead a group of people that were high up in ABB and answer their questions. She said that along with the proposals and risk-review meetings, she was given other small, side projects to work on.

“I wrote different work instructions, detailing our departmental processes, and then once summer rolled around when the new co-op came, they told me to be his mentor,” Sullivan said. “I had to teach him how to create proposals and everything.”

Sullivan plans to return to ABB in the summer, where she will be working with the systems group. Until then, she has her sights set on taking steps to further her education.

“Right now my plan is to study for the GRE over winter break, take that, and then during my senior year I will apply to grad schools and a bunch of jobs,” she said. “Ideally I will be able to get into a school close enough to a job that I acquire, and I would like to start pursuing a master’s while I’m working.”

Sullivan is involved in many STEM-related groups, such as the Chem E-Car team, the Society of Women Engineers, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Tau Beta Pi and the Stem Leadership Society.

Faculty Faction: Joe Sanson

LiJoe Sansonke some of our other professors, Joe Sanson, an assistant professor of civil and construction engineering technology, is a lifelong Penguin.

Sanson received both his bachelor’s and master’s of engineering in civil and environmental engineering at YSU. He’s been an instructor at YSU for six years, but was just recently named to a tenure-track position.

As a professor, Sanson said he likes to emulate Dr. Scott Martin, who taught Sanson during his time as an undergrad and a graduate student.

“Dr. Martin — he just recently retired — had a big effect on my career at YSU,” Sanson said. “I had him in undergrad; I had him through my master’s, and I try to mimic my classroom instruction on how Dr. Martin did it. I thought he was one of the best professors I ever had.”

Sanson said that he hopes students remember that he expected a lot out of them, because hard work is what ultimately leads to success, which is how Sanson said he remembers Dr. Martin.

“I think it’s good for the students that we carry that tradition of rigorous coursework,” Sanson said.

With the switch from an instructor to a tenure-track professor, Sanson has begun working on research involving epoxy for parking decks.

“Right now I’m working for Simon products. They have [an epoxy product] that they want to use in parking decks,” Sanson said. “When a beam in a parking deck cracks, they have epoxy that they can inject into this crack. They have me doing some testing to make sure that it works and to make sure it fits the specs for different jobs.”

To test the epoxy, Sanson has plans of building beams similar to those in parking decks, cracking it, ejecting it with the epoxy, and then loading it up with weight to see how the strength of the beam handles extra weight. Once these lab tests are finished, the epoxy will be tested in real-life situations. Currently, Sanson is waiting on approval from YSU to try to epoxy on the decks around campus.

Faculty Faction: Tony Vercellino

Dr. Tony Vercellino, assistant professor of Civil Engineering, didn’t originally want to teach.

“Ten years ago if you asked me if I would be teaching at a university, I would have said you’re out of your mind,” he said.

But luckily for us STEMians, he changed his mind.

“I [thought I] was just going to be an engineer working with construction, and then I did the consulting stuff, found out it wasn’t my cup of tea, went back to school, got the opportunity to teach and found out I really liked it,” Vercellino said. “I guess you could say I kind of fell into it. I like being able to teach and being able to interact with the students and watch the ideas click whenever you explain something well in the classroom.”

He said he likes the small-school feel of the university, and that’s what made YSU appealing to him.

“I came from a big research university and that atmosphere was too research focused compared to what I want to do. It’s easy to lose touch with students at such a big university,” Vercellino said.

One of his main goals is to build a successful research program and further the name of the university. He said he wants to help build the program to be well-rounded so the students that do want to come here can get a broad environmental background as a part of their civil engineering degree.

He hasn’t started research yet, but Vercellino said he is looking to get into oil and gas research as well as broaden his research background in water and wastewater treatment. He is currently putting together a research article about the uptake of micropollutants in agriculture due to wastewater reuse, and will be serving as a professional mentor to the YSU chapter of Engineers Without Borders.

When he’s not in the classroom, you can find him refereeing ice hockey in his spare time or rooting for his favorite teams, the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Blues.

Sink or Float? The Annual Penguin Regatta

Penguin Regatta Awards
Students gathering in the gymnasium.

Each year, area schools gather in Beeghly Center to see who will sink and who will float. The annual Penguin Regatta, held on Tuesday, May 14th, 2013 was a day of learning, building, and celebrating area high school students, our future STEMians.

The morning started off with the students in the gymnasium for a planning session and boat building. The boats have to be constructed out of cardboard, duct tape, waterproofing substances, and plastic sheeting. The boat must have a bow, stern, and hull.

The Penguin Regatta is made up of a series of competitions including Showboat Design, Showboat Race, The Greatest Weight Afloat, Follow-The-Dotted-Line, and the technical journal. The teams must also present their boats in an oral competition.

The Penguin Regatta has several goals in mind for the students. One is for the students to have an increased knowledge of STEM, while encouraging the students to work together with critical thinking and problem solving skills.

“[W]alking into YSU that morning, we were all pretty nervous.” Julie Farley, now a Struthers High School graduate, says, “…even though at the beginning I didn’t want to do [the Penguin Regatta], I’m glad I got the opportunity to go. It was actually a lot of fun!”

This year there were participating teams from Chaney STEM, Choffin Career and Technical Center (Team 1 and Team 2), Springfield Local High School, Struthers High School (Team 1 and Team 2), University Project Learning Center, and West Branch High School (Team 1 and Team 2).

While all the students had fun cheering on their schools, Springfield Local High School came out on top, winning three of the six competitions. They placed first in the team presentations, the technical journal, and the Greatest Weight Afloat. Coming first in the Showboat Design competition was Chaney STEM. Struthers High School Team 1 won the Showboat Race. West Branch High School Team 1 won first place in the Follow-The-Dotted-Line Competition.

2013-05-14 12.23.39
A student being congratulated.

Showboat Design

  • 1st Chaney STEM
  • 2nd Springfield Local
  • 3rd Choffin Team 2

Showboat Race

  • 1st Struthers Team 1
  • 2nd Struthers Team 2
  • 3rd Choffin Team 1 

Technical Journal

  • 1st Springfield Local
  • 2nd Struthers Team 2
  • 3rd Struthers Team 1

Team Oral Presentations

  • 1st Springfield Local
  • 2nd West Branch Team 2
  • 3rd Struthers Team 1


  • 1st West Branch Team 1
  • 2nd Struthers Team 2
  • 3rd Struthers Team 1

Greatest Weight Afloat

  • 1st Springfield Local
  • 2nd West Branch Team 2
  • 3rd Struthers

STEM Showcase is coming!

STEM Showcase will be holding its annual event on Sunday, April 21st, 2013 from 2-4:30 pm. STEM Showcase is a celebration of student accomplishments. Primarily, students will be showing off their design projects to their parents, friends, teachers, and the community. Some students will be showing their research along with their advising faulty. There will be displays of projects and informal presentations.

STEM Showcase started a little over ten years ago for mechanical engineering students and later all engineering students. Now open to all STEM students, the STEM College is looking forward to showing off its students and their accomplishments. Last year there were approximately 30 projects and had a record number in attendance.

The STEM Showcase will be held in Moser Hall or, if weather permits, outside Moser Hall. There will also be 15-20 minute tours of the STEM College laboratories.


Kerry Meyers, Ph.D.- Faculty Faction


Youngstown State University is privileged to have Dr. Kerry Meyers on the faculty this year.Kerry brings passion, fun, and learning to the job of “First-Year Engineering Director.

Dr. Meyers earned her bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue. She continued with her masters in Mechanical Engineering at Oakland University in Michigan. Returning to Purdue, Kerry earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education. For her Ph.D. Kerry did research in student engagement and engineering identity (who goes into engineering, who stays in engineering, and why?).

Continue reading “Kerry Meyers, Ph.D.- Faculty Faction”

Incredible Edible Cars! The First Edible Car Competition At YSU!

While the future of cars keeps evolving, edible cars may not be the best road to travel down. But for STEM students, edible cars are a great way to learn and apply the different aspects of engineering. At the beginning of the month, almost 50 first-year engineering students participated in the First Edible Car Competition. The three-person groups were judged on speed, distance, and creativity.

Check out the video to see how some of the cars were created!

STEM Showcase

In Moser Hall, engineering projects such as the concrete canoe, steel bridge, and moon rover, competed for space with posters including one which described research that developed a mathematical modeling of fracking, for example, as approximately  30 student projects were on display at the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Showcase held on Sunday, April 22. The three-hour event provided an opportunity for STEM students to present their projects to peers, faculty, and the community.

In addition, Dr. Nathan Ritchey, chair of the Mathematics department, welcomed roughly 40 outstanding high school seniors into the STEM Leadership Society (SLS). These incoming fall 2012 students, among the best graduates from their high schools, were selected based on their written application and in-person interview. These outstanding student leaders will have the chance to be engaged in community service, research, and internships through their four year program as STEM majors at YSU.

Upcoming member Matt Pelch, senior at Howland High school will be majoring in computer engineering, and said that computer courses and interest in video games lead to his decision to enroll at YSU. Pelch added that he looks forward to be a part of SLS and YSU.

STEM students spent months, or longer on projects, typically in teams. A part of NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race, Mike Uhaus and his team were on hand to show their moonbuggy rover, which was a part of a national competition. The event is held in Huntsville Alabama, and high school and college students may participate. Two riders, one male and one female, face away from each other to pedal this human-powered vehicle. Uhaus noted that “last year the team experienced a suspension failure” so for this year’s competition the team focused primarily on suspension design.

Senior mechanical engineering student Chris Fenstermaker and his team worked with Canfield, Ohio, Linde Hydraulics, on the hydraulic system for wind turbine. The team, found, researched, and purchased a small- scale wind turbine then “designed a hydraulic system to fit the turbine size that we purchased.”

Junior Mechanical Engineering student Ken Minteer worked with art student Chris Kamykowski on a Collaborative Learning (CoLab) project. CoLab is an effort from the College of Fine and Performing Arts and STEM to bring art and engineering together.

Minteer described how Kamykowski wanted to make a barrel of monkeys cast out of bronze. With Kamykowski’s design, Minteer made templates on SolidWorks, a 3D program. “From there” Minteer said “we printed them out on our thermal jet printer.” In Bliss Hall, Kamykowski was able to finish the process by baking the molds and pouring the bronze from the two-coil induction furnace located in the art department.

The 2012 Showcase marked a hike in attendance. STEM students were able to present their hard work to families, media, and the community, who were able to see first-hand the capabilities of STEM College students. Also, high school students from area schools were in attendance to learn more about the YSU STEM program, and opportunities for research and project activities.

STEM Showcase

On April 22, Moser Hall was the location for the annual College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Showcase. The three hour event serves as a way for undergraduate STEM students to present their research projects to the campus community, as well as have high school students see, first hand, the opportunities available at the College and YSU.

The Moser Hall atrium buzzes with activity.

About 30 projects were on display, such as the concrete canoe and moon rover. STEM faculty was also present to guide tours through research laboratories and answer questions.

In addition, Dr. Nathan Ritchey, chair of the Mathematics & Statistics Department, welcomed incoming Fall 2012 YSU students who will be inducted into the STEM Leadership Society (SLS).  Through an application process, SLS accepts exceptional high schools students majoring in any STEM discipline.  The students will be involved in community service, internships, and various research initiatives.