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Engineering

Fellows Named for MAC Leadership Program

Four UToledo faculty members have been selected to participate in the third year of the Mid-American Conference Academic Leadership Development Program.

The program was created to identify, develop, prepare and advance faculty as leaders in the colleges and universities that are members of the Mid-American Conference. Fellows participating in the program have the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and experience by working closely with select administrators from other colleges and universities in the MAC.

“We are happy The University of Toledo participates in this worthwhile program that helps faculty members reach their leadership potential,” Dr. Amy Thompson, vice provost for faculty affairs and professor of public health, said.

Fellows for the 2019-20 academic year are:

• Dr. Jonathan Bossenbroek, professor of environmental sciences and director of the Office of Competitive Fellowships and Undergraduate Research;

• Dr. Maria Coleman, professor and chair of chemical engineering and associate director of the Polymer Institute;

• Dr. Scott Molitor, professor of bioengineering and senior associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Engineering; and

• Dr. Rebecca Schneider, professor of science and teacher education, and associate dean of graduate studies in the Judith Herb College of Education.

All tenured faculty with experience in administrative leadership and service are eligible to apply for the MAC Academic Leadership Development Program. Candidates submitted a letter of support from their dean, as well as an application and curriculum vitae for consideration.

“Our Fellows will work alongside UToledo leaders to learn from their experience,” Thompson said. “They also will benefit from working with administrators and peers from other MAC institutions.”

All MAC Academic Leadership Development Program Fellows will attend one three-day workshop each semester. Topics to be addressed include budgeting, conflict resolution, accreditation and accountability.

“This program allows our Fellows a chance to prepare for leadership positions while experiencing the challenges and rewards of institutional service,” Thompson said. “This is a great opportunity to advance leadership for our UToledo faculty members.”

Read more about the MAC Academic Leadership Development Program on the Office of the Provost website.

UToledo to Spotlight Sustainable Energy Program That Repurposes Nuclear Reactors for Hydrogen Production

The University of Toledo College of Engineering is hosting a workshop to showcase a national program designed to use the country’s commercial nuclear reactors to produce hydrogen and help the transportation, chemical and steel industries close the carbon cycle.

The event, focused on the sustainable energy program, will start at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, in the Nitschke Hall Room 1027, and bring together representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, scientists from U.S. national laboratories, UToledo faculty, representatives from Davis-Besse nuclear power plant, and industry leaders.

As part of the national project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho National Laboratory is working with the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station on a pilot program to install an electrolysis system to produce hydrogen.

“The University of Toledo is proud to host a workshop to explore opportunities in repurposing light water nuclear reactors for hydrogen production through a hybrid systems design,” said Dr. Mike Toole, dean of the UToledo College of Engineering.

“The project is a win for regional industries and clean energy,” Dr. Connie Schall, UToledo associate vice president for research, said. “Nuclear electricity is a low carbon emission power source. The nuclear energy hub model opens many opportunities for regional industries, not only for green hydrogen, but also for other electrochemically driven processes.”

This workshop will explore the current state-of-the-art opportunities for industry, government and academic collaboration, identify current research-and-development gaps, and provide an overview of the U.S. Department of Energy programs that are leading the effort to build a hydrogen economy and innovative power grid solutions.

The agenda and registration information can be found at the workshop website.

The workshop comes three months after the U.S. Department of Energy selected UToledo to host National Lab Day, which connected students and researchers with preeminent scientists from world-class facilities across the country to explore opportunities for partnerships.

Engineering Students Create Device to Help Actor With Muscular Dystrophy

A professional Chicago actor’s ability to bring characters to life on stage is stronger thanks to a team of engineering students at The University of Toledo.

As their senior design project, the engineering team of Cassandra Brown, Brandon Payeff, Adam Pusateri and Nicholas Wryst created a way for Joel Rodriguez, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, to more expressively conduct his arms by leveraging the full set of physical motion he possesses.

Joel Rodriguez performed on stage earlier this year at the Greenhouse Theater Center in Chicago during a performance of “All Quiet on the Western Front.” A team of UToledo engineering students designed a way for the actor, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, to be more expressive on stage.

“Our medical device was designed for the stage, but also to make Joel’s everyday life a lot easier when it comes to assisting his arm movement,” said Payeff, who is graduating this month with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and starting a full-time job at Marathon Petroleum Corp. in Findlay, Ohio. “It’s low-key, not bulky or distracting.”

“Our biggest hurdle was communication,” Pusateri said. “Since Joel is in Chicago, we learned about his abilities and troubleshot our prototype through Skype and FaceTime. We shipped him our device to test it.”

UToledo engineering students, from left, Cassandra Brown, Brandon Payeff, Adam Pusateri and Nicholas Wryst worked on the device to help actor Joel Rodriguez.

Muscular dystrophy is a genetic disease that causes progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass over time.

“Joel has no shoulder strength, so we came up with something designed to fit on his existing wheelchair that improves his range of motion,” said Wryst, who is graduating this month with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and starting his career at Cook Medical in Bloomington, Ind.

“You rest your elbow and forearm on the device, and then can swivel it left and right, extend it to reach for something, and bring it back.”

It would cost about $65 to duplicate the device. The main mechanism consists of four parts created with a 3D printer and a layer of thermoplastic to give grip and protection from the bolts. It’s mounted to a slider track, using two pulleys to support the bungee cables.

“Products like this are what allow people with disabilities to continue to lead independent lives,” Rodriguez said. “As someone who is involved in the performing arts and acting, being able to send not only your energy vocally but physically to the back of the house is important. And because I have limited range of mobility, a product like this ideally will help me be able to bring that expressiveness to the characters that I get to portray on stage.”

Dr. Matt Foss, assistant professor in the UToledo Department of Theatre and Film, connected the students with Rodriguez, who performed in Foss’ adaptation of “All Quiet on the Western Front” in Chicago.

“They worked with Joel in an ethical and empathetic manner with incredible results,” Foss said. “It truly speaks to the commitment to innovation that UToledo has in all areas — the arts and the sciences.”

The engineering team is presenting the prototype at the Kennedy Center American College Theater festival in January.

“There’s still more to be done to improve our device,” said Brown, who graduates this month and will start a full-time job at GE Appliances in Louisville, Ky. “It’s designed to replace an existing arm rest on a wheelchair. Mounting is something we’re still working on. Next semester, another group of engineering students will take over the project.”

Families Set to Celebrate Commencement Dec. 14

More than 2,000 students at The University of Toledo will graduate at commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 14, in Savage Arena.

The University is holding two ceremonies to include both undergraduate and graduate students from each of the colleges.

A total of 2,070 degrees will be awarded: 1,474 bachelor’s degrees, 426 master’s degrees, 104 doctoral degrees, 41 associate’s degrees, 15 education specialist degrees and 10 graduate certificates.

The 9 a.m. ceremony will recognize all Ph.D. candidates and graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Engineering; Judith Herb College of Education; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The 1 p.m. ceremony will recognize undergraduate and graduate students receiving degrees from the colleges of Business and Innovation; Health and Human Services; Nursing; University College; and Medicine and Life Sciences.

Commencement is always a time to celebrate with family. Their support is critical to achieving success. For several students walking across the stage this year, family was literally at their side for the journey.

Lori and Jordan Boyer in 2001 and 2019

At 48 years old, Lori Boyer is set to take the stage and grasp her diploma on the same day as her son, Jordan.

Lori, a preschool teacher, started taking classes at UToledo in 1990, but stopped to raise her three children.

After returning in January to cross the finish line, the UToledo employee at the Early Learning Center is graduating from University College with a bachelor’s degree in an individualized program of early childhood education and educational leadership. Her son is graduating from the College of Engineering with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering technology.

“I am proud to share this special moment with my oldest son,” Boyer said. “It’s important to me to prove to all of my children that you can accomplish anything no matter what point you are in life. I accomplished something I set out to do a long time ago, and it has the potential to take me in different directions in my career.”

Fall commencement also is a family affair for a brother-and-sister duo who worked side by side as undergraduates in the same exercise biology research lab.

Nicole and Dylan Sarieh

Dylan and Nicole Sarieh, two-thirds of a set of fraternal triplets, both chose to study exercise science as pre-med students in the College of Health and Human Services, while their brother studies business at UToledo.

Together, Dylan and Nicole researched the molecular regulation of skeletal muscle growth under the guidance of Dr. Thomas McLoughlin, associate professor in the School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, in order to help clinicians develop ways to help patients grow stronger after suffering from muscle loss.

“The opportunity to do real, meaningful, hands-on work in the lab definitely built our confidence and opened our eyes to what is important,” Dylan said about his undergraduate research experience. “My sister and I both plan to next go to medical school. She wants to be a dermatologist, and I want to be a general physician.”

“Whether at home, in the classroom or in the lab, I always had someone I could lean on who was tackling the same challenges,” Nicole said. “Putting our two brains together — even during car rides — made a big difference in our success.”

For some graduates, they found love and are starting their own family.

McKenna Wirebaugh completed a co-op at the BP Whiting Refinery in Whiting, Ind. This photo shows Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.

McKenna Wirebaugh, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, met her soon-to-be husband at UToledo. Both she and Travis Mang, her fiancé, will receive degrees Saturday.

Turns out, planning their upcoming wedding is the only item left on the to-do list. Wirebaugh secured a full-time job as a process engineer at BP’s Cherry Point Refinery in Blaine, Wash., located about 40 minutes south of Vancouver. She is scheduled to start her new job in March, about a month after her honeymoon.

“I chose to go to UToledo because of the mandatory co-op program in engineering,” Wirebaugh said. “It guaranteed I would have a paycheck while in school and build my resumé. I’m grateful for my decision because it ended up launching my career.”

Wirebaugh completed four co-op rotations with BP while at UToledo. She also helped build a water purification unit that was sent to Ecuador through the nonprofit organization Clean Water for the World.

Her favorite experience as a student in the Jesup Scott Honors College was a class focusing on creativity. For a group project on the dangers of cell-phone use, they brought in a PlayStation 2 system and challenged students to text and drive on Mario Kart without crashing.

“My professors have truly cared about me inside and outside of my academic career,” Wirebaugh said. “I don’t see the friendships I’ve made here ending anytime soon.”

In the event of inclement weather, the approximately two-hour commencement ceremonies will be moved to Sunday, Dec. 15.

For those unable to attend, the ceremonies will stream live at video.utoledo.edu.

For more information, go to the UToledo commencement website.

UToledo Engineering Students to Present Senior Design Projects Dec. 6

Designing smarter traffic lights. Restoring farmlands to wetlands. Printing 3D violins so students in low-income and remote areas have access to instruments.

These are just a few examples of projects UToledo engineering students will present to the public at the Senior Design Expo. The event will take place Friday, Dec. 6, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Nitschke Hall and the Brady Center at The University of Toledo.

As part of required senior design/capstone projects, about 60 UToledo engineering teams worked with local businesses, industries and federal agencies to help solve technical and business challenges. Students will present their final prototypes, provide hands-on demonstrations, and answer questions about their experiences at the expo.

Caroline Shipman’s five-member team worked on the violin project with the Toledo Symphony and music director Alain Trudel. The group developed and printed a 3D violin, composed of five parts. They wanted the violin to “be as easy to assemble as a Lego kit,” said Shipman, a mechanical engineering senior who will graduate in December.

Shipman has played violin for more than 15 years and says she was excited to combine her passions for STEM and music on the project. The 3D violin costs about $150, as opposed to a starter violin that usually costs $400.

“It was awesome to see it go from concept to holding a physical prototype in your hands,” she said. “To give access to a child who didn’t think they could play an instrument — who knows? One day they could become a concert master.”

Engineers are problem-solvers at heart. The challenges the UToledo students tried to solve with their senior projects could make life easier for manufacturers, homeowners, those with disabilities, and anyone who drives a car. Many of their projects address timely issues such as school security or environmental problems, along with a host of other topics that include:

• Helping the Toledo Zoo recycle grey water created by its splash pad;

• Designing goggles to aid in the remote diagnosis of strokes;

• Creating an immersive training tool to help users learn how to defend against cyber threats;

• Building a fishing rod that will allow a man with limited arm mobility pursue his passion; and

• Designing a speaker/microphone system for a woman with ALS to use near or under an oxygen mask so people can hear her better.

The expo also will feature a high school design competition from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Nitschke Auditorium.

Some UToledo and high school projects address autonomous vehicles. The vehicles have been a focus of a number of events sponsored by the College of Engineering throughout 2019. The final Technology Takes the Wheel program will be held in conjunction with the Senior Design Expo.

The seventh event in the seminar series will take place Friday, Dec. 6, from 8 to 10 a.m. in Nitschke Auditorium. The “Preparing Your Workforce for the Future” panel discussion will be moderated by WTVG reporter Lissa Guyton and feature representatives from AAA, SSOE Group and Sinclair Community College. A Tesla will be the featured on-stage vehicle, and attendees will hear from Dr. Jack Marchbanks, director of the Ohio Department of Transportation, and Rich Granger, managing director of workforce development for DriveOhio.

Attendees are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys for the annual Hope for the Holidays campaign. UToledo is partnering with 13abc Action News and the Salvation Army. Rocky and Rocksy will be there to collect donations.

Engineering Students to Compete in National Cybersecurity Competition

The University of Toledo’s new engineering team called the Cyber Rockets will face off against more than 100 teams of college students across the country in the U.S. Department of Energy’s fifth annual CyberForce Competition.

The tournament, which tests cybersecurity skills through the defense of critical infrastructure, is happening simultaneously at 10 national labs Saturday, Nov. 16.

Members of the Cyber Rockets are, from left, Medha Pujari, Ph.D. student in computer science and engineering; Akshay Mathur, Ph.D. student in computer science and engineering; Allen R. Williams, senior in computer science engineering and mathematics with a minor in economics; Brian McKenzie, senior in computer science and engineering technology; and Junhui Xiao, M.S. student in computer science and engineering.

The Cyber Rockets, made up of five UToledo engineering students, will travel to Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois to defend a simulated energy company’s network against professionally executed cyberattacks and prevent hackers from compromising any information.

The University’s participation in the competition comes after the U.S. Department of Energy selected UToledo to host National Lab Day, which last month connected students and researchers with preeminent scientists from world-class facilities across the country to explore opportunities for partnerships.

Preparing for UToledo’s debut in the tournament is the main focus for Cyber Rockets Team Captain Brian McKenzie, who doesn’t have to stress out about finding a full-time job after he graduates next month since he already has one lined up through his co-op with a company that creates navigational software for the Army.

“We are excited for this opportunity to learn and meet new people,” McKenzie, a senior studying computer science and engineering technology, said. “We have been researching the kinds of equipment and software the ‘energy company’ might use. It’s going to be a challenging exercise and a fun experience overall.”

The scenarios present teams with the challenge of not only defending one of four pieces of an energy system — an energy company’s solar generation facility, electric substation, data center or manufacturing plant — but communicating with the other three infrastructures to monitor and maintain the integrity of the system as a whole.
Scoring includes a team’s ability to balance security with the need to continue normal work operations.

The scenarios look at real-world constraints and lifelike anomalies, such as no budget for maintenance or upkeep, deficiency in understanding the system’s needs, website defacement, business meetings, and lack of permission controls.

“We have been familiarizing ourselves with the Energy Department’s workflow and system,” said Medha Pujari, a UToledo Ph.D. student studying computer science and engineering. “I am thankful for the opportunity to be a member of this team and have the chance to implement our skills.”

“We are happy to be able to recruit and build our Cyber Rockets team from multiple programs in the College of Engineering,” said Dr. Weiqing Sun, associate professor of computer science and engineering technology, and faculty advisor of the Cyber Rockets. “With the newly established master’s programs in cybersecurity and cybersecurity graduate certificate program, we expect that UToledo will have a continuously strong presence in future CyberForce Competitions.”

UToledo Awarded Federal Grant to Train Teenagers in Cybersecurity

From hackers to cyberbullies, cybercriminals are increasingly targeting technology-hungry teenagers.

To combat the growing problem, the National Science Foundation awarded The University of Toledo College of Engineering a three-year, $267,742 grant to teach local high school students about the risks and threats associated with smartphones, tablets and other technology, as well as provide cybersecurity training to encourage careers in computer science and cybersecurity.

Javaid

“The cybersecurity landscape is changing fast, and due to the ubiquitous information on the internet, the enemies of the state are more dangerous and advanced than ever,” said Dr. Ahmad Javaid, assistant professor in the UToledo Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; director of the Paul A. Hotmer Cybersecurity and Teaming Research Lab; and project leader. “We need to train the future workforce to prepare them for what’s to come and protect the nation.”

The plan calls for a summer camp setting and using interactive, animated visualizations to help students understand cybersecurity threats, defense and prevention mechanisms.

If the project aimed at creating a safer cyber environment is successful locally, the new high school cybersecurity curriculum could be adopted nationwide.

UToledo is collaborating with Purdue University Northwest (PNW) on the research. The National Science Foundation awarded PNW about $230,000, bringing the total funding for the project to nearly half a million dollars.

Welcome to ‘The Jungle’: Department of Theatre and Film to Stage Adaptation of Novel

The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film will present “The Jungle,” an award-winning adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s novel, written and directed by Matt Foss, UToledo assistant professor of theatre.

Performances will take place Friday through Sunday, Nov. 8-10 and 15-17, in the Center for Performing Arts Center Theatre. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Sunday shows are at 2 p.m.

Sinclair’s landmark novel, written in 1906, exposed the appalling working conditions of immigrants employed in Chicago’s meat-packing industry. Originally written to shed light on issues surrounding workers, immigrants and the growing income disparity in America, Sinclair commented that he aimed for the public’s heart, but ultimately only “hit it in the stomach.”

The book prompted transformative changes throughout the industry and led to the development of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but had little to no effect on immigration, poverty or workers’ rights.

The production features a large cast who stream over a three-story set, using printmaking techniques to create a turn-of-the-century packinghouse. Extensive choreography created by Abby Glanville, academic advisor in the College of Arts and Letters — along with design and technical work by Drew Parmelee, senior film/video major, associate sound designer; Kelly McBane, lecturer of theatre, costume shop manager; Stephen Sakowski, assistant professor of theatre, lighting and sound designer; Daniel Thobias, associate professor of theatre, production designer; and Nathaniel White, assistant lecturer of theatre, technical director and scene shop manager — create a dynamic, 90-minute telling of this classic novel.

Foss adapted and directed Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” for Oracle Productions in Chicago in 2014. That production received Chicago Jeff Award Nominations for outstanding production, director, ensemble, and won for best new adaptation.

The cast features Jordyn Beery, sophomore theatre major; Maggie Carder, freshman media communications major; Erin Coyne, sophomore theatre major; Emily Damschroder, sophomore theatre major; Jeffery Enck, freshman theatre design and technology major; Dona Gamblin, freshman theatre major; Sarena Jackson, 2019 UToledo theatre alumna; Shaquira Jackson, senior theatre major; Maya Kinney, freshman theatre major; Andrew R. Kleopfer, senior theatre major; Ben Kunec, sophomore theatre and communication double major; Becca Lustic, senior theatre major; Olivia Manias, junior creative writing major; Grace E. Mulinix, Toledo Early College High School senior and UToledo theatre major; Faith E. Murphy, senior theatre major; Alexandria Rayford-West, junior creative writing and theatre double major; Victoria Rinker, senior theatre major; Ezekiel Roberts, Toledo Early College High School junior and UToledo theatre major; Dillon Sickels, sophomore theatre major; Alec Simon. sophomore theatre major; Eve Smith, sophomore theatre major; Charlotte Vaughn, theatre major; and Kyle Yerg, senior philosophy and literature double major.

Members of the design team are Holly Monsos, interim chair of the Department of Theatre and Film, producer; Katelyn Justice, sophomore theatre major, paint charge; Matthew Kerr, electrical engineering major, assistant lighting designer; Addison Toth, sophomore theatre major, stage manager; Jared Kaplan, freshman political science major, and Elise Pahl, junior, theatre design and technology major, assistant stage managers; Christopher M. Montpetit, lecturer of theatre, theatre/production manager; and Imani Hudson, junior theatre major, house manager.

Tickets are $10 for students; $12 for UToledo faculty, staff and alumni, and military members and seniors; and $18 for the general public. Call 419.530.ARTS (2787) or go to the School of Visual and Performing Arts’ website. Tickets also will be available at the door.

Students Win Problem-Solving Competition With New Tire-Pressure Technology

A team of students from The University of Toledo College of Engineering’s Maker Society won first place in the Lawrence Technological University’s Innovation Encounter, a competition infusing creativity and challenge into an entrepreneurial boot camp.

Teams from UToledo, the University of Michigan, Rowan University, Ohio Northern University and Lawrence Technological University were tasked with solving a real-world problem: Improve driver safety by combating loss of tire pressure.

UToledo students received the top prize at the Lawrence Technological University’s Innovation Encounter. They are, from left, Teran Ericksen, Stephen Netter, Charles Wade, Breanne Crockett and Julian Taylor.

Eaton Corp. and its automotive group, which sponsored the event, chose the challenge because the vast majority of drivers have unsafe tire pressure, resulting in more than 11,000 accidents and 200 deaths each year.

The challenge had one major stipulation: The solution must cost less than $200 per vehicle.
UToledo’s team chose to focus on educating and incentivizing people to maintain their own tire pressure.

The students developed a $30 electronic device a user can install on the vehicle that reports when tire pressure is low. The technology communicates with a smartphone app to explain how to fill the tire up with air on the specific make and model of the vehicle, show the location of nearby tire-filling stations, and give recommendations on air compressors for purchase. The app also works with the device to detect when a car skids or loses traction due to low tire pressure and sends a notification to the driver instructing him or her on how to fix it.

At the Oct. 18-19 competition, the team used a 3-D printer to create the device and designed the app.

“We were able to deliver a solution that the judges had no idea existed,” said Charles Wade, president of the UToledo Maker Society and a junior majoring in computer science and engineering. “This is a problem that Eaton and the industry as a whole have been working on for more than 100 years, and they are pleased that our team was able to deliver new ideas to the problem space.”

UToledo Alumna Powering Opportunity for Minorities in Tech

Irma Olguin Jr. is an unlikely tech leader, building a technology ecosystem in an equally unlikely place.

As the co-founder and chief executive officer of Bitwise Industries in Fresno, Calif., Olguin is one of the leading forces in an effort to revive underdog cities by building a robust — and inclusive — technology sector.

Irma Olguin Jr., a 2004 UToledo graduate, is the co-founder and CEO of Bitwise Industries in Fresno, Calif.

Collectively, the company has redeveloped 250,000 square feet of space in downtown Fresno, created 2,000 jobs, and trained more than 4,000 computer coders.

Bitwise recently secured $27 million in investor funding, allowing it to continue its growth in Fresno and expand to a new market in Bakersfield, Calif.

That kind of success was far from the future Olguin imagined herself having as a teenager growing up in a small town near Fresno in California’s Central Valley.

“I grew up the daughter of farm laborers. In my head, I was going to be the daughter of farm laborers for the rest of my life,” she said. “I didn’t expect college to be part of my story.”

After scoring exceptionally well on the PSAT, however, scholarship offers began rolling in. One offer in particular stood out for how comprehensive and supportive it was. At 17, Olguin scraped together money for a Greyhound ticket, packed her bags, and left California for the first time to begin classes at The University of Toledo College of Engineering.

“For many, going off to college might be obvious or second nature, but it was certainly not the case for me or my family. How am I going to eat, where am I going to live? The University of Toledo provided a great deal of that in the scholarship package, and it allowed me to whittle down the number of issues I had to worry about.”

Her experience at UToledo changed her life.

Irma Olguin Jr. stands outside Bitwise Industries in Fresno, Calif.

Olguin received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering in 2004 and returned to Fresno, where she soon entrenched herself not only as one of the area’s technology pioneers, but one with a mission.

“The technology industry has a giant need to fill jobs,” she said. “We have to do a better job of making more people capable of filling those roles, and I think the solution is looking in unlikely places.”

Following a short stint in education, Olguin co-founded 59DaysOfCode, a software development competition that, in part, was meant to show off the area’s capability and talent. The competition has since grown into a nonprofit organization promoting and fostering technology development in and around the Fresno area.

Olguin also co-founded Hashtag, the area’s first membership-based collaborative workspace, and started a successful software development company.

In 2013, she co-founded Bitwise Industries.

Bitwise is attempting to build the tech industry from multiple angles. The firm has a coding academy, a business incubator, custom software design services, a real estate development arm, and a service that matches programmers and engineers with local businesses who need tech support.

One of the key parts of Bitwise is the diversity of its coding academy. The company says more than half of its Geekwise Academy students are women or people of color.

“The technology industry as a whole has been grappling for an answer on how to build a diverse and inclusive work force and has completely fallen short,” Olguin said. “All the big names have statements saying this is a problem and we don’t know how to fix it. We think we’re sitting on the solution to that.”

And Olguin believes the true obstacles to getting more women and minorities in tech aren’t desire and aptitude — “you find those aplenty,” she said — it’s small things like a bus ticket, appropriately using email, or finding childcare.

The supportive network Olguin found at UToledo helped her unlock her own potential. Now it’s important for Olguin to help others unlock their potential.

“The University of Toledo is near and dear to my heart and played a huge role in my formative years,” Olguin said. “The College of Engineering was a really welcoming place even though I was very much in the minority in terms of gender and race. I felt very much a part of the school system and believed from day one that people were there to see us succeed.”