Campbell advising, advancing,
companies' software programs
April 20, 1998
Just about all one needs to know about the study habits and work ethic of Kelly Campbell, a seventh-semester senior majoring in mechanical engineering, is that one of her goals for next semester is to get at least six hours sleep each night. She is usually far too busy for that.
"Next semester is going to be a life-decider," Campbell says, contemplating what will be her final term at UConn. "I have three more engineering courses to finish, and I'd really love to squeeze in another physiology course, but at this point, my last semester, I have to start thinking about my career, weigh my offers, go to some interviews," she explains.
That's going to be tough, because one thing Campbell doesn't have on her resume is anything resembling free time. Although she still has a semester to go, Campbell has already earned 133 credits - not counting the 15 she'll pick up for the current semester - which barely leaves time for her work as president of the National Society of Black Engineers, or as an undergraduate teaching assistant for the School of Engineering. Then there's her work as a judicial body member of the University Committee on Student Conduct, and her efforts on behalf of UConn and the engineering school as a student representative, presenting talks at open houses or socials. Or her activities on behalf of the enrollment management office, calling top high school students to urge them to attend UConn.
"I like to keep busy," she says.
Campbell, who graduated second in her class of 177 at Bloomfield High School, came to UConn as a Day of Pride scholarship winner, awarded to the top 15 minority high school seniors in the state. A National Merit Scholarship finalist, she sings the praises of UConn, the School of Engineering, and the school's Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Program, which hooks up top engineering students with freshmen enrolled in introductory engineering courses.
"I really, really like this program," says Campbell. "The first thing they do is start a project. It's very hands-on. And each project has little pieces of all the engineering disciplines - mechanical, civil, electrical - they get a little background on everything, and it really helps you see where everything you have to study fits in, why you need to know about equations, where the calculus or study of thermodynamics fit in. Plus, it gives them an idea, while they're still freshmen, about what engineering is, and whether they're going to like it, or if they should switch majors right there."
Campbell says if she had had more information about the disciplines earlier in her career at the University, she might have leaned toward other interests - sport and leisure studies, physical therapy or fitness training.
"I'd love to design some new fitness equipment," she says. "Ultimately, I'd like to have my own fitness center, using my own fitness equipment." She doesn't mean bought and paid for, either, she means equipment that she designed herself.
For now, though, Campbell is content to finish school, and work for three or four years before returning to school for a master's degree in business, to learn about running a company.
She has already been offered a job at Praxair in Buffalo, N.Y., where she worked as an intern for the past few summers analyzing, among other things, whether the firm was getting its money's worth out of a computer program that told officials what size pipes they should use when constructing new plants - the firm "sells air," nitrogen and oxygen mixes, for instance, to hospitals and research-based companies.
Campbell not only analyzed Praxair's program, she built a new, improved version, one that could be used - and understood - in company presentations, whether to laymen's groups or researchers. Besides designing it, Campbell also made a series of presentations about her program to the firm's directors, trained the company's engineers in its use, and wrote a manual for it.
At UConn, she is involved in a senior design project, commissioned by ABB Corp., investigating whether a $20,000 piece of software used by ABB is actually acquiring correct results. The software is used by most of the industry and is so user-friendly that UConn is considering using it to enhance its undergraduate and graduate courses in fluid dynamics.
If she keeps going this way, it wouldn't be surprising if the next time UConn buys something with Campbell's imprimatur, it will be great new fitness equipment. Hers.