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Shane Bendele and Hilary Johnson

“I’ve been to a four-year college. I have my master’s degree,” said Hilary Johnson. “Columbus State helped me more than any of my other degrees have helped me.”

Despite having a master’s degree in marketing, Johnson got laid off during the economic crisis of 2008. She went back to school, seeking a way to set herself apart in a competitive job market. She found Mechanical Engineering and Prof. Shane Bendele.

Bendele is easygoing, but he expects students to do work, Johnson says. And she found he’s been a great advocate for her career.

Bendele’s classes appealed to her artistic side as well as her craftsman side. For one assignment, she designed a flash drive case with Computer Aided Design (CAD), printing it out with a 3D printer, and used it in a working flash drive. She built her flash drive in the form of a tulip and took it on job interviews.

“Engineering is like a puzzle. You have to be able to look at every different aspect and figure out how it goes together,” Johnson says. “You have to like to solve things. And you feel really rewarded at the end of your day.”

Using contacts from Columbus State, Johnson got a job at a startup manufacturing company called Fabrisonic LLC. The company has developed a method that is a form 3D metal printing using ultrasonic welding. The Fabrisonic process can create complex components that have unique features and attributes not possible with traditional manufacturing techniques.

“My particular company is only three years old. There’s no manual for this process,” Johnson said. “Going to Columbus State gave me that base that I needed to be able to build off that and further my career.”

With only four people in the company, Johnson gets to use all of her skills, from CAD design to her original marketing background.

Bendele never planned to be a college professor. He wasn’t initially planning to go to college. He trained as a machinist at a vocational high school in Findlay and got a job after graduation. A supervisor urged him to add some skills at Rhodes State College, and a professor there urged him to go on to get a bachelor’s degree from Ohio Northern University.

“Once I graduated from Ohio Northern, I was done. That was more college than I ever imagined,” Bendele said. “Then my advisor at Ohio Northern dragged me to Ohio State, kicking and screaming.”

He was recruited to teach at Columbus State, and has been here ever since.

Bendele says he focuses on skills rather than grades, and brings real-world conditions into his classroom. Students learn CAD drawing in his class and how to print objects with a 3D printer – but also how to cut and machine metal into useful tools. Students learn how to build what they can imagine.

Mechanical Engineering feeds directly into Advanced Manufacturing, which is making a comeback in Ohio. Bendele’s grads are in high demand to design new industrial processes and keep the machines humming.

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