Engineering school hosts annual banquet


Myki Dee Kim, Staff Writer


The walls of the Norman Worthington Conference Center were lined with exemplary capstone projects from Engineering and Computer Science students during the 68th annual Engineering Banquet. The event took place on Friday, Feb. 21. Those in attendance included current students, alumni, faculty, staff, trustees, members of the abbey, and cabinet members. 

Attendees were able to reconnect with one another, network in the community, and examine the projects that were displayed around the room that evening. The annual event was not only a celebration of academic and professional success, but also the 50th anniversary of Saint Martin’s engineering accreditation. 

David Olwell, Ph.D., Dean of The Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering, opened the event by welcoming all in attendance and acknowledging those who were not able to join in celebration that evening. Olwell was honored to explain the multiple highlights of the Engineering and Computer Science departments that took place since the last Engineering Banquet. These highlights included the works of the Engineering and Computer Science honor societies, the hosting of two regional conferences in April 2019; American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), as well as Mechanical Engineering faculty presenting half a dozen papers at conferences in the fall. 

As his opening remarks progressed, Olwell stressed the importance of community within the School of Engineering and beyond. 

While meeting with prospective students and their families, Olwell noted that he confidently tells them how students would be joining a community with a strong multigenerational bond. The community aspect lives within the school, as many alumni find ways to stay connected with the Engineering and Computer Science departments. 

Though a ticketed event, many students had the cost of their attendance sponsored by alumni, faculty, and staff, so students could enjoy the evening without worrying about admission fees.

For the past three years, the Engineering and Computer Science departments have worked closely with Thurston County, the City of Lacey, and the Port of Olympia, to build an educational infrastructure. 

The school has seen the importance and skill level of students’ capstone projects, and the opportunity for the commercialization of their phenomenal work. 

It is the school’s hope that students not only complete their capstone projects to receive a degree, but they also finish prototyping their designs, finalize them, and find support to start a business. These capstone projects are seen as stepping-stones to a student’s future success. 

The intersection of the real world and the educational world offers the chance of great success for many individuals. 

Such is one of the philosophies of this year’s Engineering banquet keynote speaker, Craig Rabin. Rabin spent hours on campus leading up to the event talking to students and community members about his story in his entrepreneurial journey to ultimate success with his product: the Airhook. 

The Airhook is an airline travel necessity that connects to a closed tray table and holds varying objects, including drinks, and even coats. A portion of every Airhook sale is donated to cancer research in honor of Rabin’s mother. The invention of the Airhook came after several different business ventures led him to his current success. His dynamic speech touched on several sides of being an inventor and entrepreneur; including legality, financial decision making, marketing, creativity, and most importantly, determination. 

Rabin noted that he never saw his past ventures as failures, but ways to improve his ideas. Having the ability to talk to people from various walks of life is what he truly enjoys. His hope was that the speech he gave would touch at least one person in the audience, and encourage them to pursue a venture that they see as the key to their success. 

During his address, Rabin noted the Lacey MakerSpace is just on the edge of campus. He greatly admires the work done by Joseph Anderson and his team to bring together not just Saint Martin’s, but the entire Thurston County community. Out of all the college campuses that Rabin has visited, he noted that he had not seen anything quite as unique as the Lacey MakerSpace. He highly encourages students to take advantage of the resources at the MakerSpace with all of their innovative ideas.  

Students attending the event were excited for all the festivities of the evening. Civil Engineering senior, Russel Larsen, shared how he hoped the event would help him in his future career, by allowing him to network and learn about his future through the eyes of a current civil engineer.

Similar to Larsen, senior Mechanical Engineering students, Kyle Bambauer and Joshua Schwartzlow, were excited for the networking opportunities within the industry, and the conversations leading to potential internships and job offers. 

After an evening of networking, great conversation, delicious food, and listening to the keynote speaker, Bambauer noted, “It was awesome to hear inspiring stories of entrepreneurship and success… it was interesting to hear about hands on real world experiences.”

Schwartzlow continued and said, “Tonight was good, the presenter talked about relevant prototyping and testing experiences which will be inspiring take to the next step.” 

The annual Engineering Banquet continues to welcome members both, new and old, to the Engineering and Computer Science world and celebrates the works that are contributed to society. This multigenerational community stands together to encourage and learn from real world and educational experiences. With the unconditional support of Olwell, the university, and the community, The Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering prides itself on not only the academic achievements of its students, but also the contributions they offer the world in pursuit of making it a better place. 




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