Dreams Taking Flight: Dominic Russo With the Akron Aero Design Team

By Jacob Rude

Senior Dominic Russo’s internship at The University of Akron reflects his eccentric soul and eclectic personality. He was finally able to obtain his internship after contacting fifteen other companies, where none attempted to work with him or even respond to him. His brother, Robert Russo, himself a Bio-Med alumnus, helped Dominic out by asking some of his friends on The University of Akron Aero Design Team if his younger brother could be an intern there, to which they agreed. Russo the younger then got in contact with the team himself, and the members of UAADT loved the idea of having him on board. 

The Aero Design Team is a competition design team for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Design/Build/Fly subdivision, which Dominic describes in this way: “Each year an organization gives rules to a competition that is designed to be impossible in many ways, but it’s real-world problems that companies are trying to solve.” He said, for example, that last year they had to build a scale model bomber designed for an aircraft carrier. This year they have to design a passenger plane that can take off in a very short distance, have a small profile, and have much more power than it necessarily has any reason to have. To test it, they had to carry as many “passengers,” as possible, with passengers being replicated by four-ounce payloads, as well as trail a banner that is as big as possible. According to Russo, the main challenge for the team was to have the plane be able to take off in twenty feet. 

The team built its plane before Thanksgiving, and invited family and friends to a field to see the first and only test flight. The week before the set date for the flight, Russo found himself sleeping on a couch across the hall from the other members of the team for four hours a night between periods of work. On the day of the test flight, they had a plane. To Russo’s surprise, it performed much better than he had thought. They were still working on the plane up until the last minute on the day of the test flight, but it exceeded all expectations. They were able to make the plane fly straight up, and still, it continued to accelerate. Instead of twenty feet, it was able to take off in just five feet. Russo said the plane’s fifteen-minute mandatory flight at full throttle could have been extended to an hour and a half in the air. 

Russo commented on watching the plane take flight for the first time: “It’s a mix of absolute terror and stress, seeing what you’ve been working on for six months in the air, knowing it’s probably not gonna come down in one piece, and just pure amazement and enjoyment seeing that knowing I built that in six days.” 

Russo is planning to attend the University of Akron this fall and looks forward to becoming an official member of the Akron Aero Design Team.

bio-med journey

Abigail Longstreth Gets her Hands Dirty with Soil and Water Conservation

By Jacob Rude

Abigail Longstreth’s senior internship is at Portage Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in Ravenna, where she is able to make connections with government officials and gain experience with environmental science. The Portage SWCD is an independent division of the Ohio Department of Agriculture that provides support for issues including soils, streams, wetlands, drainage, ponds, wildlife, plants, and forests. While her work changes day-to-day, she says she enjoys the change of pace and is grateful for all of the life skills and knowledge she is gaining. 

“I get to go outside a lot. I go on site visits with them, we drop off rain barrels; that’s one of the projects that I helped organize,” said Longstreth. 

She is interested in helping areas that are lacking in water resources: “I have a specific passion to go and help people in developing countries get water because that’s a really big problem,” said Longstreth. 

She is currently starting a project to quantify plastic waste at Bio-Med, where she is trying to find out how much plastic is recycled in proportion to how much is thrown away at the school, and hopes to expand it to other schools as well. 

“I feel like I’ve been able to make a lot of change already just through all of the stuff I’ve been doing and I’ve been given the opportunity to further what I want to do,” Longstreth said. 

Longstreth recommends that any students interested in environmental science try and get an internship at the Portage Soil and Water Conservation District: “It’s only been two months and I’ve already had so much valuable experience. They’ve been really, really accommodating with helping me accomplish my SMART goals that I set out. They’re making my goals a priority, and it’s awesome.” Longstreth is hoping to major in environmental science, but is currently undecided on a college. 

To learn more about the Portage Soil and Water Conservation District, visit portageswcd.org.

bio-med journey

Bio-Med Senior Turns Next Page with Internship

By Jacob Rude

Stephanie Ijoma’s senior internship is working with author James Renner, where she has been tasked with finding “true crime stories,” as well as supernatural stories on the social media website Reddit. Renner has written several non-fiction books as well as a few novels, mainly encompassing true crime and supernatural fiction. He started his career as a reporter and covered the story of Amy Mihaljevic, which transitioned him into the world of creative writing with his first book, Amy: My Search for Her Killer: Secrets & Suspects in the Unsolved Murder of Amy Mihaljevic. Stephanie was referred to Renner through Ms. Bates, the 11th grade language arts teacher here at Bio-Med. “We’ve known each other now for 17 years.” Ms. Bates recounted. She worked with his wife at the previous school she taught at, Coventry Highschool. Renner’s wife was the choir teacher there, and met Renner through her. Shortly after, she got in contact with him and worked out the internship. 

Renner needed help researching his new book about “scary stories on Reddit.” So far, Stephanie has scoured Reddit for qualifying stories, but her success rate has been relatively low. She said that only about one out of ten people she contacts actually gives her their information. Ijoma explained: “Basically, he gave me a little prompt of how I could practice sending messages to people, and I went through a couple Reddit threads, sent a couple letters to people, asking them if they would like to be part of the book. Then they would either say yes or no, or they just wouldn’t respond.” 

Renner currently has one of his books in the works to be adapted into a television show, as well as having a podcast called “The Philosophy of Crime.” 

Renner has one piece of advice for those students who may be interested in writing in a professional setting: “The first thing to do is to familiarize yourself with publishing, and if you want to make money at it, I would stay away from self-publishing and go the traditional route. To understand how the process really works, the best book out there is Stephen King’s On Writing. That’s a good place to start.” Stephanie hasn’t done much more than research as of yet, but says that she is looking forward to the work she will be doing later on in the process. 

Renner’s future plans for Ijoma include showing her the process of turning those stories into chapters in the book, as well as the layout, cover art, copy editing, and publishing. Ijoma talks about what she is anticipating for her future: “I’m just looking forward to learning how to write better and learning what the publishing process is like because I’ve never known what it’s like, but with this internship I have the opportunity to learn that.” 

He is also planning to have Ijoma help him finish editing his recently written gothic horror novel, as the main character is a young woman in her twenties. He hopes that Stephanie can give him some perspective regarding that character.

bio-med journey