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Reece Ishihara

Reece Ishihara

Alumnus, Class of 2017

Why did you choose this program (major)?

I chose Mechanical Engineering because I have always had a passion for cars. When I was young, I used to play with toy cars like Hot Wheels and Matchbox. As I got older, I was more fascinated with the history channel and shows like Modern Marvels rather than trending shows of my time. At one point, I had the grand idea of designing my own car and decided to pursue engineering. Although I think I was a little naïve in thinking I could build and design my own car, I am still motivated to help design at least a part of a mainstream car so that as one drives by, I can say, "Hey, I helped design that".

Why did you decide to join TOP?

When I made the decision to come to Oregon Tech, I was about to uproot myself from the comforts of home. Not being a social butterfly also made it hard for me to make friends. Therefore, my mom found out about the TOP program and the benefits it provides.

The one thing that I was hesitant about was the TOP Bridge program, which allowed TOP students to move into their rooms a week before the start of classes. At first, this terrified me as it meant that I had a week less at home. However, it turned out to be the best decision I made. Not only did I get to meet the wonderful mentors and counselors within TOP, but I also got to meet other TOP students. Suddenly, I was not alone. I had a great team working with me along with a pool of students who later became friends of mine. Thus, the reason I joined TOP was to be a step ahead of others and to break out of my social shell a bit. I knew that I would not have gotten through college without the guidance and wisdom of the TOP counselors.

Is there anything about Oregon Tech that you wish everyone knew about?

Oregon Tech is not just an engineering school. People I have talked to assume that just because we have the word “tech” in our name, it must be an engineering school. However, the reality is that Oregon Tech has a diverse campus with medical, business, psychology, writing, and engineering disciplines. The small class size enhances the ability to learn, and the multi-disciplinary nature of Oregon Tech gives the opportunity to share similarities between disciplines as well as gain a better understanding and appreciation for other disciplines.

What is your favorite hobby, and do you have any experiences you would like to share regarding that hobby?

One of my favorite hobbies is studying car design. I love watching documentaries on famous car manufacturers like Enzo Ferrari, Horacio Pagani, Elon Musk and Christian Von Koenigsegg. What appeals to me is the engineering spirit. Most of these designers had a dream of building their own car, and they succeeded despite many hurdles and hardships.

I am especially interested in aerodynamics and how engineers are on the quest of making a car that can cut through the air like a knife. I remember watching a video on Christian Von Koenigsegg, founder of Koenigsegg, and he always said that his cars are designed to be fast but also have a certain degree of elegance and style. Horacio Pagani says that the inspiration for his company, Huayra, was an airplane wing. He wanted a car that was dynamic like the wings of an airplane during takeoff and landing.

Besides the engineering involved, most of the designers I admire in this category came from humble roots. Koenegsegg is not a trained engineer, but rather a self-taught one. Enzo Ferrari never wanted a car business but needed one to fund his addiction to racing. It is the stories and the passion of these innovators that lead the way for the best cars on the planet.

Who is your favorite professor and why?

Sean Sloan is my favorite professor because I believe he is an engineer who has broken the status quo of engineering. He tries to explain complex concepts in creative ways rather than “beating” you with a book. He believes that while getting the right answer is great, the process of solving a problem is worth more. Try to ask professor Sloan about engineering ideas and maybe some abstract ones as well, and you could find yourself enveloped in the conversation and lose sense of time. Professor Sloan is very helpful, and I am sure I am not alone when I say that he is my favorite professor.