Babies don’t wait for you to get your master’s degree. They arrive on their own schedules and change your life. Drew Arnold learned that lesson when he became a father. He also found that sleep comes in a distant third to family and education.
In 2010, he began a graduate program in mechanical engineering at Oregon State University. He wanted to work on innovative, high-risk projects that solve problems and push technology in new directions. So for his thesis, he aimed to reduce injury risk for chainsaw users. The problem is called “kickback” and happens when the tip of a fast-moving chain accidentally hits an object and lurches toward the user’s face. Chainsaw injuries now send about 36,000 Americans to the emergency room every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arnold combined a miniature gyroscope with other sensors to create a brake that would stop the chain more rapidly than the mechanical devices used on most saws today.
When baby Claire entered the world, she shifted priorities for Drew and his wife Ashleigh. Education became more than progress toward a degree and an engineering career. It became a stepping stone toward a secure future for their daughter.
Personal and professional lives overlap. Take two other examples from this issue of Terra. Ruth Milston-Clements is on-call 24/7 for the care of laboratory fish. The phone might wake her from a deep sleep or interrupt dinner for her family. Scott Ashford, an earthquake engineer, understands what will happen when the next major quake hits the Northwest. He worries about the safety of his own family as well as the future of communities across the region.
Drew Arnold now works as a product engineer for one of Oregon’s most respected manufacturers, Blount International in Portland. His job is demanding, but the Arnold family also enjoys company-sponsored Easter egg hunts, barbecues and other activities. Moreover, through the Oregon State University Advantage program, Blount sharpens its competitive edge with research by Oregon State engineers. The company’s long-term success rides on the shoulders of such partnerships and on the babies who are our future.