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Kevin Alexander – I AM…OC-WSU Engineering grad, former Navy diver, volunteer

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Before graduating from the WSU Engineering program in Bremerton, Kevin Alexander started his education at Olympic College. While still in the Navy, Kevin began taking classes at OC in 1995.

He attended the college off and on during his military career until 2002 – when he received his associate degree.  After getting out of the military in 2006, he went to work in the offshore gas and oil industry but was not satisfied with his direction. He did some soul-searching, explored Engineering as a career and was hooked. Around the same time, Olympic College was partnering with Washington State University on a Mechanical Engineering bachelor’s degree. Since he was living on the Kitsap Peninsula, Kevin knew the degree program would save the four hour roundtrip commute to the University of Washington. He enrolled for the Fall 2010 semester. This is his story.

Why did you originally choose OC?

I was in active duty military when I started taking classes in 1995 at OC. I had transferred out of the area, but I eventually came back to finish. I completed my associate in arts degree in 2002.

What did you do after graduating OC?

I worked for an offshore gas and oil company that did saturation diving in Louisiana. (Learn about saturation diving here.  I was a deep sea diver in the Navy for 23 years. I could no longer dive, but the company was interested in my background, and I worked in the department that handled saturation diving. I wasn’t satisfied, and I decided to go back to school.

What did you do next?

I returned to Olympic College. I took a chemistry course in 2008, and I thought at that point I would just keep going. Then I took a Trigonometry math class with Jeff Brown, an Engineering instructor at OC. I discussed the Engineering field with him and education options. At that time, I was thinking about going to a different school but Jeff set me straight (about options at OC). I brushed up on some of my courses (previously taken to get his associate in art degree) and took Engineering classes so I could transfer to the UW for its Engineering program. My intention was to apply my OC courses to the UW program and finish there. I transferred to UW in Fall 2009 and realized that I enjoyed my courses much more at Olympic College – the classes in Math and Science at OC were top-notch. I returned to Olympic College the following semester because this is where I needed to be.

How did you find out the WSU Mechanical Engineering bachelor’s program at OC? What has the program been like for you?

While I was at OC, engineering students heard the chatter. When WSU said the degree program was a go, I applied and got in. There were some technical issues to be figured out at first (with classes being streamed), but WSU bent over backward to fix them. For my senior project, I worked with five other students on engineering a battery management system. We are planning to file a patent for our design. The program has been a god send. Everyone in my WSU classes has a story of appreciation. I will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and walk in graduation ceremonies at WSU in Pullman in early May 2012.

Can you share a little about your personal background?

I enjoy experiencing new and different things. I spent 24 years in the Navy. I moved around a lot and lived in many different places: Georgia, Florida, California, Hawaii, and Washington. I’ve been all around the world, including the South Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Korea, and Japan.

I am very active in my church as a volunteer and I am proud of my children. My daughter recently completed taking classes at OC and will be transferring to WSU to study Civil Engineering. She is doing really well. My son has just been selected for the Navy diver program and will start this summer. He has also attended OC.

How has OC inspired you?

The professors have inspired me because they really care. Dr. Jeff Brown, OC Engineering instructor; Linnea Hess, OC Physics instructor; James Howell, OC Math instructor; Jason Heinze, OC Math instructor; Shawn Triplett, OC Math instructor; Dr. Marvin Pitts, WSU Engineering professor. They have spent the time and effort to make the WSU Mechanical Engineering program work at OC. It’s evident. You can see everything they do is over and above.

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