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Mechanical engineering professor Dr. Erik Bardy

Scuba Diving, Swing Dancing, and Mechanical Engineering: An Interview with Dr. Erik Bardy

Stereotypically on our beloved campus, it seems that the engineers just live in the Hoyt Engineering building and do homework all day. However, you could just as easily find them on the roof of the Hall of Arts and Letters, in secret tunnels underneath the Student Union, or even exploring the streets of Paris, France. There are so many opportunities for our engineers to experience tours of the engineering systems that operate our campus, as well as travel abroad with our France program. Dr. Erik Bardy serves as a tremendous resource to our students by presenting them with multiple opportunities within the diverse discipline of engineering.

Originally from Poughkeepsie, NY, Dr. Bardy studied his undergrad and Ph.D. in Buffalo, NY, but traveled abroad to France for his Master’s degree.  Bardy found Grove City College through some friends and faculty, and became interested in the possibility of a program where engineers could travel abroad. Bardy explained, “A very small percentage of mechanical engineers get to study abroad…developing international skills in cultural competence and being able to function, operate, and work in a culture where people think differently about how things should be done is important.”

Engineering is a very broad degree and there is so much that an engineering student can consider in specializing their career path. Bardy discussed, “My biased opinion is that [engineering] spans a lot. Your education will not be specialized on one area, you will be trained in a broad spectrum. There are a lot of different things you can do and you have to find your interests within that.” Within engineering, there are classes about alternative energy systems, Biomechanics, HVAC and Aerospace where students can study focuses for potential career paths. The great thing about the engineering program at Grove City College is that students stick together. Bardy said, “Very rarely will you get a non-major in an engineering class. Sometimes physics majors, but usually all engineers.”

The European Study Center is a program designed for mechanical and electrical engineers to have the opportunity to take core classes from Grove City College with Grove City students for a semester in Nantes, France. This program works with the French school ONIRIS, where our students take one course with French students to enhance their intercultural skills. Being fully bilingual and having family history in France, Dr. Bardy has traveled with students to France many times with intersession courses, and plans to take on the ONIRIS program within the next few years.

The importance of communication within engineering is something Dr. Bardy implements through his classes. “Classically you learn how to write technically – abstracts, product descriptions, presentations – and you start learning about your audience,” Bardy explains. Every senior mechanical engineer works with a team on a senior design project for their final semesters with the goal of creating and explaining things to people who do and don’t have technical backgrounds. This is great hands-on experience aside from an internship where students can get a feel for what working in the industry actually looks like.

Now you might be wondering where the scuba diving and swing dancing steps in to all of this – Dr. Bardy does have a life outside of engineering and enjoys these unique hobbies. Bardy became interested in scuba diving through his Ph.D. dissertation where he created a wetsuit designed for military use.  He also enjoys swing dancing with his wife, and can frequently be seen speaking French in the cafeteria to his younger daughter who will most likely become bilingual as well. Despite the stereotypes that may surround busy engineering students, our engineers have plenty of opportunities to use their creative skills all over the world – and sometimes they do leave Hoyt.

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