Alumna travels globe to lead efforts at chemical plants

Did you ever wake up, look around, and think, “Where in the world am I today?”

For Nancy Kozanecki, ChE ’90, that's a literal question on regular basis. As field services engineer for Scientific Design Company, Nancy directs start–ups and retrofits of chemical plants around the globe, mostly in smaller, outlying communities far off the usual tourist routes.

“Although language can be a barrier,” Nancy says, “we get lots of help from locals who love to practice a bit of English while also teaching the foreigner a few words in their language.

“Besides,” she says, “speaking Chinese with a southern accent often elicits too much laughter and shaking of heads. I’m better off with charades.”

Nancy attributes her success as a plant engineer to the hands–on education she gained at Trine as well as the career guidance she received from instructors such as Paul Rumps. “He took a real interest in helping me to find the right classes and the right career path, a path which has enabled me to travel all over the world.”

Despite her extensive travels, Nancy remains engaged in her community. In 2009, she co–founded Pet Hub Animal Rescue in Pearland, Texas. Although Pet Hub’s focus is to help four–legged members of the community, Pet Hub does a lot for two–legged members, too.

Pet Hub offers pet sterilization services for low–income pet owners, free microchips, a PETS411 service to help reunite lost critters with their families, and an adoption program.

Pet Hub also sponsors initiatives such as Project PASS (Pearlanders Assisting with Schools Supplies); Share Your Holiday and Operation Twin Sheets (providing bed linens for active military personnel).

“My travels make me realize how fortunate I am,” says Nancy, the organization's secretary–treasurer. “It just feels good to do something for others in our community.”

Nancy carries her philanthropic spirit into the field, too. She has organized raffles and collections in Mexico for a co–worker’s niece who was diagnosed with cancer and brings gifts to a plant worker’s disabled 3–year–old son. During an extended stay at her company’s headquarters in New Jersey, she helped found HIKE for Mental Health. The nonprofit raises money for scientific research into the causes and treatments of major mental illness, which affects 1 of 4 American families. “We raised more than $10,000 in our first year,” she says with pride.

While Nancy is always glad to return to the U.S. after her travels, she confesses that leaving these far–away places can be difficult because of the relationships forged. Memories of a local plant engineer, a food vendor, a woman who serves breakfast every morning at the hotel or a man who convinces her dance with him in the town square — these all remain in her heart long after the job at the plant is complete.

Family Ties

Family ties are not unusual at Trine, but one family has woven more of a web at Tri–State.

Leslie Schudel and Jake Wilson, both Tri–State graduates who met on campus, were married Aug. 18 at Pokagon State Park, in Angola. Some members of their bridal party are also Tri–State alumni and Leslie′s parents also attended.

Leslie was first on campus as an infant during her dad′s senior year, 1986–′87 when her parents, Brad and Lori Schudel, lived in married housing. Brad, a 1987 electrical engineering major, attended Tri–State from 1984 to 1987 and played baseball all four years. Lori, too, attended Tri–State from 1984 to 1985. And, Lori′s grandfather, Vernon Brillhart, attended Tri–State. His family said he was a teacher and according to family history he earned his degree in two years.

On an athletic path similar to her father′s, Leslie was a member of the softball team for four years from 2004 to 2008. During that time, she met Sara Miles, a 2009 criminal justice major, and Lauren Hudson, a 2009 finance major, both of whom also played softball. All three women were members of Tri–State′s first Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship team in 2007. And, the two friends were also in Leslie and Jake′s wedding.

Jake′s best man, Kacey Berberich is a 2008 mechanical engineering major.

Leslie majored in business management and serves as the financial coordinator for the city of Three Rivers, Mich. Jake, an engineering management major and member of Sigma Phi Delta fraternity, is a quality engineer at Ideal Pro CNC in Churubusco. They reside in LaGrange with their dog, Elvis. While their Elvis is not the king of rock ′n′ roll, he is Leslie′s pride and joy.

Alumnus Turns from R&D to Art

Ron Artman turns to art after career in R&D. He encourages fellow alums to find jobs they love.

It′s no wonder that despite moving to Fort Wayne and then joining the United States Marine Corp, Angola native Ron Artman chose to attend Tri–State College in 1969. His father was a professor in electrical engineering at Tri–State and Ron spent his days as an Angola local at Johnny′s; he even saw his first jet on campus, in the old aeronautical building.

Artman graduated from Tri–State in 1972 with a degree in business administration. After graduation, he worked in research and development for companies such as RCA, Lear Jet Avionics and Sperry Simulators. He left the R&D sector to start his own screen printing and design company in Washington, D.C. During this time, he did screen printing for nearly every 5k and 10k race in the DC area.

In 1988, Artman sold his screen printing business to escape the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C. He moved to Australia where he studied art at the Tafe School in Alice Springs.

Artman is a now a successful sculptor living in Hebron, Md. His art is on display all over the United States, and internationally. He has had pieces displayed at SOFA (Sculpture Objects and Functional Art) Chicago, Palm Beach 3 and the Baltimore American Craft Council Winter Show.

Ron says the highlight of being an artist is being able to travel where his art goes. He said he enjoys visiting with the people he meets at shows; while everyone has their respective professions, the common bond of art brings them all together.

Artman′s advice to current students is to learn math. He uses geometry every day and wishes that he would have spent more time learning a2+b2=c2. He encourages fellow alumni not to take a job because of the money, but instead to find something they would enjoy doing.

For more information on Ron Artman Studio, visit or find Ron on LinkedIn