September 07, 2017, BY Matt Hughes

Dan Hawtof speaks to students
Dan Hawtof '88, a senior research associate with Corning Inc, speaks to a Bucknell engineering senior design team.

Alumnus Dan Hawtof '88, a senior research associate with Corning Inc, returned to Bucknell Sept. 1 to meet the engineering students he'll work closely with on a real-world product-development project over the next year, and to share insights with the campus from his nearly three decades in engineering research.

Hawtof's company, a major glass and ceramics manufacturer, this year is sponsoring three senior design projects — signature experiences of a Bucknell engineering education that challenge undergraduates to develop and refine products with applications beyond the University. "I hope this thing you're developing will be used for the next decade," Hawtof told one design team. "Someone might be using it every day."

Hawtof challenged the senior design team to think creatively and plan ahead to help Corning achieve real-world design goals. Photo by Emily Paine, Division of Communications

He challenged the team to think  creatively about their project — which concerns a manufacturing process for making super-thin sheets of glass — while also providing technical guidelines, budget advice and important safety tips for working with equipment that can reach extremely high temperatures. "Try to step back and think through all of the different potential contradictions and problems that can arise before you start down a road," Hawtof said. "What I'm showing you is just one way of doing things — use your creativity."

Corning is one of a growing number of external clients — around 20 this year — who add realism of the senior design experience by providing authentic industrial problems for students to solve. Hawtoff, along with representatives from interdisciplinary senior design sponsors Procter & Gamble, Medtronic and Keurig Green Mountain, kicked off this year's senior design program by not only meeting with teams but by leading a series of Get to Know the Real World lunch lectures, where the company insiders offered tips for young engineers.

Learn more about professional development opportunities in the College of Engineering here.