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Craig Howald and Evan Saribalas

Imagine being encouraged to bring your wildest ideas to life. At Marietta College, students are prepared and inspired to pursue their passions through hands-on research and creative projects that let their innovation shine.

Just ask Evan Saribalas ’24 (New Albany, Ohio), an Applied Physics major who recently built an impressive hydraulic flume system to test the efficiency of rowing oars. Testing his capstone project, he flipped a switch, then watched with pride as 50 gallons of water rushed through the 2-meter flume he designed and constructed.

With his system’s 5,000-gallon-per-hour flow rate, Evan can now research how oar geometry affects performance — pursuing his curiosity as a scientist naturally does. Evan is among hundreds of MC students unveiling discoveries and creative projects at Marietta’s annual All Scholars Day on Thursday, April 18.

For Evan, one of the best parts of his capstone is that he didn’t complete it alone. With close guidance from Dr. Craig Howald, Rickey Associate Professor of Physics, he brought his vision to life, overcoming challenges and gaining confidence along the way.

“I’m not sure I ever thought I’d get this type of opportunity,” Evan said. “It was nice being at a small school like Marietta because I was able to work closely with Dr. Howald. His guidance and advice were invaluable, but I also learned a lot about my skills along the way.”

Howald added, “This has been a very exciting capstone project. Evan has been great — providing the idea, designing the equipment, building it all with my help, troubleshooting, and prototyping improvements.”

Howald said with many capstone projects, students are less worried about the aesthetics of the project and focus more on the results.

“It shows off his engineering mindset,” Howald said. “In particular, I have been impressed by his capability to design, implement, revise, and refine. In addition, he has respectfully incorporated most of my suggestions.”

Now future students can use the fully functional flume for their own research. “When I was building it, I wasn’t thinking about the future applications, but it’s nice to know future Pioneers will benefit from it,” Evan said.

As part of the Engineering Dual Degree program, Evan didn’t envision working on a capstone project since he should have left campus after three years. The dual degree program provides students an opportunity to attend a partner school for the final two years and earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Marietta and a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from the second institution.

He will graduate from Marietta in May, and he is looking at civil engineering graduate programs at West Virginia, Case Western, Ohio State, and Cleveland State. He anticipates choosing a program by April.

Another reason he stayed at Marietta for the fourth year was to continue competing on the rowing team. Evan was recruited as a rower from Central Ohio Rowing, based in Columbus.

“I fell in love with the Marietta rowing program, and I didn’t want to miss my final season,” he said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed rowing under the expertise of Coach (Greg) Myhr.”

Dr. Suzanne Parsons, McCoy Professor of Chemistry, said capstone projects and the College’s Investigative Studies Program are examples of how the College gives its students the resources and support to take charge of their learning.

“If you have innovative ideas that you are enthusiastic to explore, this is the place to make them happen,” said Parsons, who is also the Investigative Studies Program Director. “Bring your big ideas, your crazy dreams, and prepare to achieve them.”