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Hidden Treasures at UC

Campus is chock-full of little-known gems.
Here's a sample of UC's buried fortune -- minus all that digging

By John Bach and Mary Niehaus

EVER WONDER what secrets lie behind closed doors? Wish you had an all-access pass for slipping into UC's locker rooms, intriguing labs and rare book rooms?

Here is the ultimate University of Cincinnati insider's tour. We'll sneak you into places you've always wondered about, show you treasures you didn't know UC had, present a travel guide for your next campus visit and answer nagging questions that inquiring minds have long wanted to know.

We may have missed a few nuggets here and there, but our treasure trove is overflowing. Three writers and five photographers spent two months climbing into dusty closets, begging for keys and dangling off precipices that made others question our sanity. We're dirty, tired and excited to share it with you.

CCM costumes photo/Dottie Stover

CCM costumes. Photo/Dottie Stover

Dressing up at CCM

Not even Imelda Marcos had as many shoes as the College-Conservatory of Music: nearly 5,000 pairs, in women's 4 to men's 17, ranging from dance taps to cowboy boots to sandals and slippers. Among 450 pairs from two Broadway shows, "Cyrano, The Musical" and "The Scarlet Pimpernel," are 17th century style swashbuckler boots costing $900 to $1,400 a pair. At the opposite end of the wardrobe, the college owns hundreds of wigs, beards and moustaches, many handmade by CCM students as part of their coursework.

Tens of thousands of costume parts, including antique and Broadway treasures, serve as learning tools for both CCM performers and costume-design students, many of whom work on Broadway today. A brisk rental service to photographers, movies and theater companies also helps the elegant garments earn their keep.


Kitchen fixin's photo/Dottie Stover

Kitchen fixin's. Photo/Dottie Stover

Kitchen-fresh menus

Behind the scenes at UC's Sander Dining Hall, Bernice Hibbett bakes nearly 60 dozen chocolate chip, peanut butter, macadamia nut and sugar cookies. Add those to the fresh morsels from MarketPointe, Siddall Hall's marché-style dining facility, and the daily cookie consumption at UC jumps to more than 140 dozen.

Venturing beyond the tasty choices at Sander and MarketPointe, students will find Caminetto on East Campus, while West Campus offers Pizza Hut, Freshens, Gold Star, Wendy's, Tortilla Fresca, Mick and Mack's Contemporary Café, Quick Mick's Grab ‘n' Go, Subway and Starbucks. Eating options at UC will expand even further when the second presentation-style restaurant opens in the new Campus Recreation Center next December.

More about dining at UC

Hot technology photo/Peter Griga

Hot technology. Photo/Peter Griga

Super-efficient engines

Though at times it may sound like machine gun fire to those walking outside Rhodes Hall, professor Ephraim Gutmark is not developing the next generation assault weapon in his bunker-like basement lab.

The Ohio Eminent Scholar is actually refining technology that has the potential to "revolutionize transportation." Gutmark and his team are engaged in a worldwide race to replace the traditional jet turbine engine with a more efficient source of power -- the pulse-detonation engine (PDE). The major difference between a traditional combustion jet engine and a pulse detonation engine is the speed with which the shock wave or energy travels after the fuel reacts -- tens of meters per second versus thousands of meters per second.

Gutmark's PDE has a distinct advantage over other industry prototypes in that it is small and mobile enough to be tested in both a noise lab and a wind tunnel. It will soon be integrated into a turbine engine as a power supplement.

UC's School of Aerospace Systems

Jessica Justice repairs a book photo/Dottie Stover

Jessica Justice repairs a book. Photo/Dottie Stover

27 ways to repair books

In a collection of more than 3 million volumes, it's not surprising that University Libraries would recommend nearly 8,400 of them for medical assistance in any one year. Standing at the rescue is a team of UC conservation techs and student assistants who can handle 27 types of repair, from reinserting pages and repairing spines to complete restoration of historic works. The binding and processing department is vital for a collection ranked 45th among college research libraries in the United States and Canada.

University Libraries

Kitchen fixin's photo/Dottie Stover

"Tissue surrogate structures." Photo/Dottie Stover

Measuring radioactivity

These models may not look glamorous, but they are getting work all over the world. Patented as "Phantoms," professor Henry Spitz's "tissue surrogate structures" help nuclear engineers around the globe calibrate devices that measure exposure to radioactive materials. Spitz and engineering grad students in his Center Hill lab create fake heads, lungs, livers, thyroids and knees that, when exposed to radioactive materials, behave as real body parts.

"We are trying to develop ways to measure radioactivity that is deposited in the body as a result of something like an industrial accident or even an incident of radiological terror," Spitz says.

Clermont cockpit photo/Dottie Stover

Clermont cockpit. Photo/Dottie Stover

Come fly with Clermont

Step into the cockpit, put on the headset and get ready for a bumpy ride. Well, not really. The cloudy night skies and strange airfield lights might just be a simulation, a ground-level practice for University of Cincinnati students in Clermont College's aviation technology program. Classes such as trigonometry, meteorology and physics are offered on campus, with professional hands-on flight training at the Clermont County Airport. Astute pilots combine aviation with a College of Business degree.

Hove's zebrafish photo/Dan Davenport

Hove's zebrafish. Photo/Dan Davenport

Zebrafish on research team

Tiny stripes of energy, the zebrafish keep few secrets from researcher Jay Hove. The experimental models he studies at UC's Genome Research Institute [now UC Metabolic Diseases Institute] provide data for a whole spectrum of human diseases, collected in a very short time because of the animal's rapid life cycle. Because fish and people are not so genetically distant, UC scientists can engineer the zebrafish to develop cancer, diabetes, heart disease or weakened immune systems.

These young are almost transparent, and Dr. Hove can see red blood cells race through their bodies and watch their organs develop.

Sculpture foundry photo/courtesy of Farron Allen

Sculpture foundry. Photo/courtesy of Farron Allen

Hot metal becomes art

Bronze sculptures are born in searing heat, steam and 2,000-degree liquid metal inside the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning sculpture foundry. Preparation begins weeks before. Artists manipulate sand and plaster, tarpaper and wire to construct sturdy negative forms of the original art piece. Later, the heavy cauldron of liquid bronze is tipped to fill the waiting forms. When the molds are cracked open, rough surfaces are ground away and colored patinas added. All that remains is to admire.

DAAP's School of Art

Uetz's spiders top photo/Andrew Higley  bottom pic/Garrett Landers

Uetz's spiders. Top/Andrew Higley. Bottom/Garrett Landers

Spider science

UC biologist George Uetz, an internationally known expert on spiders, spends his time unraveling the web of questions that surround the arachnids he has been investigating for 29 years. Currently, he is studying hundreds of Brush-Legged Wolf Spiders in his Rieveschl Hall lab to better understand how the species communicates. The male wolf spider, for example, uses vibrations, body movements and leg tapping behaviors to attract its mate.

"These are animals with senses very different from ours," Uetz says. "Spiders use their legs to walk and perceive the world. They perceive vibration through their legs."

Uetz and his graduate students record a spider's behavior using a digital video camera, then analyze the action frame by frame. With this method they have been able to study the angle of attack of spiders that have lost a leg in an effort to determine their loss of sensory perception.

"From a scientific perspective, it is interesting to consider how the relatively small invertebrate brain integrates sensory information to compensate for injury," Uetz says. "These are important biomedical questions."

George Uetz's Web site

Making it safe photo/Dottie Stover

Making it safe. Photo/Dottie Stover

A safer environment

While personal safety is the primary concern of most airline passengers, UC environmental engineer Makram Suidan also is concerned with another kind of safety -- making sure that chemicals used to deice airplanes in winter leave no hazardous compounds on a runway or in the soil. In the past 25 years, Suidan has successfully developed a number of bioremediation applications that break down environmentally harmful compounds, among them deicing chemicals, gasoline and Agent Orange.

Shaky engineering photo/courtesy of UC Clermont College

Shaky engineering. Photo/courtesy of UC Clermont College

Campus vibration lab

Although plenty of schools in the country use computers to simulate road conditions, UC has one of the few collegiate labs in the world that actually shakes an automobile vigorously on a 4-axis road simulator to develop methods that help the industry analyze and improve their products.

That same spirit of ingenuity led engineers in UC's Structural Dynamics Research Lab to develop software now being used to analyze ground vibration on commercial airplanes. And many graduates and professors from the program have started their own successful mechanical engineering firms.

Michael Romanos uses CAS skills photo/Lisa Ventre

Michael Romanos uses CAS skills. Photo/Lisa Ventre

Old-world woodworking

Bob Hutzler doesn't consider it odd that the College of Applied Science still teaches a centuries-old craft such as woodworking. He says today's college may focus on such modern fields as electrical engineering technology and information technology, but it was the manufacturing trades that gave the school its founding mission as the Ohio Mechanics Institute back in 1828.

Hutzler coordinates wood technology, the same program he attended in 1956. Today the discipline is a 60-hour evening program that equips students to use both hand tools and power machinery to craft hardwood into boxes, tables, cabinets, Windsor chairs and more.

UC penthouse of Lisa and Ben Britton photo/Dottie Stover

UC penthouse of Lisa and Ben Britton. Photo/Dottie Stover

Welcome to the UC penthouse

The University of Cincinnati has a penthouse? Six of them, actually. Two on each top floor of Morgens, Scioto and Sawyer residence halls.

Available to faculty and staff through a waiting list, the two-bedroom units have wood-burning fireplaces, parquet floors, laundry hookups and patios with “spectacular views,” says housing manager Deb Cohen.

The university also has four guest apartments for visiting professors, researchers and international faculty who are staying at least one month. High-speed Internet access and maid service make the one- and two-bedroom units in Morgens, Scioto, Daniels and Siddall a bargain at $800 to $900 a month.

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