About

How do I introduce myself? I could fill out one of those 50 point questionnaires and call it quits but really, who wants to know my most and least favorite little rascal? Perhaps this page would be better geared towards people who don’t know me at all (I can just hear my parents right now complaining they feel like these people).

My name is Lowell and I’m 24 years old. Born and raised in a suburb of Philadelphia, PA, I went to college at The Rochester Institute of Technology and received my Bachelors and Masters in Mechanical Engineering. Simply put, I studied mechanical engineering because I wanted to design bicycles (yes, the kind you pedal). When questions of college and career came up, I thought about what I would enjoy doing all day, every day. Having just designed what I thought was the latest and greatest BMX parts a 9th grader could come up with, I thought doing that would be a great full time job. Little did I know it’s not as easy as sending in your 9th grade drawings to Trek with an expectation of a gold star and a job offer.

Upon learning that a good number of bicycle designers are mechanical engineers or industrial designers (depending on the company you’re talking to), I found a good school that had programs (and also that wasn’t near home…wait, are my parent’s still reading?). I didn’t do anything with ID for two reasons, ME classes are time-consuming and ID classes require artistic skill and even more time. I’m lucky, however, that I found a field that I enjoy and didn’t have to switch majors like many of my friends. I hope they found a more suitable field. Why do I like engineering? You’ll have to ask me in person because as you can see, I talk a lot. However, I will say the two things I enjoyed the most were my Masters research (“Characterization and Sensitivity Analysis of Hyperelastic Materials in Biaxial Tension” since I know you all care…) and my involvement with the 2010 RIT Human Powered Vehicle Team (HPVT).

In short (because I could talk forever about this too), a team of us designed, built and tested a tadpole recumbent racing tricycle to race against other schools in an ASME sponsored competition. For 2010, my senior year, we had a completely new team and I had no leadership or design/build experience prior yet somehow had to lead a team of 10. Through dedication, late nights, and help from the RIT/Rochester community, we put together an awesome vehicle and took 5th place overall out of 12th in the more difficult of two categories. The success of the team that year reminded me why I got into engineer 5 years earlier and I knew I had to continue to strive for that dream job. Check out the highly informal and rarely updated HPVT website on the links page.

Following the end of my senior year, I stuck around RIT to finish my Masters research. Had I worked only on my thesis in my senior year and never did HPVT, I would not have stayed for the summer and I would not have met Jesse Steiner. Jesse Steiner is, in short, pretty damn awesome. While I must credit many people for instilling in me a sense of adventure, seeing Jesse ride through RIT on his Surly Big Dummy was the kick in the pants that I needed to do my own ride.

After getting his own Bachelors and Masters from RIT, he set off by bicycle from Montreal, Canada headed for Argentina. His route looks as if it followed a broken compass and his pace was dictated mostly by breweries and friendly faces. My description cannot do him justice, however. While his ride is now over, I’ll leave it to you to read his website (The Transcontinentalist) and find out just how far he went. Suffice it to say, I sat in my windowless lab the rest of the summer following him on his journey and using all my will power not to shut down the computer for good, get on my own bike, and start riding.

Like I said, a ride of my own is needed. Seeing as I don’t know where I want to live or for whom I want to work, I’ve decided to go ride my bike. Originally set for a southern winter route on the HPVT trike, this idea was put to rest upon realizing there’s only 10 hours of daylight in New Orleans in December! Instead I took a temporary position at Impact Technologies and learned even more about what it is I’d like to find in a company and career. Yes, I’m not ONLY looking for bike design jobs, but also alternative energy, product design, and research to name a few (this is where you email me for my resume if you work at one of these companies!). Despite an amazing experience at Impact, the bike ride is still needed.

I’ve written this introduction before leaving on my ride (May 1st) so it will be interesting to see how I characterize what it is exactly that I’m doing. All I can tell you now is that I have no direction, deadline or destination. I’m starting from my hometown of Philadelphia and heading west (oh you already knew that? What gave it away…). But West is a direction and I just said I have none! Oh you feel clever, don’t you. Take “West” literally and you’re correct. Take it with a grain of salt (don’t forget the lime and shot) and you’ll understand.

The easiest way to explain myself is to say I want to experience the country in every sense of the word. Perhaps I will come out of this with a clearer idea of what to do next. With that said, none of my life’s existing goals have changed (though change is good and welcome). I still want a career in engineering and a family of my own, I’m just going to ride my bike there. I know some people may find it irresponsible to take an undisclosed amount of time off with no job in sight. To that I tell them something a great person once told me, that if you’re going to do something, do it right and do it complete.

If you’ve read this all the way through, I really appreciate you taking the time. You love me! You really love me! Well I love you too. I hope you will continue to follow the stories as we experience them together.

See you out there somewhere,

Lowell

9 Responses

  1. Gary Young

    Hey Lowell,
    Good luck on your trip. I’ll be following this website.
    Gary

    April 9, 2011 at 5:22 pm

  2. hey lowell,

    I met you at macgregors…I think what you’re doing is amazing and I wish you all the luck in the world. make sure you blog often and take lots of pictures! have fun on your adventure!!

    -tawni

    April 9, 2011 at 5:24 pm

  3. Sripriya

    I really hope you make this journey of yours succesfull. And this is really inspiring!

    Have fun and keep us updated.

    April 9, 2011 at 5:29 pm

  4. Missie Wakefield

    Hope your pass through Harford County, MD was uneventful and safe. You met two wonderful people after crossing the Conowingo Dam. I look forward to following your journey. Be safe

    May 3, 2011 at 5:17 am

  5. Hi Lowell,
    So good to meet you on Saturday, June 11th at the coffee shop. I wish you well out there and hope to do some riding myself. Stop on in anytime and let me know how it all turned out.
    Lori
    Owner, Fair Trade Coffee House
    Madison, WI

    June 12, 2011 at 8:43 am

  6. Greg (Skip) Baskin

    Hi Lowell, met you at the overlook of the Minnesota Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, across the river from the airport. Hope you made it into Mpls okay. I’m truly impressed at your endeavour. I’ll be watching Skip

    June 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm

  7. Holly

    Thank you for being open enough to Share the “blog” and inspire everyone to push on, even when you arent sure where you’ll end up! Best of Luck and success to you!!

    August 19, 2011 at 9:31 am

  8. Hey! Enjoyed meeting you in northern California. Hope your journey fulfills the need that prompted it. And that life continues to provide you with needs that prompt additional tours.
    Safe travels and high adventures!

    October 15, 2011 at 8:16 pm

  9. So here you are- mission complete and into the last year of our existence… ;)

    Well I had to leave a comment, it’s just what I do. It was a nice read, a comical one at that. You’re parents are proud of you, which is why they kept reading your page! Stop scuffing.

    Nonetheless… I look forward to your page when you finish ALL your blogs! :D Thank god I’m caught up now. Geeeze, would be overwhelmed if I just started! Good luck and keep in touch. Hugs from the WEST

    January 8, 2012 at 2:23 am

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