To say that Greg Ruschau roughed it — along with the dozen or so fellow ceramic engineering majors in the Class of ’85 — would be an understatement.
After a freshman year filled with classes in huge lecture halls — physics in Loomis Lab, chemistry in Noyes Lab, math in Altgeld Hall — Ruschau the sophomore began taking courses geared toward his major. They all had one thing in common — they met in Room 201 of the Ceramics Building.
“The room was about the size of a high school classroom, had a bunch of the old chair/half-desktop seats, and since the Ceramics Building itself was 100 years old, with its dingy beige walls, it hardly looked like a place where cutting edge technology was discussed,” says Ruschau, now living in Texas, where he works as a senior technical advisor for ExxonMobil. “I’d have class for an hour, go to the library or the Union, then back to that room for another class — most of the same people, different professor.
“Early in the fall semester, since the room wasn’t air conditioned, it could get rather stuffy in there, and for early classes on cold winter mornings, people took notes while still wearing their parkas.
“Finally, toward the end of my senior year, Keramos — the ceramics honor society — tasked me with writing a critical review of the department from the students’ perspective as part of a contest among the different engineering colleges. I made it a point in that report to plead for a coat of bright new paint for that room and maybe some updated floor tiles.
“I don’t know if they ever took my advice, but the review won the $700 first prize in that contest.”