Friday May 5, 2006

No Five-year Plan

Some college students need five years to complete an undergraduate degree. Not Jim Alverson. He's picking up three degrees at the University of Dayton's commencement on May 7.

Jim Alverson won't be sitting down for very long when diplomas are handed out at University of Dayton commencement exercises on Sunday, May 7. The 22-year-old graduating senior from Loveland, Ohio, is earning three bachelor's of science degrees--in computer science, in electrical engineering and in mechanical engineering.

A member of the Berry Scholars Program, the University's most prestigious undergraduate program, Alverson took advantage of his full-tuition scholarship to take as many credits as he wanted.

"I was given the opportunity to pursue whatever I wanted academically, and although I would have liked to do more, I picked what I wanted to learn about the most and could finish" within the four-year support of the scholarship, he said. "I wanted to set the bar high and see what I could really accomplish with the motivation and commitment to do so. … I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this."

Alverson took an average of 25 credits every semester, plus some summer classes. He also found time to start a master's program in electro-optics at the beginning of his junior year. "I have all course requirements done and only need to finish the thesis," he said.

He credits the encouragement of faculty members who, once they realized he was serious about his goal, supported him.

"I also have a wonderful and understanding girlfriend who helped me out and kept me sane. It's true that I did not have as much free time as many of my classmates, but I love doing what I'm doing. Mostly, I gave up some free time and a lot of sleep."

Alverson has a co-op job at the Air Force Research Labs at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where he is conducting research for his master's thesis.

"I'd like a job where I'm doing a split between research, development and design and where I am able to employ a variety of skills that I have learned from my educational experiences," he said. "It could either be multidisciplinary projects or several individual projects that each requires competence in a different discipline."

But, he added, "I am also looking into completing a Ph.D. before I begin this career."

Contact Jim Alverson at home after 6 p.m. at (937) 627-6474 or (937) 627-6475. His work number is (937) 904-9662, and his cell number is (513) 460-5336.