By Sandi Latimer
Set goals, aim high and work hard to get there is what West High School alumnus Robert Woods told students.
“I knew I wanted certain things in life,” the 1990 graduate told engineering students at West High School on Feb. 26 when they displayed their projects for an Engineering Week exhibition.
“I had to have goals and had to work for what I wanted.”
Woods played football for the Cowboys and went to the University of Akron on a football scholarship.
“After two years I realized the pros weren’t going to look at me, so I transferred to Morehouse College in Atlanta,” he said.
He told students about being surrounded by smart people who were working hard, and that forced him to buckle down and work hard himself. Woods, who grew up on Highland Avenue, graduated from Morehouse and went to The Ohio State University Law School.
He recalled his days at West when he didn’t have to study much.
“I just wanted to play football,” said Woods. “When I got to Morehouse, I developed a strong work ethic. I learned I could make large issues smaller.”
That’s what engineering is about, he said.
Today, Woods said, he bills clients $400 an hour and is also a sports agent. He knows the other side of life, too; some classmates were killed in robberies, he said.
“If I could leave one thing with you today, it would be to know what your goals are, aim high and work hard to reach them,” Woods said to the students.
Prior to his presentation, he toured the media center where the students had set up their projects. One corner had a 3-D printer which was producing a little car. Another table held what the students called a sorter where marbles of different sizes and weights went down a chute and into compartments designated for their size and weight.
Sophomore Sean Thomas demonstrated a shooter, a device that could launch tennis balls or baseballs so an athlete could practice hitting.
Projects were constructed from metal galleys and parts — what earlier generations would call erector sets, but what sophomore Nathaniel Spicer called a vex kit.
Thomas stretched a rubber band on his small-scale shooter for tension and his device lobbed a small ball several feet out of the chute. The rubber band appeared to be a tourniquet once used to wrap around an arm when a patient has a blood draw. “That’s what it is,” he confirmed. “We use whatever we can find.”
That caught Woods’ attention.
“It’s just like in law school,” he said. “We learned to think things through, to be creative, to create ways for people to do things.”
Thomas said he dreams of being an engineer, but law is his second choice.
Also visiting the display was Minnie McGee, assistant dean of the OSU College of Engineering.
She said she likes visiting such exhibitions because not only does she get to see the kind of work the students are doing, but she can offer advice to the underclassmen about how and when to apply for college.