Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
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School of Health Sciences and Human Performance | Exercise Science
“My job is pretty cool, especially on those days when I get to fly in an F-18.” For Pat Dougherty, those flights are the culmination of years of study that started at Ithaca College.
The exercise science graduate had always played sports, but his professors turned him on to running studies, which he immediately found himself drawn to. “I was curious about how the body worked and exercise physiology is a lot about running at its core. If I was going to study it, I might as well do a lot of it. So that’s when I started running marathons and since then I’ve switched to triathlons.”
Pat’s passion for exercise science led him to pursue his master’s degree and later his doctorate, but that’s where things took a turn. “I realized an academic career wasn’t for me. I wanted something a little more exciting, so I applied and was eventually commissioned as a lieutenant in the Naval aerospace physiology program in 2009.”
Now Pat spends his days providing training for anyone in the service who might be involved in flying. The physiological threats a member of a flight crew can be exposed to include hypoxia, which is a special disorientation that occurs when there isn’t enough blood flow to the brain. This happens sometimes in flights that reach multiple g-forces, and it can have catastrophic results. One of the tools Pat has at his disposal is the only “high-G” human centrifuge in the U.S. Navy, which spins its subjects under multiple g-forces to mimic the sensations hypoxia may bring.
“It’s like a wicked carnival ride. There’s a big motor in the center, and we spin them around in this room, which exposes them to increased accelerations like they would feel in the air. I’ve gone through it a few times, so I can safely say that it’s pretty intense.”
Come February, Pat will move to Corpus Christi, where he will become an air medical safety officer. It’s another challenge he feels completely ready for. “I haven’t taken the most linear path since I left Ithaca, but everything I learned on South Hill has helped push me to the next level of my career.”
>> More on this story: Watch a video of pilot training in the human centrifuge
“I lived on the north fork of Long Island, and I was the only bassoon player on the north fork. The only one,” Sean says. So when it came time to choose a major at Ithaca College, Sean wasn’t worried about taking a different approach from some of his peers.
Many students go to college and make a decision: to focus on one field of study, learn about a specific area, and pick up related courses along the way. But some students, like Sean, have more varied interests. The young bassoonist had discovered a passion for science in high school and wanted to include both music and physics in his educational journey. At Ithaca College, an emphasis on cross-disciplinary learning made it easy for Sean to combine these very different fields and discover a career that draws from each.
“Acoustical engineering really brings them together. Musicians play in spaces all the time, and some are good spaces and some are just bad spaces,” says Sean. “As a performer I know that a good space involves good reverberation times. You will get liveness in the hall, your sound will be carried, but you don’t want it to be too live. If everything’s reflecting too well in the hall, you can get echoes, and it can make everything kind of muddy.”
Working with Luke Keller, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Alex Perialas, associate professor from the School of Music, Sean is doing an acoustical analysis of IC’s Ford Hall auditorium. The analysis will help determine what acoustical improvements will be made during upcoming renovations. “We’re looking at frequency response and reverberation times in Ford Hall to get a quantitative measurement of why we think the renovation has helped.”
Sean also landed a summer internship with SoundSense, an architectural acoustics firm on Long Island, where he worked alongside engineers to develop his skills. The internship helped Sean realize that his decision to combine music and physics was the right path for him. “Talking to the CEO about everything I would be doing caused me to realize that I’ve never been as excited. That’s really what I want to do. That’s my passion.”
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