Music production reporting back

Connor Hodgens

Artistic and Creative endeavour

With my STEP fellowship, I ordered musical equipment and software, as well as computer parts to build a home studio. I then recorded my musician friends and produced songs for them, which were released on social media. I plan on recording more with everyone involved and possibly more of my friends.

Prior to this project, I understood songwriting and producing to be something that came naturally. I found that while this is true, it’s much more of a science than I had thought. I assumed basic rhythm and were simple, but it turns out I knew little about chord structuring and song charting. With the help of my friends and multiple books on music making, I was able to make this a much less exhaustive task. Now that the process is easier for me, I have found I enjoy just sitting and thinking up ideas even more.

My relationships played a major role in how much I learned with this equipment. I was able to pick up a great deal about mixing and editing levels of instruments from my friend Ben. He was heavily involved in Marching Band and has home produced for a few years now. Thanks to his help, I was able to get hands-on knowledge with mixing, songwriting, and production in general. My friendship with Ben also provided me insight from other producers, whom I never met but I had listened to previously. I was inspired after this because it was educational and allowed me to better myself. My friend Justin helped me grasp the concepts of song structure. Alongside this, he was a very creative mind to collaborate with. This helped open my eyes to new bits of music theory and structure, as he was involved with the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra for many years.

My project allowed me to gain a new perspective on music writing, as this was the first opportunity I had to learn and bounce ideas off of other people in a free form manner. When I first sat down with my friend Tonnie to make a song, I began to notice many things about what worked best between artist and producer. The process involved a series of having an idea, listening to an idea, and working to encorporate the idea into the song. Sometimes he would like my ideas, other times he would improve upon them and mould them into his style. This proved to be my favorite aspect of songwriting. No one idea is wrong or right, but as a group you can present a very fine piece of work by inputting everyone’s ideas and allowing the artist to express themself.

Through this project, I also gained new musical connections to help broaden my personal network. As I posted some of our progress to social media, I gained followers and friends who wanted to collaborate and learn more. One of my favorite moments over the summer was when Justin asked if he could bring his friend over. He had never gotten involved in music throughout school, but was interested in learning more about it. We had him sit in for a while and allowed him to try out some instruments himself. I found this moment to be great because someone who had a desire to learn was given the tools to educate themselves.


Complex Endorsement

Name: Luke Burgett
Type of Project: Creative Endeavor.
1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

My STEP experience involved me obtaining my complex endorsement which allows me to fly a greater range of aircraft. I received my training at the OSU flight school in one of their Piper Arrows.

2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
I received a better understanding of the aircraft and all the safety measures that are in place to protect people. It is everyone jobs from the designers and engineers to the pilots and passengers responsibility to ensure their safety.
The experience also helped show me that each part of the country vary dramatically not just in geography, but culturally as well. Before the experience I believed that flying and the number of people flying would be similar to what I had experienced back home, while flying in Ohio I realized that wasn’t true. Ohio deserves the reputation of the birth place of aviation not only since aviation industry first started there, but the people love aviation and foster the growth of aviation since the very beginning.

3. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?

Safety is the highest priority during any pilot training and always begins with the preflight. I experienced the benefit of thorough preflight during one of my lessons. I was scheduled to fly the same plane as the person before me and common sense says since the plane was just flying and landed odds are it is safe to fly. This was not one of those times though during my preflight I found that both of the main tires were flat and the engine cowling had gotten stuck in midflight and could not be opened without the help of the maintenance department. It goes to show that standard procedures even if they seem redundant are in place to prevent major accidents from happening.
Safety doesn’t stop with the preflight of the aircraft. The entire purpose of having to receive a complex endorsement is not that the aircraft are extremely difficult to fly, but the safety procedures are different compared to standard aircraft. The two differences between a complex and standard aircraft are complex aircraft have constant speed props and retractable landing gear. The leading cause of complex aircraft crashes are when there is a failure in the landing gear. Many of those crashes are caused by the pilot forgetting to put the landing gear down. Pilot negligence is the main cause of crashes so my training focused on preventing that from happening
The second takeaway from there experience hit me when I was flying around Columbus and that is aviation is deeply rooted in Ohio. It seemed as if every town in Ohio had their own airport and everywhere I looked there was another plane out flying close by. This is in sharp contrast to the areas I fly in where I can fly for hours at a time and not see another aircraft. It showed me that every region of the country have their own culture.

4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?
The experience will help with my personal goals since many aeronautical companies prefer to employ people with their pilot’s licenses because those people are going to be the end user of their products and have an extra insight on what pilots and passengers want. By having my complex endorsement I was able to get hands on experience with a wider range of aircraft. The greatest part of this experience was I was able to do something that is my favorite hobby and expand my opportunities to go farther, faster, and share it with more people.

Reflection: The Repost

Type of Project: Creative and Artistic Endeavor


  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

             My STEP Signature Project was to travel to India to learn more about integrated and complementary medicine, specifically Ayurveda. Following the explorative portion of the trip, I was to write a photojournalistic book regarding my discoveries about Ayurveda.


  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.


            Liberation and Perspective. Two years of non-stop classes and relentless pursuit of better grades had skewed my view of my community, my passion, and myself. I had forgotten the things that were most important to me and I had allowed myself to become cynical and lethargic. I had lost motivation to continue the path that I was following, and I had begun to assign quitting as a temporary solution to all of my problems. This is what college had done to me, or rather what I had allowed it to do to me. I had closed myself off from the world of passion, wonderment, and accomplishment. Liberation and perspective is what I found in the midst of this project.


            This project gave me an opportunity to look beyond the boundaries of college and dream grander. Traveling to India and experiencing the culture and learning about Ayurveda hands-on brought me to realize why I wanted to be a doctor all along and reignited the passion that had been extinguished by the rat-race of college. Talking to the patients and their families, scrubbing into surgeries, having discussions with physicians regarding my project and its contents jolted me back into life once more. With a camera at hand, a passion filled & open mind, and a thirst for knowledge, I found clarity in my understanding of my community, in my life goals, and ultimately my love of medicine.


  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.


            Traveling with the sole purpose of exploration and the overall growth of my understanding of medicine allowed me to concentrate on my immediate goals and rather ignore the looming challenges that lied ahead once I returned to college. Having the opportunity to mingle with doctors, surgeons, patients, and everyone in between brought back my passion to join the healthcare system. Speaking to patients and learning of their ordeals, provided me a rare glimpse into the lives of otherssome more unfortunate than I. For instance, I met a family in which all but one member of the family, an eight year-old boy, had been diagnosed with cancer as well as early stage Alzheimers disease. Having both a disease that requires regular care, chemotherapy or radiation, and a disorder that deteriorates their memory meant that the family had a very high mortality rate. Through this rare and regrettable prognosis, I had the chance to learn and experience first-hand the detailed facts of patient carefrom the treatment options given by the doctors to the projected time the family had to get their affairs in order before their illnesses got any more severeas well as what the doctors could do to help the family beyond just the treatment, for instance, specific advanced directives. Experiencing such inopportune conditions gave me a chance to reevaluate my own life and more importantly it revived my passion for medicine that had been lost amongst my daily college life.


            When I was traveling to Alvas Medical College, I had imagined that being in the operating room and living through surgeries would be eye-opening experience and would aid me in my quest for knowledge. In actuality, however, it did so much more. Being in the operating room made me understand the intricacies of healthcare, the importance of all the members of the surgical team, the significance of the acute administration of medicines, the weight of unacknowledged time, the unrecorded & unyielding passion of medicine, and the cultural significance of healthcare. Not only did the surgeons and doctors teach me their livelihoods, but they allowed me to question and challenge their methods, and most importantly, in the process gave me the freedom to peruse and better my understanding of my passion–medicine.


            On the flight back to the US, I realized that I was going to miss being in the operating room for many hours in a day, I was going to miss the doctors that I discussed medical cases with, I was going to miss the patients that I conversed with, I was going to miss seeing families overcome with happiness after a successful surgery, and I was going to miss experiencing the sorrow when the surgical procedure failed; but, those same feelings of wanting to help patients, to learn from doctors, to cultivate & disseminate happiness, ignited in me a lifetime worth of passion for medicine, community, and perseverance. That sorrow and happiness allowed me to understand how I tolerate misfortune and delight, who I develop into in its wake and how, within it, I might uncover both the frightening and the extraordinary.


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.


The importance of regaining my love for medicine when I aspire to become a doctor is irrefutably vital. Academically, this project has given me a long-term source of motivation to excel in my studies as well as in my extracurricular activities. In fact, with this newly found perspective and clarity at the successful conclusion of this project, my views and opinions on learning have changed for the better. This project has changed me in the most personal ways; specifically, my personality and values have been positively augmented and I have found great success in active & hands-on learning. Learning, expression, and personal growth have, once again, become the foundations of my future ambitions. I have always been a dreamer, and lately achieving those dreams had become difficult, which had made me lose hope in dreaming. But alas, this project has restored in me the importance of dreaming and accomplishing those dreams. It is believed that a dreamer can always remember the beginning of a dream and furthermore its original inspiration. True muse, then, is impossible to be faked.This project is my true [re-]inspiration. It has [re-]inspired me to love medicine and to embrace the idea of dreaming and achieving a dream 12 years in the making, a dream to become a healthcare provider.


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STEP Creative Endeavor Cory Colston (Captains License/Leadership Conference)


  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.
  • With my STEP project I was able to do a number of different things. My focus was creative endeavor as I wanted to do something different than others, but unique to me. I obtained my charter boat captains license with the money provided through STEP. I also went to a leadership conference as I thought it would be a great tool for my future career in education. I had to go through a three month class as well as a number of different tests in order to get this certification for the captains license. Once obtaining this license I put it to use immediately. I live in Port Clinton, Ohio which is located right on Lake Erie. I ran fishing charters on the lake for a summer job, which is something that I will continue to do for the remainder of my life.
  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
  • While I grew up in the area that I did I had always aspired to do something that I loved and to make a living out of it. This thing that I aspired to do was fishing and this goal that I had set was very obtainable. I wanted to get this license in high school, but the cost of the class was too much for me as I knew I had to save money for college as well. Once I saw what STEP had to offer I knew that I could finally do what I had always wanted. I also participated in the leadership portion of the experience. I wanted to gain as much as possible from this great program. When looking at my two careers teaching, and being a charter captain. I will have to work with people each and every day. This helps show how important leadership really is.


  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?
  • When coming into STEP I had the idea that I wanted to get my captains license, but I did not know if that were something that would be applicable for the program. I feel that Dr. Loza my faculty member had a great impact on why I choose to do the things I did. She encouraged each and every one of us to strive to do something unique to ourselves. I gave her my idea of obtaining my captains license, and then she threw out the idea of doing something leadership based with my extra funds that she did not want me to waste. She thought this project would be perfect for me as it was something that I always wanted.  This experience has impacted me for the rest of my life as it provided me to obtain something that I will always use. I understand that study abroad programs are something that will stay with you forever and can be a once in a lifetime opportunity, but this creative endeavor portion of STEP to me is the easiest way to do something unique to yourself. Throughout the process I kept in touch with a number of people from my home town to try to figure out how I would do this, and Dr. Loza was there with support from start to finish.
  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?
  • This experience was very valuable to me as it allowed me to obtain a job that I will continue for the remainder of my life. With the help of STEP I was able to get into the charter fishing business at a young age, which will hopefully allow me to move up as time goes on. The end goal is to start my own business running boats on the lake. Without STEP I may not have ever got my captains license, so this was a very significant and life changing program for me. Overall STEP was a great program that truly did change my life for the better. Most people think that their experience will be something that just impacts your college career, but STEP goes past that and has a lasting impact for the remainder of your life.


These are two of the companies that I worked for this past year in case anyone wanted to get a better look at the things that I did with this project.

CAD Computers and 3D Printing

Name: Lucas Miller

Type of Project: Artistic & Creative Endeavor

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

    The primary objective of my project was to learn about the technology and components that go into computers and 3D printers by personally building them. To this end, I constructed a CAD-ready computer and a 3D printer from their components, documenting the process through photographs. From this project I gained experience in troubleshooting integrated systems as well as in hands-on construction of hardware which is extremely useful in the Computer Science and Engineering major.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

    Due to the hands-on building approach this project necessitated, completing it was personally challenging. I did not have much experience in building in general, let alone of electrical devices. Seeing as this project was extensively based in physical construction, it challenged me to move outside of my comfort zone. As a result I not only now better understand the inner workings of the machinery I use to code, but I also became much more acquainted with building and tools in general. I also gained insight into the hardware and world of 3D printing, and can now participate in the community.

    The project was socially expanding as it allowed me to tap into the large network of others who have built their own computers as well as the 3D printing community. I conversed with several people who built their own PC’s for advice and feedback on the components I selected. Through this topic of conversation I made several new connections. Once the actual build was underway, I asked for advice as I went through the process and thus gained additional connections. Furthermore, once I completed the build I became a point of contact for information for others working on custom PC builds.

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?

    In building the CAD ready computer, the main challenge I encountered involved the CPU fan. The original fan I installed onto the CPU was the stock fan that came packaged with the CPU. When I installed it the first time however, I realized I had not left enough wire length to reach to the motherboard’s CPU fan plug. As a result, I had to rotate the fan and reattach it. But the fan’s preapplied thermal paste was already spread. So when I started the computer, I ran into issues with overheating. As a result, I had to uninstall the stock fan and install a more challenging, after market fan. The challenge of removing the existing thermal paste and applying new paste while not damaging the CPU or motherboard helped me become more confident in my hardware problem solving techniques.

    As to the 3D printer build, one problem I faced was the discrepancies between the build instructions and the parts I had. For instance, in building the y-axis motor assembly, there was a z-nut to be installed so that the entire y-arm could move up and down. But this assembly was quite cramped, and as it turned out the z-nut was just slightly too large to fit where it needed to. So, I ended up taking an Exacto knife to it until it fit in. This helped me achieve my personal goal of becoming more familiar and skilled with hardware.

    Another problem I encountered with the 3D printer build involved the actual printing process. A major problem that many encounter with 3D printing is getting the first layer to stick to the printing surface (bed). If this step fails, the print must be stopped or else it will just pool into a mess of plastic at the hot end. I had to employ several strategies to prevent this from happening. I used blue painters tape cleaned with isopropyl alcohol top provide a rough and clean printing surface on the bed. I then roughed this up further with sandpaper and applied some hair spray. The combination of these efforts allowed my first layer to stick. Once again, problem solving through this situation built my confidence and skill in hardware and physical troubleshooting.

    All in all, my STEP project was an extremely rewarding experience. It has allowed me to explore technologies normally too expensive to simply purchase and learn from. I am now set up to continue with these technologies past what was described in my STEP proposal, and can benefit from the project for years to come.

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?

    As a new Computer Science Engineering major, I know I will have a lot of exposure to software design and programming through my coursework. But the CSE curriculum does not have much in the way of hardware. Thanks to this STEP project, I now have experience in the hardware side of computer science. This will help me in my search for a job after graduation and provide perspective to the software side of my major. Additionally, since I just recently switched to CSE from Chemical Engineering, the 3D printer build allowed me to employ my cross-disciplinary knowledge as the polymers and heating elements of this build fell squarely into Chemical Engineering.

    This project reaffirmed my decision to change my major. Working with the Chemical Engineering side of the 3D printer was fun, but not nearly as fun as the coding and software aspect of the project. After completing STEP and also taking a few Computer Science and Engineering courses, I am confident I made the right choice in switching majors.

CAD-Ready Computer

CAD-Ready Computer

The PrintrBot Simple Metal 3D Printer Kit- assembled.

The PrintrBot Simple Metal 3D Printer Kit- assembled.

Puerto Rico

STEP Reflection


Name: Isabel Graham-Torrez

Type of Project: Artistic and Creative Endeavor

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. I spent two weeks talking to tourists in an effort to find out what it is about travel that makes it easy for people to relax and live in the moment. I focused on a variety of different types of tourism to have a holistic sample. I then took all the conversations and interactions and condensed them into a mantra to help people remember that you don’t have to be traveling to experience life vividly. I wanted to help people inject their vacation mentality in a productive and motivating way that is compatible with their responsibilities.


  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?I had always struggled with staying happy and motivated, and when I sat down to think of a STEP project I knew I wanted to find a way to be consistently motivated and happy. This project was my chance to put myself back in my happiest mindset my “travel mindset” with the purpose of preserving it. I realized that my mindset when I travel is goal oriented, easy going, and optimistic. Isolating these three traits has allowed me to apply them to my daily life, and so far it’s working. Travel gave me the feeling of leaving problems that were out of my control behind. But I realized that I was under the misconception that I had to carry these problems with me. This project made me realize that I didn’t need a plane to leave those things behind.


  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?

I talked to a lot of people during my project, and I got a lot of advice, and good wishes, but one in particular stood out. I had a very long conversation with a 30 year old man from Brussels who had recently quit his job and traveled to Puerto Rico. He had worked as a bank manager and realized that he was thoroughly unhappy with his life. He realized that what made him so unhappy was that since moving back to Brussels from Germany, he felt like he wasn’t making deep connections with people. He felt like he lived his life skimming the surface and he was deeply lonely. He decided to take some vacation time and he went to visit Puerto Rico for a week. That was 1 year ago, he fell in love with the people and the connections he made with the locals. He went back and quit his job, sold his house, and moved to Puerto Rico.

He made a conscious decision to get to know the people around him on vacation and he didn’t want to give up those relationships. Being in a new place gave him the courage to start his life over again.

He’s been engaged to the lady who rented him a room in her house while he was in Puerto since April, and they’re in love. The piece of advice he chose to leave with me was “sometimes we need a blank canvas to make a masterpiece.”

I was able to take this and realize that I was the only one keeping all these used canvases with me. I could choose to scrape of the layers of paint and start over fresh every day, no matter where I was.



  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?  

I’ve been able to live my life much more relaxed than I thought I could be. This calm gives me the ability to STEP back and see my life as a big picture. I don’t let the mistakes I’ve made or the difficult times in my life tag along and overwhelm me. Because of realizing that I am the only one who chooses to carry that weight with me, I could choose to put it down. And that’s exactly what I did.

“I choose to live my life today unaffected by the person I was yesterday.”      -Isabel Graham-Torrez  BirdBuilding

Josh Wegert Step Reflection

Name: Josh Wegert Type of Project: Creative endeavor

       My project consisted of going to minor league baseball games and getting players’ autographs and other memorabilia to sell online. I did this so I could test a business model and to test if marketing on Twitter and YouTube have any impact on my eBay sales of the items.

      I was transformed during this project and learned that sometimes, even when you have carefully planned, things might not go the way you expected. I assumed that online twitter marketing was fairly easy to do and all you would need would be popular hashtags. I found that this is not the case. This experience has humbled me and shown me I do not know as much as I thought I knew. This has changed my outlook on the world. Previously I routinely looked at jobs or occupations and thought that they looked easy or that anyone could do them. But after this experience, I will now be slower to think that way.

      I have also gained a greater respect for people who start their own business. As a finance major, I am interested in big companies with lots of revenue and lots of profit potential for shareholders. Small businesses that made only $250,000 did not seem important to me. They still probably will not interest me as a future investor. But, in this experience, I got a little taste of what it is like to have your own business and it his hard work and can sometimes be frustrating. I have learned that it is very difficult to run your own business and I will now not gloss over or underappreciate small business owners.

        During this experience I did not achieve the level of success that I had anticipated in the business area of the project. This is most likely partially my own fault and partially the fault of circumstances beyond my control. Sometimes I did not get the autograph I was hoping for. I considered myself a very good autograph getter but sometimes it did not work out as I had planned. This humbled me. One example of this was on July 5th when I had planned to get the autograph of two Yankees prospects ranked in the top fifty in all of baseball. I had everything planned out and then one of them got promoted to the next level of the minors. This meant I would not be able to get his autograph. That was a bummer but it was okay because there was still a really good prospect there. A few days before the game, the other really good player was also promoted. This was heartbreaking because now there were only a few Yankees top ten prospects that were going to be at the game. So when the day of the game finally came around none of the top ten Yankees prospects were willing to sign and I was only able to get one autograph from an unranked player. His autograph is worth next to nothing. This turn of events showed me that even when you plan, things might not go the way you thought they would and not to be over confident and think that everything will always fall into place.

       On the marketing side of this project I saw that it definitely harder than it looks to build a marketing empire for your business. I thought that if I tweeted a lot and had good hashtags I would accumulate a strong following but this did not come to fruition. I tweeted 122 times and uploaded 27 photos. I was only able to amass 11 followers. However, I was able to get some followers in my target audience. A bobblehead collector from Japan and an owner of a minor league baseball time followed me. This indicates that I was doing something right because I was attracting some attention from my target audience. I was unable to drive massive traffic to my eBay listings based on my twitter account. But my YouTube campaign was more successful. My eBay listings that were featured on Twitter averaged 27.25 views, but my listings featured on YouTube averaged 35.70 views.

       My experience selling the memorabilia online changed me and made me appreciate and admire all the work small business owners do. I was only able to sell 29.73% of the items that I listed. This fact alone shows that my current business model is not a sustainable one. With ticket, gas, and autograph material expenses, it is hard to make money. I now think that a better model would be to wait to sell the autographs until the player reaches the majors because then there will be a greater market for them. I also learned that running a business takes a lot of time and dedication. When I went to the games I would often arrive early and stay after the game to try to get more autographs. When you add driving time to the equation, the whole process could take seven hours. I was unable to recoup enough money to make those seven hours worth my time. Small business owners have to weigh a lot of options and decide if the revenue that they will receive will be worth the work it takes to earn it. Successful small businesses owners are amazing and are nothing to be looked down upon even though they usually cannot be invested in.

       In this experience I had a small sample of what it is like to run a business. This is valuable for my life because while some people find success in running a business, I have learned that I do not want to do run a business and would rather invest in them. When a person runs a business everything is on them. They do not really have a safety net or internal support system. It is basically them against the world. I would rather work in a team environment and not have the pressure of knowing that if the business fails, then I lose everything. Also, the amount of work and risk that is necessary to make such a small amount of profit does not seem worth it to me. I would rather have a salary with a commission as a bonus so that I would have some security and not be so reliant on if the business succeeds or fails.

       On the marketing side of this project I am excited to learn more because I learned that I do not know as much as I thought I knew. I am always inquisitive and want to know more about things that are unknown to me. This is impactful and this fall semester I will be taking marketing research. If that class goes well, I also plan on adding a marketing major to my existing finance major. This is valuable to me because I will become more attractive to potential future employers and will have more knowledge to offer their company. Also, having a marketing major can allow me to potentially get a marketing job if I am unable to land a job in the financial industry.