EMU engineering alumni Dylan Grove ‘19 (left) and Collin Longenecker ‘20 (right) went from classmates at EMU to colleagues at Classic Distribution in Mount Crawford, Virginia. (Photo by Derrick Chirinos)

From classmates to colleagues: EMU engineering alumni Dylan Grove ’19 and Collin Longenecker ’20

Friends and engineering alumni Dylan Grove and Collin Longenecker had “a million classes together” at EMU. Grove was the first student to earn his degree from EMU’s engineering program in 2019 and Longenecker graduated with the first cohort in 2020. Both majored in mechanical engineering and benefitted from shared and separate experiences that led them to their full-time positions as engineers at Classic Distribution, a cabinet manufacturer in Mount Crawford, Virginia.

Grove grew up in Poolesville, Maryland, loving legos and “building stuff” with his hands. In high school, he excelled in math and the sciences, particularly physics. Both of his parents went to EMU, and Grove decided to follow in their footsteps because he liked the Mennonite community and the size of the school, and was “curious and interested” in EMU’s brand-new engineering program.

Longenecker also learned about EMU from his parents, who raised him living across the street from the school in Harrisonburg. “Always good at math and science,” Longenecker considered pursuing architecture, but was ultimately swayed by EMU’s close-knit community, small size, and new engineering program.

Dylan Grove (left) and Collin Longenecker (right) teamed up with other EMU engineering students to create a poster about the Engineers for a Sustainable World stationary bike project. Grove was one of two students to participate in the American Society for Engineering Education’s Zone 2 Conference in March 2017, winning first-place among 61 projects in the the first- and second-year undergraduate design team division. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

While at EMU, Longenecker and Grove participated in the Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) club, collaborating on a stationary bike project that took top honors in an American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) poster design contest in 2017. Grove was a primary designer. The two also served as STEM Student Mentors through EMU’s Academic Success Center, tutoring freshmen students in specific engineering classes.

Collin Longenecker (front) had “fun” working on the Shell Eco-marathon team on its fuel-efficient vehicle entry. (Photo by Macson McGuigan)

Apart from their shared experiences, Longenecker worked as part of a team of 10 students to design and build an eco-marathon-bound supermileage car his senior year. “It was a lot of fun to dive headfirst into this massive new project that was spearheaded by a number of freshmen,” said Longenecker. Grove built a wind tunnel at EMU for his senior capstone project as an educational tool for the engineering department to teach fluid mechanics principles. “It was a fun, collaborative project with help from engineering faculty, STEM students, and Facilities Management,” shared Grove.

Dylan Grove (left) had the opportunity to apply what he learned as an intern at Ventrac to build a wind tunnel for EMU. (Photo by Jon Styer)

The wind tunnel project was sponsored by Ventrac, a tractor company out of Orrville, Ohio, where Grove interned the summer before his senior year and developed an interest in the manufacturing world. After graduation, however, Grove opted to stay local and accepted a job in the construction world as a mechanical engineer at Suter Engineering, a company specializing in HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) and plumbing design for commercial buildings in Bridgewater, Virginia. Grove worked on piping, plumbing and duct design that involved doing drawings and field inspections.

After three years, Grove was ready for a change. He called his friend and fellow engineer Longenecker, who had spent the last three years working as a project engineer at Classic Distribution. Longenecker had transitioned from a yearlong internship with Classic Distribution starting the summer of his junior year, where he “did mostly technical drawings,” to a full-time position at the company after graduation working on ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) implementation. In November 2022, Grove became a project engineer at Classic Distribution, where he occasionally works with Longenecker on ERP system projects, but primarily focuses on finding improvements for physical material handling and processing.

Both Longenecker and Grove appreciate their time at EMU. Longenecker says the engineering program taught him how to learn quickly, to teach, to work with people, and to schedule and execute a project. Grove says the program taught him how to think and problem-solve, and exposed him to a variety of different areas to draw on for professional success. Both cite the small class sizes with a personal approach to learning as valuable in helping to build relationships with professors and classmates—relationships they have been able to maintain to this day.

Discussion on “From classmates to colleagues: EMU engineering alumni Dylan Grove ’19 and Collin Longenecker ’20

  1. Congratulations to administrators, faculty, graduates, and current engineering students at EMU. I spent the year 1969/70 at EMC before transferring to an engineering college. I subsequently earned a BSCE from the University of Michigan and a MSCE from Purdue. I was delighted when I learned that EMU was planning to offer an engineering degree. And, I’m very pleased to witness the growth/success of same. Although I retired from classroom teaching in 2010, I’m still active promoting engineering uses of 3-D digital spatial data (geometry is my hobby – Descartes). The current wave of ChatGPT (and other AI implementations) opens up many exciting opportunities for engineering graduates.

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