Balancing act

Emily Chambers
April 27, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As Greg Zuber makes his way to the mouth of the tunnel under Beaver Stadium, he can hear the roar of the crowd. His pounding heart slows and his nervousness is replaced with excitement. No more thinking. After hours of practice he doesn’t have to, everything comes instinctively. He marches out, under the bright stadium lights, to more than 100,000 fans cheering for him ... and his 309 other bandmates.

Zuber, a senior industrial engineering student, has played the trumpet in the Penn State Marching Blue Band since his freshman year. His love for the instrument goes all the way back to elementary school. He joined his school’s band in fourth grade after seeing how much fun his friends were having in it.

“I originally didn’t want to be in the band because I didn’t want to miss the class time once a week for practice,” said Zuber. “What a nerd, right?”

Though he enjoyed band, Zuber never saw himself continuing with it after high school, until he saw a college marching band play.

“After seeing that performance I realized that band was something I wanted to continue to pursue,” he said.

After that, a marching band program became one of Zuber’s criteria in his college search. Also on the list were: school spirit, a passionate sports following and a highly ranked engineering program. Naturally, Penn State made it onto the list. While on his first visit to University Park, he liked the sense of community on campus and knew Penn State was the right place for him.

His interest in math and science drove him to pursue a degree in engineering, while his social personality and organized nature centered him on the industrial engineering (IE) major. While other engineering majors are very specific, industrial engineering combines many different disciplines and the scope of the work is larger. Zuber is particularly interested in the systems and management aspects of the major. 

“I am a very social person,” he said. “I enjoy working with people and so the management aspect of IE really interested me.”

Some of Zuber’s favorite engineering courses were taught by one of the department’s ergonomics and human factors professors, Andris Freivalds. In Freivalds’ courses, students study the effects industry processes have on the human body and how to increase safety while reducing injury.

Zuber’s engineering interests don’t solely lie in human factors, however. As vice president of the Penn State chapter of the American Foundry Society, he enjoys working in a factory setting as well.

Through his multiple internships, Zuber has been able to experience the different opportunities IE has to offer. During the summer of his freshman year, he interned with Radiant Energy, ordering electrical parts based on technical drawings, assisting engineering staff with pre-shipment testing and performing assembly tasks with shop workers. The next summer he interned with Donsco Inc., where he worked alongside quality engineers. There he helped develop a method for testing the relationship between the addition of treatment powders and defects in gray iron castings.

His final internship, during the summer of 2015, was with John Deere. Zuber spent the summer in the maintenance department of the company’s Large Tractor Division rewriting and improving technical language of preventative maintenance plans. He spent his days communicating with maintenance workers to learn how each machine worked and how to make the maintenance process more efficient. He then reported his progress to management at weekly meetings.

“To me, growing as an engineer is more than just learning more about classroom topics,” Zuber said. “It’s fundamentally about how engineering is applied to real work and being the best employee you can be to help the company.”

Zuber enjoyed his time at John Deere so much that he accepted a position with the company’s North Carolina Turfcare Operations Division, a job he will begin after graduating in May. He will be a part of the company’s Engineering Development Program in which he will complete three rotations in different focuses of the company to help him decide on a permanent focus for his career. This opportunity to explore the engineering field was one of the reasons Zuber decided to work for the company. He said the company's culture of caring for its employees and helping them continue to grow as professionals stood out to him.

During his time at Penn State, Zuber has taken advantage of opportunities to further the skills he has learned in the classroom. His involvement with the American Foundry Society has allowed him to gain hands-on experience with state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment. As a member of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers he has been a part of professional workshops, networking events and academic conversations about the industrial engineering field. 

“Being able to connect with other organizations has been great,” Zuber said. “I’ve learned so much from experienced professionals, and have also been able to share useful ideas with other engineering students.”

Academics are important to Zuber. He prefers not to procrastinate and works on assignments ahead of time; however, he acknowledges the importance of branching out from schoolwork and finding a balance. Besides being a member of Blue Band, Zuber plays intramural soccer and floor hockey, is a Penn State men’s ice hockey season ticket holder and in his spare time enjoys reading anything from autobiographies to science-fiction novels.

While talking with him, it becomes clear the Blue Band holds a special place in Zuber’s heart. He even professes that he can get “really excited” and can go on and on about it. The Blue Band has offered Zuber unique opportunities to play in front of thousands of people and travel to five states.

One of the highlights of Zuber’s Blue Band career was performing during the Pinstripe Bowl in 2014. As a born and raised diehard New York Yankees fan, the experience of marching on the same field where his baseball heroes have stood was emotional for Zuber. The stakes were especially high because it was the first time Penn State had played in a bowl game since the NCAA placed a postseason ban on the football program in 2012.

“The crowd seemed extra loud that night,” Zuber said. “The lights shone so bright on our pregame show that I was overwhelmed with emotions. We had finally arrived at a bowl game, after being told as a freshman I would never get the opportunity to perform in one. It is by far one of the best shows I’ve ever been a part of in my life.”

Zuber says one of the best parts of being in Blue Band has been the people he has shared the experience with. The band has given him the opportunity to meet students from different backgrounds and majors, some of which have become his close friends. Zuber says he will miss his network of friends the most when he graduates. However, he plans on coming back to Penn State for football games and reconnecting with those he can.

“I never thought marching band would mean as much to me as it does,” Zuber said. “I have been given so many opportunities and have been able to experience them with some of my best friends. It has really rounded out my time at Penn State, which has been the greatest performance of all.” 

  • Zuber pouring molten aluminum into a foam cast during one of the Lost Foam Foundry Night events held this semester in the Factory for Advanced Manufacturing Education.

    Zuber pouring molten aluminum into a foam cast during one of the Lost Foam Foundry Night events held this semester in the Factory for Advanced Manufacturing Education. The events are hosted by the Penn State student chapter of the American Foundry Society.

    IMAGE: Penn State
  • Greg Zuber on the Beaver Stadium field before a home football game.

    "To say marching out of the tunnel is exciting would be an understatement. It’s downright euphoric," said Zuber.

    IMAGE: Penn State
  • Zuber during his summer 2015 internship at John Deere.

    Zuber during his summer 2015 internship at John Deere.

    IMAGE: Penn State
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Last Updated May 02, 2016