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What's in a name?

“Are you brothers?”

Understandably, Ohio State Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) undergraduates Ryan and David Scherer get asked this question a lot. They don’t mind.

“This has been, and will always be, my favorite question asked during my time at Ohio State,” Ryan said. “We are, in fact, not brothers, but it feels like we are.”

“I often joke that we’re brothers in engineering,” David said. “But the fact that we have the same last name is actually complete coincidence.”

Sharing names made for a good conversation starter when they first met during sophomore year, but the two soon learned how much they actually had in common. They took the same classes; had the same passion for engineering.

Ultimately, their work as co-presidents within the Ohio State branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) helped teach them the true meaning of teamwork as well.

On April 6, the IEEE hosts the 2015 Student Activities Conference (SAC) at Ohio State. Planning the event takes a good deal of work to bring it all together. Members are still welcoming sponsors from alumni and friends of the ECE to help fund the event. To do so, visit http://bit.ly/1BRtFel

The SAC hosts student IEEE branches from six different states in this region. The student participants meet and engage in leadership training, student paper competitions, robotics competitions and other competitive events. The conference serves as an opportunity for members to meet, interact, exchange ideas and network. The conference also includes a career fair so members can find opportunities after graduation.

“I wanted to help the group be able to accomplish as much as possible. It’s my hope that when I leave Ohio State, the work I did in IEEE will help provide future students with even more opportunities to learn and grow as engineers,” Ryan said.

“IEEE has always been about connecting ECE students to a larger network of engineers around the world … encouraging its members to pursue their dreams with passion and purpose,” David said.

Just like real brothers, the Scherers joke and harass one another for fun. But they also discovered they could just as easily sit down and challenge each other as engineers.

“I know I can count on him and I make sure that he can count on me,” Ryan said.

“We’ve had a great time calling each other on to greater things, both in class and in extracurriculars like IEEE,” David said.

Just like any family, however, life eventually widens the distance. The two graduate from the ECE this year. After that, David begins his career as a systems engineer for Harris RF in Rochester, New York. Meanwhile, Ryan heads out to Denver, Colorado to become a systems engineer with United Launch Alliance.

Ryan said he chose a degree in ECE because his father, Bruce, was also an electrical engineer.

“I’d say he’s the reason that I went with electrical over the other disciplines. In the end, engineering gives me the amazing combination of doing something that I love, working in a technical field that I find interesting, with the potential opportunity to really make a positive change in the world," he said.

David also sees the wider perspective that electrical engineering offers.

“In our world, many of the great challenges we face are electrical in nature. From finding sustainable energy solutions, to updating our power grid, to improving our communication systems, there’s so much need today for great problem solvers," he said.

Being an engineer, David said, makes him feel part of the solution.

For now, the two are excited about seeing the upcoming SAC event fully-realized.

“The chance for electrical engineering students across the country to come together for professional development, collaboration and friendly competition comes rarely. It’s one of those things in college you’ll look back on and realize ‘I’m really glad I was part of this.’” David said.