Dr. Diana Phillips would like to entice some Cimarron County students to attend her school in Michigan.

Phillips is an Environmental Chemistry professor at Kettering University, Flint, Mich. The school derives it's name from Charles Kettering, an early vice-president of General Motors and the man who invented, among other things, the electric starter used on automobiles.

Phillips, now married to Alan Griggs, is the widow of the late Richard “Dick” Phillips, a Boise City graduate.

“I used to come out here with my late husband and fell in love with this place. When Dick died he wished to be buried at Wheeless and I met Alan then when looking for a caterer,” she explained.

The couple, each recently widowed, corresponded and recently married.

Kettering University is a Co-op school, which allows it's faculty to be off one semester a year.

“Each of our students (there's just over 2,800) have to have cooperative agreement with an employer. We have students that work at GM, Ford, more that 600 employers. One-half of the students are on campus at a time, while the other half work. This gives our students a leg up when they graduate because they will already have two and one-half years work experience when they graduate. In fact, they must complete a Bachelor's Thesis with the company for whom they work to graduate,” Phillips explained.

The school's classes are small, usually 12 to 20 students per class; however, when Phillips returns to Flint in January, she'll have just three students.

The school, which in it's infancy was a part of General Motors, has ten different degree disciplines mostly engineering and including management.

“Right now, we are really working hard on fuel cells,” Phillips said.

According to Phillips a fuel cell might work with such things as hydrogen and oxygen, perhaps even splitting a water atom and deriving both gases. Upon burning the hydrogen for power, water would once again be a by-product, thus making the process clean and regenerative.

“This is electrochemistry,” Phillips said. There would be no CO2, so there's no greenhouse gas produced; and there will be no CO either, so you won't be killing the passengers either,” she smiled.

“I'm trying to interest some kids from Cimarron County in attending Kettering; some asked for more information at the career day,” Phillips said hopefully.

Phillips explained that Kettering graduates quite often begin their postgraduate careers with the very companies (for who they Co-oped), but that others have been placed with such agencies as the CIA, FBI, Los Alamos Nuclear Labs and a variety of prescription drug manufacturers.

“In fact, I had a guy walk in here (The Merc in Kenton) who worked for Pfizer [pharmaceuticals] and he's going to contact the school about Co-oping,” she grinned.

Phillips received her Bachelor's Degree from Youngstown State [Ohio] and at the urging of one of her instructors (her future husband Dick Phillips) she picked up her Doctorate at his Alma Mater, the University of Texas.

After she graduated from UT, Phillips worked for IBM before becoming a college professor.

As a part-time resident of Cimarron County, Phillips hopes to eventually establish a for-profit, private lab near Kenton for a twofold reason; she loves the area and wants to stay, and she'd like to bring a sort of “Science Outreach” to the area, hoping to inspire local students.

“Quite often I find we have kids with no dreams. I find that sad,” Phillips explained.

 

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