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As early as age two or three, precocious Tristan Reiheld was making exotic objects with his Lego collections.
And he advanced with age to other projects. When he was 8, he undertook completely disassembling a broken vacuum cleaner, eventually getting it back together and once again in perfect running order.
As an early teenager, he spent hours on his dad's property between Danville and Jelloway, driving ATVs and working on cars and trucks. "We'd drive the ATV out into the woods, hills and fields, and it would break down. We'd fix it where it broke and drive it back home."
He credits his mechanical virtuosity to his parents, keeping him supplied with the latest version of Legos when he was 2 and 3.
He even took an engineering-related Lego class, offered through the University of Akron offices in Millersburg, when he was 11.
When he got to Loudonville High School, the son of William Reiheld of Danville and Lisa Reiheld of Loudonville stepped into the recently created STEM program. The program was established the year before to increase opportunities for students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.
An offshoot of the STEM program is the robotics class/team. Tristan served as an original "player" on the first LHS robotics team last school year as a junior. This school year, along with classmate Caleb Syler, he was a second-year robotics student and team captain for the award winning program.
"The STEM program suited me to a T," Reiheld said. "The first STEM class, Introduction to Engineering Design taught by Mr. Ron Lance, provided me with the opportunity to use engineering computer programs, like Computer Aided Design (CAD), along with using the 3-D printer. I learned to develop CAD drawings to produce items with the digital printer. I had a knack for it, and Mr. Lance often had me show other students how to do it. Highlight of the years was drawing parts of a train and then animate a movie of the train driving down a track."
Influencing his engineering proclivities was Tristan's mother, a mechanical engineer herself working primarily on plumbing projects for a Cleveland firm.
"She told me that as a freshman I was working on projects in STEM classes that she didn't get exposed to until her sophomore or junior years of college," he said. "A thing that. was really interesting was to find out how she would approach an engineering project, especially using CAD software."
He lists his favorite teachers at LHS as Mr. Josh Miller, who served as his robotics teacher/coach, and Mr. Dan Weber, who he has taken chemistry, physics and engineering development and design, the final of five STEM classes offered at LHS.
STEM classes clinched his decision to further study engineering.
And he will follow his mother's footsteps by studying at Utah State University in Provo.
"My parents lived in Utah for 15 years, and both me and my sister, Taylor, a year younger, were born there," Reiheld said. "Mom went to school there and was very impressed with the program, so, along with applying at several Ohio schools, I applied to Utah State.
"Utah State was attractive because in addition to an outstanding engineering program, the Utah out of state tuition rate was extremely low, about the same as Ohio's in-state rates," he said for. "They they offered me a discount, because of my ACT scores and high school GPA, that amounted to 70 percent off the regular rate, only $5,700 a year!"
He'll major in mechanical engineering, with an emphasis on computer assisted engineering.
"A lot of the students there end up in aerospace engineering, and I could see doing that too," he added.
In the meantime, he is working three jobs this summer, full time for Dennis Morgan's 1,200 Foot Ltd., manufacturing hydraulic pumps and rebuilding axles; and part time delivering and setting up appliances for Kevin Lycans' Mohican Appliances, and working at his grandmother, Florence Lowe's restaurant, Hanover House, where he has worked several years, starting off as a dishwasher but now doing practically everything, including work as a grill cook.
At LHS he was also a member of the marching band, playing the cymbals and base drum.
He was an Eagle Scout in Danville/Howard Troops 340 and 344, building an outhouse at Apple Valley's Camp Cornish as his Eagle project.