Engineering a Successful Future

Posted by Janae Melvin on August 9, 2016 in Braves, "Dennis Tyner", engineering, football 2016-dylan-wheeler039.jpg

For junior Dylan Wheeler of Holton, K.S., academics comes before athletics. He prides himself on his success in the classroom knowing that the hard work will lead him to the future he dreams of for himself. And, according to those who know him here at OU, the future for this Engineering major is going to be bright.
Wheeler arrived at Ottawa University in the spring of 2015, a transfer student from Highland Community College (HCC). He could have stuck around at HCC for his final semester and graduated, then transferring to Kansas State University to continue his education in engineering. It was a plan he was seriously considering and really the only option he thought he had. Then the OU football staff showed up on the HCC campus to recruit players for the 2016-2017 season, and his plans changed.
“OU had actually recruited me out of high school, but at the time they didn’t have an engineering program so I chose to go to Highland instead,” Wheeler said. “When OU came to HCC to recruit players, they told me they had an engineering program now and that sparked my interest. If I could keep playing football and get my engineering degree at the same time – that’s what I wanted to do.”
Wheeler and his father Matt came to campus for a visit and met with Dr. Dennis Tyner, dean of the School of the Health and Applied Sciences, who definitely had some influence on Wheeler’s final decision.
“Meeting with Dr. Tyner swayed me a lot. He is very charismatic. He has so much energy. It’s really nice having a professor like that in class.”
Wheeler went back and forth on what his decision would be, but ultimately he knew that Ottawa University was where he needed to be. He transferred and immediately began working with the football team.
“Dylan, I believe, embodies what we are striving to attract in a young man to our football program and to Ottawa University,” said head football coach Kent Kessinger. “In the short time I have known Dylan, his work ethic has been exceptional both on the field and in the classroom. He is a conscientious young man who is also highly competitive particularly within himself. He has an extremely bright future and will be a tremendous ambassador for OU football and our Engineering program.”
While at HCC, he studied science and pre-engineering. When he transferred to OU, he jumped right into the program with four engineering courses and Gospels, a required course for students at The College. For someone who has earned A’s throughout his academic career, he wasn’t quite prepared for what he encountered at OU.
“School work really wasn’t too hard for me growing up, so I was a little shocked when I started,” Wheeler said. “I had to adjust, it was definitely tough. I was taking Differential Equations, Thermodynamics, Physics II, and Discrete Mathematics, in addition to Gospels. I had to put a lot of hours in every day studying and I wasn’t used to that. I managed to get all A’s in the spring semester, but that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
After the spring semester, Wheeler was still one course behind the rest of his engineering classmates, so he suggested to Dr. Tyner a directed studies class over the summer. Every Wednesday, Wheeler would travel to campus to work out with the football team, then walk over to Ward Science Hall for his Circuits class. During class, Dr. Tyner assigned him his work for the week and answered any questions he might have. Wheeler did the work throughout the week on his own time.
“Dylan is highly intelligent,” said Tyner. “He has the ability to decipher large quantities of material, break it off piece by piece and understand the basics of how it works. He takes the material he learned in class and then takes the time, on his own, to gain a deeper understanding of what happened and why it happened; the math and science behind it. He’s a good critical thinker, very logical and has a good insight into problem solving. Take those components and combine it with his interpersonal skills, which he uses to effectively communicate with others, and he is going to be an exceptional engineer. He has a great future ahead of him.”
Wheeler has three years of football eligibility left and will suit up as a tight end when the Braves football season begins. And when that first game of the season kicks off, he will have a noticeable cheering section. The oldest of six, his family traveled to all his high school and HCC home and away games to support him. Wheeler had been an only child for 10 years, when his dad and stepmom Jennifer had his first sibling, Kadyn (10). Soon after followed Cooper (9), Camryn (7), Makayla (4) and Kennedy (2). His cheering section only gets larger when mom Jenny Degenhardt and step father Marc make the drive on Saturdays to watch him play football.
“My family has been amazing,” Wheeler said. “I feel so lucky. I have two families and I like that. They’ve all been so supportive and it means a lot to have them standing behind me and cheering for me.”
Wheeler also recognizes that he has five pairs of eyes looking up to him, watching his every move. He hopes they see him as a positive role model and someone they can strive to emulate.
“I do want to give my siblings some guidance and be there for them. But honestly, I also hope they all do better things than me.”
When his OU career ends, all Wheeler knows is that he wants to continue in electrical engineering. He wants to go to graduate school and figures the pieces will fall into place when they are supposed to, just like when he was deciding what to do after his HCC career ended. For now, he’s enjoying his time at OU and truly happy with his decision to become a Brave.
“I really like the environment here at OU,” he said. “There’s really good people here and that can be tough to find. This is a friendlier, family environment and that’s what I wanted. I wanted to be somewhere small, close knit, where you know everyone and can create a community. I like that.”