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Operations Management senior emerging leader in his field

Published: 2013-09-05

Ryan Barta

What thrills Fisher faculty the most about Ryan Barta, a senior majoring in operations management and aviation management, is the fact that he is not only using his Fisher education to launch his career. He has also found ways to apply the lessons he learned at Fisher to the ideals he is most passionate about in life, such as the environment, technology and music.

For more than a year, Barta, a member of The Ohio State University Marching Band, and his band mate and computer science student, Charlie King, have been on a mission to get TBDBITL to go green by using iPads and a suite of applications that allow the band staff to convert several dozen pages of sheet music and on-field marching choreography into a digital format.

Now, that hard work is paying off.

Ohio State’s Office of Sustainability gave the marching band $25,000 to obtain iPads to be used by squad leaders, staff and directors to begin to reduce the amount of money the music department spends on paper and show packages.

The innovative use of the iPads have garnered Barta, King and the band both local and national media attention.

But an interesting part of their story is what happened behind the scenes, faculty say. The students have succeeded in bringing together diverse units from across the university to work together.

“They worked with and gave presentations to Ohio State’s Office of Sustainability, the offices of eLearning and chief information officer, as well as the Marching Band’s leadership and the department chair for the School of Music,” said Andrea Prud'homme, who has known Barta since his freshman year. The senior is also chief financial officer of the Buckeye Operations Management Society (BOMS).  Prud'homme, who currently has Barta in her course,  is the society’s faculty advisor as well.

Last Spring, Barta also sought out the help and advice of another Fisher faculty member, Aravind Chandrasekaran, assistant professor of management sciences. Barta took Chandrasekaran’s Management of Technology and Innovation course.

“In my course, students are required to do a project,” he said. “He was working on the iPad project independently beyond the project he was doing for my course. These guys had a fantastic idea coming in; all I did was point them in the right direction and help them refine it.”

Chandrasekaran said he suggested to the students that they do more work developing the feasibility of their idea and think small. “I told them to think in terms of how you would sell this to a venture capitalist to get some funding,” he said. “I also suggested bringing together both the ideas of  innovation and sustainability in their business plan.”

Although the students have received much attention for their efforts, they believe their work is not done.

Barta said his goal is to see all 225 members of the Marching Band with iPads next year.

Bloomberg Businessweek   Ohio State Marching Band Plays a Money-Saving Tune

The Chronicle of Higher Education   Ohio State U. Band Marches Ahead of the Curve with iPads