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Co-op Winner Seeks New Homes
for Reptilian Roomies

Date: Nov. 11, 2002
By: Marianne Kunnen-Jones
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photos By: Dottie Stover
Archive: Campus News

Co-oping has been nothing but good news for UC Honors-PLUS senior Zach Osborne. It's proving to be not quite as auspicious for the 11 reptiles he keeps as pets.

Zach Osborne with boa Thanks to the opportunity to work through UC's cooperative education program, Osborne already has landed a job that will start shortly after graduation in 2003. The 22-year-old operations management major from Findlay, Ohio, has accepted an offer from his current co-op employer, GE Aircraft Engines - complete with a starting bonus. Given the present economy, Osborne believes that the co-op connection definitely gave him an advantage in his job search.

What's good job news on the job front for Osborne, however, means he will be finding new homes for the 11 reptiles he has collected over the past two years. The largest, a boa constrictor named Jaba, measures 8 feet long, which is just an estimate. "It's really hard to measure. You can't really say 'lay out here and stretch while I measure you," Osborne explained.

The others include two Standings Day geckos, a Madagascar giant green day gecko, a tiger barred salamander named Caesar, two bearded dragon lizards named Kate and Stub, a ball python named Agamemnon, a crested gecko, a three-foot columbia red tailed boa named Pentheus, a veiled chameleon named Nero and a leopard gecko named Hannibal. Although Osborne has months to go before he graduates, he has already started placing his scaly friends in new dwellings. He is finding it surprising how quickly new owners are stepping forward.

The job Osborne will start at GE's Operations Management Leadership Program in July will take him to new cities every six months. For reptiles, the change of venue and climate would not be such a good thing. But it's the same kind of variety Osborne has enjoyed while co-oping during the past five years at UC.

With the Honor-PLUS program at the College of Business Administration, he has co-oped at Chiquita and rotated through different units at GE Aircraft Engines. He also spent 40 days learning about European business by traveling with the Honors-PLUS program verseas. Osborne looks forward to rotating through four six-month assignments at different parts of GE Aircraft Engines in the future.

"It's going to be a great opportunity to go see places and find what it is like to live there."

Osborne made such a good impression during his co-op assignments at GE that he received "outstanding" ratings of 5 on a five-point scale in his last co-op evaluation from the company. "You could not find a higher degree of professionalism," one evaluator wrote.

The UC scholarship recipient is one of 58 co-op students across the nation who won General Electric's Student Intern Co-op Contribution Award for 2002. The winners included two other UC students besides Osborne: Meredith (Wood) Hasler, a civil engineering alumnus and Lakota High School grad, and Frank Wilson, an electrical engineering major and St. Xavier High School graduate. All winners were honored at GE's John F. Welch Leadership Development Center in Crotonville, N.Y. earlier this fall.

Osborne's award recognizes his work in re-organizing a complex system of racks for inventory at the GE Engine Services Distribution Center in Erlanger, Ky., where hardware for engine assembly is stored prior to its shipment in kits. "We have improved the way we handle our inventory through a series of process refinements. I have been working on optimizing the physical location of parts as well as several other projects," said Osborne.

According to his award nomination letter, the project will provide a very significant cost savings for GE Aircraft Engines.

"I can't figure out why anybody would not co-op, given the opportunity to do so," observes Osborne, a 1998 graduate of Findlay High School. "Most people who co-op get some sort of connection to find a job."

Zach Osborne at military museum in Paris, FranceBy co-oping through UC's Carl H. Lindner Jr. Honors-PLUS Business Scholarship Program, Osborne has sampled work life, with pay, at Chiquita Brands International Inc.'s corporate purchasing department, as well as in several different areas within GE Aircraft Engines. He also gained an international perspective by participating in an Honors-PLUS program that took him to visit more than a dozen companies and business executives in Europe, as well as NATO and the European Community headquarters.

"Overall, I would rate my educational experience at UC as great! I have had the opportunity to really get involved and take advantage of some phenomenal programs that I don't think I would have found at other schools," Osborne said.

In between his part-time job at the UC College of Law library, his co-op jobs and his studies, Osborne still finds time for another powerful influence in his life: Boy Scouting. In 1998, he earned his Eagle Scout, a level achieved by less than 2 percent of scouts. This feat required to him undertake a series of requirements, including earning 21 merit badges and completing a significant service project. Osborne chose to complete his project work at a local volunteer run recycling center.

In Cincinnati's Clifton neighborhood near campus, he continues to serve as an assistant scoutmaster with Troop 161. "It gives me the opportunity to give back to the organization from which I learned so much," said Osborne, who also finds time to give UC campus ours through Admissions for prospective students and is serving his second year as president of the CBA Tribunal.

When it comes to his other hobby - the one with the reptiles - Osborne tries to use some of the same common sense that Boy Scouting has taught him. He makes sure he never handles the largest boa, Jaba, alone. He doesn't put the snake around his neck either. "It would be capable of killing me, pretty quickly. I always have a friend watch out," he said. "Generally a snake doesn't bite you unless it's self defense or he thinks you're a food item. Generally speaking, I'm not seen as a food item."

Despite his unappetizing appearance, Osborne was once bitten by his smallest snake. He feeds the little serpent dead mice, but in order to entice the snake to eat, the deceased mouse must appear to be alive. This requires that Osborne dangle the rodent on tongs to create motion. When one mouse fell off the tongs into the boa's box, Osborne couldn't leave it there because the mouse would not have been eaten. So the snake keeper reached in to pick it up. Pentheus got confused and zapped his owner on his knuckles. Fortunately there was no venom to worry about.

The ball python once escaped from his cage while Osborne was at work and his roommate located it, wrapped around a warm part of the refrigerator: the compressor. Since he didn't want his roommate to risk getting bitten, Osborne was obliged to tell the vice president at Chiquita that he had to leave work early because he had "a snake in my fridge."

Although Osborne is somewhat saddened about parting from his collection of reptiles, he admits it's not quite like saying good-bye to a dog or a cat. "I enjoy them because they are generally low maintenance, and they are very unique, but I don't think they show affection like your average house pet."

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