An interview with Ray Huhnke, CABLE Faculty Mentor from Oklahoma State University.
Q: What university are you the Faculty Mentor for and what is your area of expertise?
Ray: University: Oklahoma State University
Expertise: I have a background and expertise in many areas of Biosystems Engineering. Related to the CABLE program, I am the Director of OSU’s Biobased Products and Energy Center and Associate Director of the South Central Sun Grant Program. Currently, my primary research areas include biofeedstocks logistics, biomass gasification and synthesis gas fermentation.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
My mental-health exercises involve lawn care and gardening, which keeps me in touch with my “farm boy” roots. Occasionally, my wife and I sneak away to do a little fishing.
What attracted you to becoming a mentor for the CABLE program and what do you hope to gain from your experience?
First, I was attracted to the CABLE program’s concept. As an educator in an oil state, I am always seeking ways to spread the Bioeconomy gospel. I also believed this would be an excellent opportunity to connect with colleagues across the country. As far as what I hope to gain, it is to cultivate another means to educate the OSU community as to the benefits of establishing a strong bioeconomy – even in Oklahoma. And what better way in doing so but through a student leader.
How do you think being a mentor for CABLE Student Delegates will impact their leadership development?
I would hope the positive aspects of my approach to leadership will be reflected in how the student tackles problem solving, time management, and builds and fosters collaborative relationships as she grows professionally.
If you could pass on any wisdom to CABLE Student Delegates, what would you share?
Given my 40 plus years in academia, I believe I have plenty of wisdom to share (unfortunately for my colleagues and students). The thoughts that come first to my mind are:
- Be a team player.
- Work continually on your communications – speaking and listening.
- There are no bad ideas - seek to understand.
- Never stop learning.
- You often learn more from your failures than you do from your successes.
- Treat everyone as you would like to be treated.
What is the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how is it valuable?
I was reminded that I needed to be more patient. Allow students time to formulate their own ideas. We all have our own learning styles and speeds. What is important is that we all reach a common point; and for this program, it is providing education on the opportunities for and the benefits of the bioeconomy.