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Oxford and Beyond

“Everything I’ve learned at Miami, I have used”

Jon Ross '04 uses the tools and techniques he learned at Miami's College of Engineering and Computing in his thriving career as entertainer Jon Saxx.

Jon Saxx stands in Miami, Florida with his instrument
“Everything I've learned at Miami, I have used at one point or another, whether it was engineering or actually in music,” says Jon Ross '04, who goes by the stage name Jon Saxx in his music career.
Oxford and Beyond

“Everything I’ve learned at Miami, I have used”

“Everything I've learned at Miami, I have used at one point or another, whether it was engineering or actually in music,” says Jon Ross '04, who goes by the stage name Jon Saxx in his music career.

In 2004, Jon Ross walked across the stage to receive his diploma from Miami University’s College of Engineering and Computing. Today, many know him by his stage name, Jon Saxx. “It's like Clark Kent / Superman,” Jon explained during our recent interview, conducted via Zoom from his home base in Miami, Florida. “Jonathan Ross is my real name. And Jon Saxx is my stage name, my trademark, my logo and everything.” As a musician, Jon Saxx has opened for President Obama and President Biden, along with entertaining Miami (Florida) football fans each week at the Dolphins stadium. But, he says, it was his time studying engineering in Oxford, Ohio that truly set Jon Ross on a path for success.

Jon Ross '04 is featured in an image from the "I am Miami" campaign.As a Miami engineering student, Jon was involved with the National Society of Black Engineers, was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., played as a walk-on with the Miami basketball team, and interned with General Motors in Pontiac, Michigan as a lean manufacturing engineer. In this internship, Jon had the opportunity to see firsthand how the GMC Hummer vehicle was being converted from military to commercial use. “It was awesome,” said Jon. “I got to see how the Hummer was put together. All the intricate parts, all of it coming in from different plants all across the world.”

Immediately after graduating with his B.S. in Manufacturing Engineering, Jon was hired by Johnson & Johnson in the biomedical sector – thanks to a connection forged at a National Society of Black Engineers conference he attended while he was still an undergraduate.

“I went to the National Society of Black Engineers conference. I had interned with General Motors. I told them I had never really thought about medical devices. And they said, ‘Well, you are an engineer. You have the tools and techniques and the thought process to be an engineer, so you should be a good problem solver. So whether it's cars or whether it's medical devices, this should work. You should interview for the job.’” 

Jon did apply for the job, and got it. Through Johnson & Johnson, Jon traveled internationally, shadowed surgeons in hospitals, and witnessed the medical devices he worked on being used firsthand. “I used to watch our products being used. I'd work with our medical device team to see how they needed to train the doctors, and what obstacles they came up with, so that then I could take that back to manufacturing and help come up with a result that would make it an easier process for everybody across the board. I used every aspect of engineering that Miami of Ohio has taught me.”

Jon says that it was the hands-on nature of his education at Miami’s College of Engineering and Computing that helped him feel ready to dive into the workforce. “Not only do they give you classroom training, they also give you hands-on experience in that particular class so that you can have an idea of how the knowledge that you learned – those tools and techniques – can actually apply to a real-time project,” he said. “You start to understand the pattern, especially when you're applying it to something tangible that you can touch, feel, and see when you're in that teamwork environment. And that formula applies not only in the classroom, but outside of the classroom, in your job.”

In addition to hands-on learning, Jon also had a mentor at Miami that inspired him to succeed. “It helps to have a mentor,” said Jon. “I was a mentee of Dr. Osama Ettouney. He made engineering fun. He said, Look, it's gonna be hard, but you might as well have fun learning something hard. It made it fun and exciting. His energy was always just so amazing."

“Everything I’ve learned at Miami, I have used”

Jon Saxx plays the saxophone.So how did Jon Ross the engineer become Jon Saxx the entertainer? That journey began at a career fair – in the 4th grade.

“There was a teacher that played the saxophone and they demonstrated the saxophone. It was like love at first sight.” After starting to learn the instrument, Jon played saxophone in church. At Miami, he played saxophone for the Miami University Gospel Singers. He played in a college band, which went on to win Battle of the Bands at Miami. “It was always just a side thing just to kind of give me a relief from engineering, not really pursuing it full time,” said Jon on his early saxophone experience.

Having relocated to Florida as part of his Johnson & Johnson career, there eventually came a turning point for Jon. “I just thought, well, let me see what I can do. I've been doing it for fun, now let's see what I can do. And my first client was the Miami Heat, playing the national anthem. And because of that marketing and exposure, I got everybody else.”

By “everybody else,” Jon is referring to an impressive list of entertainment engagements. Jon Saxx has opened for President Obama, President Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris – not to mention entertaining for fans at all Miami Dolphins home games, the Miami Heat, the Marlins, and beyond.

“Everything I've learned in Miami, I have used at one point or another, whether it was engineering or actually in music,” said Jon. “I use the same tools and techniques that I used in engineering. The only thing that changed is the subject matter, which now is music.”

Jon’s experience at Miami gave him a foundation that taught him practical problem-solving based on logic and experiential learning. “You have the classroom setting and then you have the practical training where you actually have a project that you have to do. You can look back at the projects from before to see what other people are doing. You can brainstorm and think. If you apply yourself, you're going to learn.”

"The best representation of what love and honor really means"

Jon Saxx with his friends at a football gameAfter graduating from Miami University with his manufacturing engineering degree, Jon attended the University of Miami for a degree in project management. This experience has helped him become a passionate advocate for Miami University of Ohio and all he learned there. Just this past month, Jon was present for the Miami vs. Miami football game, known by many as the “Confusion Bowl.” 

I was there at the game for the Confusion Bowl,” said Jon. “Not a lot of people down here have ever met anybody that went to Miami of Ohio. I am their first. So I try to give them the best representation of what love and honor really means, what it really looks like.”

Networking is another aspect of Jon’s Miami experience that has positively impacted his professional career, both in engineering and in music. “Miami of Ohio has a strong network,” said Jon. “Anytime you're around Miami of Ohio people it's like an instant family reunion. I mean there's so much love and honor. I've been able to play for presidents because of the fraternity. Those doors that open on a national level and on a global level. Miami of Ohio alums look out for Miami of Ohio alums.”

One Miami alum in particular that Jon is grateful for is Seth Seward ’11, now Assistant Director Of Alumni Relations at Miami University. “I have to give a big shout out to Seth Seward,” said Jon. “He has been a good friend, good contact. He's amazing. He takes care of our kids and makes sure our kids get the full college experience. So I got to give a big shout out to him.”

Even though he lives and works in the “other” Miami, Jon also holds on to a fondness for on campus cuisine like the famous toasted roll. “Oh, my goodness. They'll change your life,” said Jon. “They’re one of Miami's known cuisines. You got to have that. And you got to go to SDS and get you a turkey grinder.”

Food aside, Jon is grateful for his college experience at Miami. “I really appreciate what Miami of Ohio did for me. The doors that opened, and the college experience I had was amazing.” That college experience has prepared him for a professional career infused throughout with the experience of love and honor.

You can learn more about the Jon Saxx experience at

Text by Katie Rottner, Director of Marketing and Communications for Miami University College of Engineering and Computing. All images © Jon Saxx Entertainment.