Why did you choose to participate in a STEM program?
I always enjoyed math and science and I was good at it. I wanted to be in a meaningful career where I felt every day I was doing something to impact the world and solve the problems in the world around me. With engineering, that’s what you’re doing. You’re solving real world problems. I wanted to see the impact of my work as an engineer.
How did you decide which STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) field was right for you?
I chose mechanical engineering, because I wanted to work in renewable energy. That’s very mechanical-focused, with the mechanical parts of those systems and power generation. Those topics are all engineering heavy. I decided to go into industry to design and build systems to be able to see a final product as opposed to focusing on research.
What is a typical day like in your engineering program at Syracuse University?
I go to class in the morning, and I have a few hours for lunch and working on homework. In the middle of the day, I work on writing assessment reports or have meetings for my job at the Industrial Assessment Center (IAC), which is a student-run, Department of Energy sponsored program which provides energy assessments for manufacturing facilities in the New York region. Several afternoons per week, I also meet with my senior design classmates to discuss our capstone project. We’re designing and building a guiding system to allow wheelchair users to secure themselves in a vehicle without assistance. Twice a week, I have classes in the evening, too. After that, I work out at the gym with the triathlon team. Then, I go home to make dinner or I grab food at one of the cafes on campus. After dinner, I do more homework either at home, in the library, or in the engineering study lounge. I try to get to bed in time to get a reasonable amount of sleep.
What has been the most memorable moment of your STEM program?
Being a mechanical engineer gives me an opportunity to work at the Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) on campus. It’s really cool to be able to go on site and visit manufacturing facilities and tell them on a case-by-case basis what they can specifically do better to save energy. That has helped me understand the concepts we’re talking about in class. And it also gave me the experience to get my internship at GE last summer and move forward in my engineering career. Once you actually go in and see a manufacturing facility, it helps you understand what you’re learning in class about manufacturing processes and energy use.
What advice do you have for teens looking at STEM degrees and/or career paths?
Try to get as much of a variety of experiences as possible. Take advantage of opportunities you have in high school to take basic engineering classes or participate in college summer programs to explore the different careers you can go in to. Once you find that one thing you’re passionate about, that’s how you know you should stick with it. If there are any issues you see in the medical field, in the environmental field, or others, know that if you go into a career in STEM, you can be one of the people who makes an impact on these issues and develops new technologies to solve these problems currently facing the world.