My interest in engineering and space exploration began when I watched the landing of one of the MER rovers, Spirit. But it wasn’t until high school that I had the opportunity to participate in hands-on engineering.
During my time at Aviation High School, I was fortunate enough to be on a FIRST robotics team for four years. A key engineering mentor on the team, Ken Zaballos, works for Boeing in the research and technology division. Ken was a tremendous role model for how a professional engineer should look and act. In addition to having a tremendous wealth of knowledge within the mechanical engineering field, Ken has an insatiable curiosity for new knowledge and a passion for teaching younger people. I found him to be really inspiring.
After high school, I knew I wanted to study mechanical engineering in college, but because of financial constraints, my choice was narrowed down to the University of Washington. By the time I reached my sophomore year at UW, I was deeply unhappy with the education I was receiving. I really wanted smaller class sizes and more personal relationships with my instructors. After touring SPU and meeting Dr. Arabian, I knew that SPU would be a fantastic fit for me. To this day, I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my personal happiness and for my educational growth.
One of the highlights of my time in the ECS department at SPU has been being part of the Baja SAE team. The SPU Falcon Racing Baja SAE team is a collegiate engineering design group that designs, builds, tests, and competes with a single-seat, off-road racecar. The team is based on the dedication and hard work of undergraduates from all disciplines of engineering, business, and economics faculties. This past year was our first year competing and we actually did the best of all schools in the state! The competition itself was held in Gorman, California, last April, and there were over 100 other schools present.
Overall, my experiences at SPU and within the ECS department have been extremely positive. The faculty within the ECS department are some of the most intelligent, caring, and humble people I’ve ever met, and they are excellent instructors. Within the department, you will be challenged, and come out on the other side as a better student and engineer.
There have been many faculty at SPU who have had a very positive impact on my life, both in terms of exploring my faith, and my growth as an engineer. Specifically within the ECS department, Dr. Arabian has left a positive impression on me in many ways. He was instrumental in helping found the SPU Falcon Racing Baja SAE team, and he remains the faculty advisor for the program to this day. In addition, he teaches classes at SPU, works for nonprofits, does 3D printing and prosthetics research, and makes time for any students in the ECS department who may have questions. I was fortunate enough to have him as the advisor for my senior design project, and I learned much from him about problem solving and leadership.
I think my faith has grown a lot during my time at SPU, especially within the UFDN and UCOR series. One of the most interesting courses I’ve taken in college thus far was UCOR 3000 Faith, Philosophy, and Science, which considers the question, “What do I believe, and why do I believe it?”
Being at SPU has opened my eyes to other aspects of engineering, and I’ve discovered new passions during my time here. After graduation, I plan on going into a career in aerospace, but I can also see myself working in the sustainable development, energy, or automotive sector someday.