University of Washington
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, 2012
NASA Academy Research Project:
Extraterrestrial Soil Mechanics for Excavation and Bulk Solid Material Handling
Dr. R. A. Wilkinson
I believe life is about making a lasting and positive impact on the world. I have always loved engineering because it blends creativity with technical ability, and it combines thought-provoking theory with rewarding physical application. However, it is my dream to change lives that has continually pushed me to work hard and never give up. In fact, even my interest in space has been inspired by the world-changing work that is constantly being done at NASA. I owe both my success and my outlook to my father, who taught me to always do my best in every endeavor I undertake. Every day, I try to remember that anything is possible if it is attacked with optimism, enthusiasm, and commitment.
Education and Research Experience
I decided to attend the University of Washington in 2008 after graduating with honors from Snohomish High School. Acceptance into the mechanical engineering program was always my goal, but along the way it was the non-engineering classes that had some of the biggest influences on my education. For example, a writing class gave me the unique opportunity to teach English as a second language to a group of adults in a Seattle neighborhood, which is a learning experience I will never forget.
After earning acceptance into the ME department, I started searching for research, and during my sophomore and junior years I was lucky enough to work in the Multifunctional Materials Lab under the mentorship of Professor Jiangyu Li. I assisted graduate student Feiyue Ma with his research regarding the implementation of nanofibers to improve the efficiency of thermoelectric materials. Some of my initials tasks included synthesizing solutions and utilizing the electrospinning method to create nanofiber samples. Eventually, I took on my own project, which was to design and manufacture an experimental measurement system to test the Seebeck coefficients and electrical conductivities of nanofiber samples at high temperatures. Everyone I worked with allowed me ample creative freedom, while at the same time taught me invaluable lessons. I recently presented my research at the 2011 University of Washington Undergraduate Research Symposium, and I plan to continue aspects of this research next year as a part of my senior capstone project.
One of my greatest joys is spending a sunny afternoon on an empty golf course with a nine iron and a cooler of food. It is a great chance to let my imagination contemplate outlandish inventions and mind-boggling theories. Actually, I love any time that I can spend outdoors, whether it be camping, fishing, or traveling. My love for the outdoors probably comes from my time in Boy Scouts, where I earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 2008. Since freshman year, I have been a member of the UW table tennis team and have competed against other colleges at regional tournaments. Also, I speak a very small amount of Chinese, but enjoy practicing and learning new words whenever I can.
I have many engineering interests, and at NASA this summer I hope to gain a better understanding of the specific fields I am going to pursue. After I receive my Bachelor’s degree in 2012, I plan to continue studying Mechanical Engineering in graduate school at the UW. As of now, I see myself with a career centered around alternative energy, with a focus on design, either with NASA or a small emerging company with lots of promise. Also, someday when I retire I want to open up a small neighborhood sandwich shop.