Olivia Gustafson

Hometown: Clifton Park, NY

“I chose engineering because it was practical, and through the connections I made and the clubs I joined, I found my niche and made the school and department my new home.”
Olivia Gustafson
Aerospace Engineering

Why did you choose to attend UB?

I chose UB because it had the best quality of education for the most affordable price. I knew I wanted to go for engineering, but not which discipline, and here I was able to spend time figuring out which department fit my interests best! As a bonus, Buffalo is a really cool city with a lot of things to do outside of school.

Why did you decide to major in MAE?     

I chose MAE because of the quality of research conducted and opportunities available to students. I've never been the best at math or physics, but I love science fiction and I want to be a part of the industry that made the dreams of sci-fi a reality.

What is your favorite thing about living in Buffalo?

The food and sports culture! I was never one for football, but moving here turned me into a lifelong Bills fan (for better or for worse).

What was your involvement outside the classroom? (i.e. student clubs, athletics)

I did a little bit of everything while at UB. I was the Program Manager of a NASA-funded satellite mission in the Nanosatellite Lab, secretary of the UB Chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and volunteered regularly with WiSE and SWE. I also became the Engineering Council Coordinator this year, in which I worked for the undergraduate student association and oversaw all of the engineering clubs on campus. I even got to plan all of this year's Engineering Week, including Bot Wars and Engineering Ball! I made a point to get involved in things outside of class, and it helped make my experience here much more diverse and enjoyable.

Were you involved in internships and/or undergraduate research? What was that like?

I held a research position in Dr. Ringuette's bio-inspired aerodynamics lab. I also worked at NASA Wallops Flight Facility as a software test engineer one summer. Research and internships are very different, and both helped me get a better idea of the kind of work I wanted to do once I graduated.

What makes your UB story unique or noteworthy?

I came here as a transfer student halfway through freshman year without a real plan for what I wanted to do. I switched majors several times, and even wanted to go to school for art at one point. I chose engineering because it was practical, and through the connections I made and the clubs I joined, I found my niche and made the school and department my new home.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be working as a Satellite Engineer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I'll be working on climate satellites! In a few years, I hope to return to school for a graduate degree in engineering.

What will you miss most about being a UB undergrad?

I'm going to miss the community. Everyone I've met here has impacted my life, and leaving it all behind will be extremely difficult. Once a Bull, always a Bull! 

What is your advice to current and incoming MAE students?

Get involved early! Not only will it boost your resume, it will introduce you to the people that become your best friends. Clubs and research allow you to apply everything you've learned in class to real life problems. There's something here for everyone, whether it's engineering related or not.