Why did you decide to major in MAE?
As a child, I was fascinated by history. I was captivated by the tales of humanity’s great explorers, but disappointed that there were no unexplored lands left on Earth to discover. This urge to venture into the unknown led me to the field of human space exploration. The missions of Apollo-era astronauts incited the same excitement in me as stories of the western pioneers or the age of exploration. There is no frontier more awe-inspiring in its depths or infinite in its potential for exploration than space, and it is to this unknown that I want to devote my life’s work. I knew that the best opportunity to pursue my dreams would be the aerospace engineering major at UB.
What is your fondest memory so far at UB?
I have so many great memories of UB that it would be impossible to pick just one, but a favorite memory of mine was my first time tabling for an accepted students day at UB on behalf of the UB Nanosatellite Laboratory. I had put a tremendous amount of technical work into the research project within the lab, but it was even more rewarding experience to share it with incoming students so that they could one day have the same fulfilling experiences that I had. I always have really enjoyed my opportunities to spread the word about the opportunities available at UB and to perform STEM outreach so as to help develop the scientists and engineers of tomorrow.
What is your favorite thing about living in Buffalo?
My favorite thing about living in Buffalo without a doubt is the food. My girlfriend and I have made an effort to be well versed in all the local offerings around us. We go to Duff’s for wings, Pearl Street Grill and Brewery if we want a nice meal out, and the Griffon pub if we want beer. I’ve also really loved how friendly and welcoming a community Buffalo is. Having worked on internship in California, Texas, Maryland, and Virginia, Buffalonians are by far the friendliest people I have ever had the pleasure of living alongside.
What was your involvement outside the classroom?
In addition to my commitment to my engineering experiences, I have also gotten involved in organizations on campus that participate in political activism and volunteering. I am currently the Vice President of the UB College Democrats. As a member of this club, I have participated in all the aspects of the organization’s mission. One aspect of the club experience is to engage in political discussions on a weekly basis regarding current events. Additionally, the club also routinely meets with local politicians and attempts to engage the student body in politics through voter registration drives and attending organized protests. Lastly, the club also engages in volunteerism. One example of this volunteerism occurred in the spring of 2017, where I and four other students helped maintain the lawns and gardens of a low-income community in downtown Buffalo. As the Vice President of the club this year, I will continue to strengthen these aspects of our club and increase student involvement within our society and community. I am also an active member of UB College Republicans. Although I do not hold conservative views personally, I believe it is extremely important to maintain a productive and civil dialogue with those you disagree with.
Were you involved in internships and/or undergraduate research? What was that like?
Currently I am the Program Manager of the University at Buffalo Nanosatellite Lab under Dr. John Crassidis. I have worked on this project in varying capacities (member, Co-lead of Attitude Control Systems, and now the chief leadership role) for my entire undergraduate career. My current duties entail personnel management, scheduling, budgeting and technical decision making for the satellite. I was also co-lead of the UB Microgravity Next project where we designed a tool for astronauts that we tested at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and I have also done work in the Industrial Engineering department on modeling worker fatigue in a manufacturing setting. My leadership experience on these research efforts have strengthened my technical and leadership skills. By working on these projects, I was confronted with real engineering problems that I had to solve. This greatly aided in my development as an engineer. As a leader on these project, I have learned how to effectively manage time and resources, coordinate personnel, and work to meet stakeholder expectations. These leadership skills will aid me in my time in the professional world. Additionally, the successful projects I helped lead through these programs have helped grow these organizations so that they can continue to attract promising students to UB and help develop them into talented engineers. Participating in these projects has been a demanding but thoroughly rewarding experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.
My internships in the Aerospace industry have aided in my development as an engineer, and given me experience that I will carry forward through my career. My experiences in electrical and environmental testing at Millennium Space Systems, design and construction of test support equipment at SpaceX, analysis and optimization of attitude control systems at NASA Goddard, and opto-mechanical design at NASA Langley, have given me considerable knowledge in a wide array of fields. They have also developed my skills in areas such as experimental design, and critical thinking that will aid me in my future endeavors. All these experiences were incredibly rewarding learning opportunities. I was very fortunate to be able to work on real flight projects at these organizations, which was the ultimate real-world experience in engineering. Additionally, it meant that my work was contributing to an actual spacecraft and therefore the goals of the organization as a whole. My communication skills and professionalism were also strengthened by my time in industry. I have applied all that I learned during these internships to both my classes and my projects back at school and will carry these technical and leadership skills with me through my whole career.
What makes your UB story unique or noteworthy?
My UB story is unique because I was able to come to this university with no prior knowledge and build on the opportunities available here to achieve once in a lifetime experiences. Unlike many of my peers, I had no prior experience with engineering before college. In spite of this, I was able to come to UB and jump right into engaging research. I learned from this research and used the experience I gained to go on to amazing internships all around the country. At these internships I worked alongside inspiring experts in the field and witnessed feats of engineering and ingenuity that I couldn’t have even imagined before coming to UB. I was also able to publish the research I worked on at UB and present it at the Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah and the IAA Symposium on Small Satellites in Berlin, Germany. Meeting the interesting professionals at these events, and sharing the research that UB allowed me to conduct was an amazing experience. The opportunities available to me at UB were what led to all these truly fantastic opportunities, and what I learned here will serve as a rock-solid foundation for my career going forward.
Aside from engineering, what else are you passionate about?
I have several passions outside of engineering. The first is politics because I feel that it is truly important for our generation to take an active role in shaping our society. I am also interested in music. Playing my guitar alongside my girlfriend who plays the fiddle, or in a band with my brothers who play the double bass and banjo, is extremely therapeutic for me after a hard day’s work.
What will you miss most about being a UB undergrad?
The thing I will miss the most about my time in UB undergrad is all the amazing people I have met. My peers and professors are the most intelligent, inspiring, and genuine people I have ever had the pleasure of working with, and I will sincerely miss them after I graduate.