Where are you from?
I am from Dewitt, Michigan. I started my undergraduate degree at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and came to UB the spring of my sophomore year.
Why did you choose UB?
I chose UB because of their strong engineering school and potential for research and post-undergraduate opportunities. As a student athlete on the UB women’s volleyball team, I also chose UB because of the team atmosphere and emphasis on academics as well as athletics.
What do you like most about engineering at UB?
I like UB’s dedication to its students with its extensive course offerings, extracurricular clubs, speaker seminars, and research opportunities. I remember when I first transferred being overwhelmed at first because of the large scale of the university. However, upon getting plugged into the community, I realized what makes UB unique is the ability to provide its students with the resources of a large university, combined with the personalized feel of a smaller school.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
I chose to go into engineering partly because of a few of my favorite teachers I had in high school. They helped me realize my passion for the fields of math and science, as well as a desire to understand the world around me and search for solutions to problems I encountered. This naturally led me to engineering and upon my first hands-on group project in college, I realized how rewarding it is to struggle through a complex problem and reach an answer with a group of people beside you. From that point on I knew that even though it would be challenging at times, getting my degree in engineering would be worth it!
What is your favorite place on campus?
My favorite place on campus would have to be Alumni Arena. After being a student athlete, so many of my memories and experiences, both good and bad, happened there. rom exciting wins to tough losses to countless practices, so much of my life the last few years took place there. I can vividly remember our last practice in the spring before we were told we would be going home due to COVID-19, and the first time we got to be back on the court playing. It really is true that you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone.
What are you working on right now?
I just started my first semester of my graduate program. I am involved with Dr. Javid Bayandor’s CRASH Lab (CRashworthiness for Aerospace Structures and Hybrids Lab). My main role for the lab this semester is working with the Tandem team concentrating on computational fluid dynamics.
What else do you do on campus?
I am working as a part-time student volunteer assistant with the UB women’s volleyball team. After playing the last two seasons as a team captain, I decided to come back and help this season because of how much I enjoy being around the team, the staff, and the sport of volleyball. This season is of special significance because a few weeks prior to preseason, one of our teammates was rushed to the hospital for the fight of her life in the ICU. To find out more about her story and how you can help, go here. She has a long journey ahead, but the outpouring of support and love from the Buffalo community has shown me again what is so special about this place.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
The project that I am most proud of was my work with Dr. Bayandor’s Space Mission Design course. We collaborated with a mentor from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab to design a terrestrial cryobot capable of proving the mission viability of a self-contained exploration of subsurface oceans on icy moons. This work allowed our team – me, David Edwards, Jack Gallagher, Olivia Garcia, Matt Kielma, and Nate Ruppert – to gain new experience in the process of engineering design in a team setting.
Following the completion of the course in the fall, our team entered the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Region 1 Conference. After the submission of our essay and team presentation, we placed 2nd in our region in the undergraduate team category. This recognition motivated our team as it showed us the ability we had to impact and gain exposure for our university because of the work we had done in the classroom.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about learning - I enjoy taking the time to discover and gain understanding whether its academics, athletics, or anything in between.
What are your future plans?
I plan to continue work in the mechanical and aerospace field as I complete my master’s degree here at UB, continuing my research with Dr. Bayandor in the CRASH Lab while furthering the representation of women in mechanical engineering.
Has there been a particular faculty or staff member that has been formative during your time at UB, and how so?
I am very thankful for the exposure and experience that Dr. Bayandor has provided for me and our team. His devotion to his students is something I greatly admire; he helps show us the path forward but allows us to do the work to get there ourselves. His guidance helped our team to succeed at AIAA regionals and his passion influenced me to decide to continue my research work with his lab at the graduate level.
Do you have any advice for prospective students, particularly fellow student athletes?
I would tell student athletes to take advantage of the resources available to them. Balancing both school and athletics at the collegiate level is incredibly difficult if you try and do it by yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, go to office hours, communicate with your professors and coaches, make friends in your major, and get tutoring for difficult classes. UB has amazing resources, but it is up to you to make the most of them. For both school and athletics, I would say get comfortable in the struggle. Neither is designed to be easy, and the only way to get better is to go through adversity. Learning to push through these hard times and see yourself to the other side allows for personal growth.
Lexi Nordmann received a 2021 Dean's Undergraduate Achievement Award from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.