Where are you from?
Long Island, N.Y.
Why did you choose UB?
I chose to come to UB because it is one of the few universities in New York state that offers a BS in aerospace engineering that is highly recognized and at a reasonable price.
What do you like most about engineering at UB?
The great support that UB gives to engineering clubs, undergraduate research and projects. Thanks to these hands-on opportunities, I have been able to gain valuable experiences that have set me apart and have helped me earn internship offers for this upcoming summer.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
I am the kind of person who likes to understand how things work. However, I also like to use that knowledge to come up with creative ways to make such things better. So, I figured engineering would be the perfect fit for me, especially in the aerospace industry, where it’s all about making things more efficient and better. Engineering gives me the opportunity to use my knowledge to create new things that would be capable of making airplanes better.
What is your favorite place on campus or in Western New York?
My favorite places on campus are the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) lab, Walter Kunz Stadium, the Stevens Center, the fitness gym, and Silverman and Lockwood libraries.
My favorite place in Western New York is Niagara Falls.
Tell us about your campus and/or community involvement.
Last year, I was the lead of an engineering intramural project through the Experiential Learning Network that created a quadcopter, from scratch, that carried an unmanned ground vehicle to perform a reckon-based mission. I was also involved with the AIAA chapter here at UB. I was part of the team that built an 8-foot wingspan RC aircraft in the Design, Build and Fly competition hosted by Textron in Wichita, Kan. I developed the payload delivery’s control system and helped build and assemble parts of the plane, such as the nose cone, control surfaces and fuselage.
This year, I am the co-captain of the Design, Build and Fly team for the 2022-2023 competition that will be hosted by Raytheon Technologies in Tucson, Ariz. I am developing many soft and technical skills.
Tell us about your LAUNCH-UAS experience at Iowa State University.
LAUNCH-UAS is a Research Experience for Undergraduates program offered by Iowa State and funded by the National Science Foundation. It allows undergraduate students to perform research under faculty’s mentorship, and gives them a stipend to cover flights and housing.
Dr. Dae Young Lee, an assistant professor in Iowa State’s Department of Aerospace Engineering, selected me and Matthew Caulfield to be in the program under his mentorship. I was involved with Dr. Lee’s research focused on nonlinear model predictive control. He wanted to implement first-person-view camera feedback and artificial intelligence to develop a control system that would allow quadcopters to perform object tracking and following.
We modified the base control model in order to program the quadcopter to autonomously fly through 3D space points and detect ground objects underneath. We were also able to develop an image-processing-based control system that allows the quadcopter to autonomously follow a colored-marked flying object. The control system used a first person-view camera, image processing, and data collection and analysis to determine the specific movements that the drone must perform to follow the target object.
Thanks to this experience, I gained a deeper understanding of how dynamics are used to control moving objects, and acquired technical skills like flight data analysis, control derivatives identification, image processing and Simulink. I also learned how to work in a research-like environment, developing soft skills like professional writing, communication, research and the ability to work independently.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
There are many research and extracurricular projects that I’m proud of, but I would never have been able to do them if I did not overcome the challenges I faced to graduate high school.
I legally immigrated to the United States in October 2016. At the time I had minimal knowledge of English and did not know anybody there. Since I came late in the school year, I had to make up work and learn English at the same time. Under those circumstances, graduating from high school seemed super difficult to me. However, I learned from my parents that as long as I remained patient, worked hard and trusted the process, I would overcome any challenge. So, I did just that. I put in the work and time no matter how frustrating it would get. By the end of that year, I was fluently speaking English and able to pass all my regents. The year after, I graduated.
The experience of getting my high school diploma gave me a strong work ethic that has helped me earn awesome opportunities down the road. My experiences at UB, alongside my professional research experiences, have earned me scholarships such as the Lockheed Martin STEM Scholarship and the Great Minds in STEM (GMiS) Scholarship this year. Thanks to the GMiS 2022 conference, I’ve also received offers for a summer 2023 internship from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon Missiles & Defense. I would not have any of these opportunities and awards if I let the challenges I faced stop me from graduating high school.
What are you passionate about?
The things that I am the most passionate about are soccer and planes. I have always played soccer and am a big soccer fan as well. Planes just amaze me. I think that they are the best engineering marvels ever created. Their physics is insane and I love just learning about them.
Has there been a particular faculty or staff member that has been formative during your time at UB, and how so?
Dr. Andrew Olewnik and Melinda Somerville. They selected me to be part of the engineering intramural in which I designed and developed a drone and an autonomous car for a competition. They also supported my team by buying everything that we needed and helped us connect with people who have done the project before for guidance. The knowledge I learned during this project is most likely what made Dr. Lee select me for his drone-related research project in the LAUNCH-UAS program.
Also, my academic advisor, Dr. Bradley Darrall. He has helped me make sure that I am on track to graduating with a dual degree in aerospace and mechanical engineering. He has also shared a lot of insight information in regards to graduate studies and how I can increase my chances of getting funding.
What are your future plans or aspirations?
My career goal is to be the best aerospace engineer that I can be. My dream is to work in the design, development and test of specialized aircraft.
I must be as prepared as I can to reach my goal. My current plan is to get an MS in a specific field of aerospace engineering while working for an aerospace company after I graduate.