Where are you from?
Why did you choose UB?
I chose to go to UB because of the affordable cost for a high-quality education right here in Buffalo. There really was no other option!
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
I chose to go into engineering because I believe engineering is just a fancy way of saying helping people. If you are solving a problem, then you are solving it for someone that finds your solution valuable. So, engineers are really just in the business of helping people and I thought that it was awesome that I could be someone that helps others through solutions I helped design!
What do you like most about engineering at UB?
The thing I like most about engineering at UB is the diversity of my classmates. I believe it is important when working on awesome projects to have viewpoints from people with different life experiences because they may see the problem in a totally different way that I would have never thought of! I’ve worked with so many different people on many projects and it’s always exciting when someone I just met teaches me a new way to view a problem.
What is your favorite place on campus?
If my friends answered this, they would probably say the Capen Library! I’m pretty much always there but really, I love sitting in the space between all the engineering buildings. There are some benches there with some trees and it’s nice in the summertime. I love it there!
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I’m working on starting a startup company with two of my friends. It’s called Layer Slayers and we are a company that is all about helping makers to make. We’re working on awesome ways to lower the barrier of entry to becoming a maker. It’s exciting and scary but I’m learning a lot and thankfully getting to do something I enjoy. Learning is one of the most important things in life someone can do and I am taking a crash course on something every day now.
Other than the company, I just started a podcast called The Ultimate Bucket List Podcast. I live life by doing the things I want to do. It’s simple and naïve to say but in all seriousness, I want to fill my life with things I enjoy doing and those things don’t need to be expensive and grand travel trips around the globe. It could be as simple as reading, or going to your first basketball game, or going for hikes. Your bucket list and life should not be filled with a bunch of unachievable goals. You should fill your list of goals with things you want to do. So, every Wednesday morning, I interview someone on how they achieved a goal in their life that was really important to them.
What else do you do on campus?
I am a Venture Coach on campus with the Blackstone Launchpad team. This is where I listen to other students who have business ideas and problems within their businesses and give them advice on how to grow and solve issues. It’s always awesome to see the variety of things people are working on and starting businesses with! One day I might be helping a bakery and the next I might be talking to someone developing cutting-edge technology. Always awesome to meet these great people!
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about helping people. If there is some way that I can provide value for someone else, no matter what the problem they are facing is, I’d like to be able to do something about it. I also love to learn, currently, my long-standing learning goal has been to play the ukulele and actually get a song together on it! I try to always be a student whether I’m in school or not.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
A previous company that I tried to start was called StreetSweep. I won’t go into the details of what the company did but we eventually got the City of Niagara Falls to say they would let us pilot the product we were building. We did that with nothing more than being students and writing some convincing emails.
If I’m able to get that far with an okay idea and no experience, as I learn more and develop, I should be able to do anything I try to. That experience taught me that and that is why I’m most proud of it.
Has there been a particular faculty or staff member that has been formative during your time at UB?
Bill Wild was my first actual engineering professor and I will always remember what he said in class one day: “When someone asks me, what does an engineer do? I reply, what do you want me to do?”
An engineer does not get defined by their discipline title. They are defined by what problems they want to work on and how much they’re willing to help people.
What are your future plans?
Currently, we’re working on the startup company and I believe in the idea and believe in the vision. I think this one will go far. Hopefully, I can stay and grow with the company as well as we look beyond where we currently are.
What is your advice for prospective students?
As a young person, if you tell a very wealthy old person, “I’ll trade you my time for your money,” they’ll take the deal in a heartbeat. They can do more with your time than you can do with their money. So please, use your time doing things you like doing and make sure to build a plan that gives you the life you want. Things don’t happen overnight and failure is normal. We all fail.
Kamal Patel received a 2020 Leaders in Excellence Scholarship from the UB Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association (UBEAA).