My freshman year, two members of the Duke I&E certificate team came into my Engineering Innovation lecture one day and gave a presentation that sparked my interest. As I researched the program layout, courses, and objectives, I became more and more confident that it was a certificate I wanted to pursue. My main reasons for interest are my love for solving problems and my desire to create something meaningful. From my perspective, all of my various required classes for my Mechanical Engineering major will give me the necessary fundamental knowledge, but it will be my pursuit of the I&E certificate that will give me the skills I need in order to use that knowledge to achieve my goals for the future.

The area of focus I am looking to explore is international development. The fact that we live in a world where millions of people can take and send photos and videos to the other side of the world with the click of a button on a portable device, but there are still humans who lack access to clean drinking water is illogical to me. I want to try to reduce how much a person’s life can be negatively affected simply because of where he or she is born.


I had the opportunity to spend two summers working in my initial focus area of international development with Duke Engineers for International Development and Social Entrepreneur Corps. While both of my certificate experiences tied to my initial focus area, my courses grew to focus more on the role technology plays in human lives.

From my time in the certificate program, I learned a great deal of practical tools and knowledge including circuitry, business modeling, and intellectual property law as well as important abstract lessons. For one, entrepreneurship isn’t always glamorous and it definitely isn’t easy. It is synonymous with risk and is often times the opposite of security. Additionally, throughout the program I’ve found that failure teaches a lesson better than a dictation of that same lesson. A lesson dictated may go in one ear and out the other, but a lesson from a failure is internalized and never forgotten.