My Story

I was born and raised in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, a mid-sized town situated between Philadelphia and New York City. Throughout grade school, I excelled academically, especially in science and math. I also enjoyed running and spending time outdoors; by the time I was ready to graduate, I was captain of my school’s track and cross-country teams and an assistant scoutmaster in my local Boy Scout troop. I had also spent six years in an organization called the Technology Student Association (TSA), in which I competed at regional, state, and national levels in events including CO2-powered dragster design, balsa wood truss construction, and the beloved but vaguely-named event: “problem solving.”

As I thought about what to study in college, I considered math and applied physics, but after some time I decided I wanted to continue solving problems as I had in TSA. I chose to apply to college as a prospective mechanical engineer. Deciding to leave the Northeast was almost as difficult as settling on a major, but after visiting Duke and being blown away by its beautiful campus and well-funded engineering programs, I decided to give North Carolina a chance.

Engineering and More

In my first year at Duke, I took advantage of a few opportunities that convinced me mechanical engineering was the right fit for me. I enrolled in a new design class for freshman, which has since become the centerpiece of the Duke engineer’s first-year experience. The course walked my peers and I through the engineering design process as we worked on solving real problems from the Duke/Durham community. My first project consisted of working with the Duke Lemur Center to design a system for bringing food up to tree-dwelling lemurs, allowing them to remain in the trees like wild lemurs do their whole lives. After one and a half semesters of designing, prototyping, and refining our feeding system, I finished and installed the product that my team and I had created. Afterward, I found my way onto a team that was working to automate a greenhouse temperature control process at the Duke Gardens. Both experiences have reaffirmed my decision to work in mechanical engineering and exposed me to two aspects of engineering that I particularly enjoy: design and prototyping.

This remarkable class that is one of the introductory courses for Duke’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate Program, in which I enrolled near the end of my first year. Subsequent courses in this certificate program have given me the tools to take stock of opportunities for innovation and an understanding of the basic financial considerations that underlie the professional world. Whether or not I become an entrepreneur myself, the skills and experiences I’ve gained enable me to see a wide range of problems as opportunities and address them in a way that is financially and functionally effective.

It has been my privilege to apply these learnings to two engineering internships. In both, keeping an eye on the larger organizational goals even as I do technical work has enabled me to strike the right balance between exhaustiveness and efficiency. See my Experience pages to read more about my work at DEMCO Automation and GE.

The Rest of My Life

Outside of class, I enjoy a variety of activities that help me grow as an individual and shape the way I see the world. I have been a runner for many years, and I love to explore Durham and the Duke Forest with the rest of the club running team; there is something liberating about being able to run to a place beyond the horizon that I appreciate with my friends whenever I can. I also spend a significant amount of my free time reading; I especially enjoy theology and old classics that reveal the continuities and changes in our society over time.

One of my most significant commitments outside the classroom is leading the mechanical sub-team of the Duke Robotics Club, a role I assumed as a sophomore. This team of about 20 engineers and computer scientists builds and programs and autonomous underwater vehicles capable of performing a variety of tasks at the international Robosub competition, which is held in San Diego each July. Building Cthulhu (a robot named after a fictional monster it resembles) with my team during my first year as co-lead is still one of my proudest accomplishments; the technical challenge was great, and the awesome satisfaction of seeing a machine I helped build swimming around is something engineers (and perhaps parents, in a way) are uniquely privileged to experience.

More important than any of my other activities, however, is faith; morality and spirituality are big parts of my life even if they do not make my resume more impressive. As a Christian, I believe that doing the right thing and trusting in God are key to living a fulfilling life and have a significance beyond their immediate consequences. I am involved in the Reformed University Fellowship, a campus ministry at Duke, and in a chapter of Simple Charity, a nonprofit, where I enjoy the company and encouragement of fellow Christians and continue to grow in my faith.

I hope that, through my work and personal relationships, my life will have a positive impact on the lives of many. I am especially interested in finding ways to apply the entrepreneurial spirit of problem solving and rational processes of engineering to improving technologies like 3D printing, robotics, or renewable energy.