Welcome to S2E01 – Summer Student Spotlights! Today we are proud to speak to six impressive Duke students about their summer experiences. We will dive into the depths of Duke’s Data Plus program, explore the complexities of a Duke Startup, examine the process of engineering a COVID ventilator, and shoot to the stars to learn about the experiences of two SpaceX interns. We hope you enjoy the return of This Engineering Life – Season 2!

We’d also like to acknowledge that this summer was a  challenging time for many and that the experiences of our interviewees may not be representative of the Duke/Pratt population as a whole. We empathize with those who have experienced recent struggles and hope for the best as the Duke community continues to move forward, together.


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Episode Contributors

This weeks episode of This Engineering Life features six incredible Duke students who found a way to make the most of their summers:

Kush Gulati – Sophomore BME Major & Data + Participant

Kush Gulati is a Sophomore Biomedical Engineering student who spent his summer participating in Duke’s 10-week Data + Program. He worked on a team to analyze wearable sensor data to determine which data sources are best for classifying activity data. Fun fact: Kush enjoys making music with his friends!

Ben Williams – Senior ECE Major & Data + Participant

Ben Williams is a Senior Studying Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is also pursuing Duke’s Energy and the Environment Certificate. He also participated in Data+ this summer creating a tool to help North Carolina citizens to better understand their water usage via a website. Fun Fact: Ben is the President of Duke’s Club Ultimate Frisbee team.

Juan Lasso Velasco – Senior Mechanical Engineering Major

Juan Lasso Velasco is a Senior Mechanical Engineer from Columbus Nebraska. In his free time, he enjoys working on 3d printed prosthetics and actually owns three 3D Printers of his own. He is a self-described “inhabitant” of the CoLab and spent part of his summer working with Mark to create an affordable ventilator to help with the COVID-19 pandemic. He also spent time working in person for Restore3D designing and manufacturing biomedical devices.

Marc Chmielewski – Junior ECE/CS Major

Mark Chmielewski is a Junior ECE/CS Major From Pennsylvania, though he is currently moving to Deleware. Mark too is a self-described “inhabitant” of the CoLab, even building emulators in his free time. He has spent part of this summer participating in Duke’s CS+ program attempting to layout fair and unbiased redistricting for the state of NC. He’s also spent time working for his startup, the running app Embark.

Matt Urke – Senior Mechanical Engineering Major & SpaceX Intern

Matt Urke is a Senior Mechanical Engineering student from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He’s spent his summer in South Texas forking for SpaceX’s fastest-paced rocket factory in the world. He has been involved as a vehicle engineering intern, spending time working on SpaceX’s heat shield projects. He says that when you love what you’re doing (as he did this summer) it doesn’t even feel like work Fun fact: Matt has a twin brother!

Rebecca Leggett – Senior Mechanical Engineering Major & SpaceX Intern

Rebecca Leggett is a Senior Mechanical Engineering student from Maryland (though she says shes from DC). She spent her summer working in Hawthorne, California at SpaceX headquarters. Her role was as a Supply Chain Engineering Intern and she worked with both the Falcon and Starship projects. She feels lucky that SpaceX has supported internships amidst COVID-19 and is excited for what the future has in store!