B.S. Electrical Engineering with a Concentration in Mechatronic Systems Engineering

I’m from Angola, which
is in West Africa, and I came here for a
scholarship program. So it’s the government in my
country that has this program. They gave me the opportunity
to go abroad, and choose the university, and to see
that I wanted to study. But I didn’t actually
choose the major. They choose it for
me, and I chose DU, because I compared the programs,
and I like this program better. I think it’s more
flexible than the others. I would say that I’m
happy, because what I wanted to do, initially,
was computer science, which I like programming a lot. And I think that having
mechatronic systems, I also have this in my major,
so it is also good for me. I’m happy with this. So I was born and
raised out here. I actually wanted
to be an actor– big career change
kind of path on that, but I noticed that I
really wanted to make an impact in my community. I grew up in a very low
income neighborhood, and I realized that
it was highly unlikely that I can create kind of
an impact on my community as an actor. I was good at math, I
was good at science, and so I wanted to kind
of impart more change. My major is mechatronic
systems engineer, which it’s actually
electric engineer with a academic concentration
in mechatronic systems. It’s a little bit
tough at the beginning, because you have a lot
of different fields that you need to know, from
electronics, programming, math. So it’s a little
bit frustrating, but over time it’s pretty
cool because you start seeing things getting together. And we have a combination
of the three main areas of engineering, which is
electrical, and mechanical, and computer. So just saying
mechatronic system, actually it’s a
little bit different, because here at DU we don’t have
a major for mechatronic system. It’s electrical that they change
a little bit– the program– to fit mechatronic
systems engineering. From the very first quarter that
your students will start here, they’re going to get
exposed into introduction to mechatronic systems,
which is a fully hands on project-based
learning class. And then we have a sequence
going for a full year. The students are going
to learn a lot about what is the practical
side of engineering, and all of the theory
that they’re going to learn ties into practice. We, of course, continue that
in junior and senior years with integration
and senior design. So integration, it was
hard for some students, because it was the first
time that you had really, really hands on teamwork. We had a test to do a robot– to simulate a robot
that is going to Mars. We have different students from
many different majors working together in a group or a team. So in this class it was
the moment that I realized, OK, this is what I learned,
and this is what they learn. And now we came
together to show, like, the different things that
we learned from our majors. But I think it was
the best experience because most of the
times we have lectures, and then we go to the lab. But sometimes it’s
not that helpful, understanding how,
in real life, are we going to apply those concepts. As we keep moving
in the curriculum, the theoretical components
should be more heavy, and students should
be able to start, by themselves, doing
the hands-on instead of being in lab. From integration, we
work with our professors. Our professors
were our customers, but this time we are working
with an actual company. I’m working with semi
automation of tissue processing, so basically what we are doing– we are helping out the
company, which is AlloSource. So we are helping them with
one of their processes. It’s basically simulating
like a washing machine but for bone powder. At the beginning,
it was very hard, because I didn’t know how to
address some issues to them because they didn’t understand
electrical engineers. So I had to learn how to
communicate, with a company, how to present,
like, documents– properly documents
to them, so they can understand what I’m doing. I’m working with Boom
Supersonic, which is a– they’re going to create the
first supersonic jet since the Concorde, and essentially
it’s a sound cancelling system for aircraft. It’s so wild, and there’s a lot
of math and science into it. But it’s a challenge,
but every day you realize that it’s possible. It’s possible. You have to think. You have to keep
changing things. You have to wipe the
slate multiple times, but it’s that
challenge that keeps you wanting to do the project. You know, like, we
can figure this out. We can do it, and so
it’s been a blast. It’s really good. You can really
advance yourself– advance your knowledge– and not just professionally
but also personally. That’s what I like about this. If you don’t have passion,
it’s going to be painful. So it’s pretty much if
they like what they’re doing, even if they fail– even if things don’t work– at
the end of the day it’s like, do you like it? Can you leave it for a week or
two, and then you come back, and you can find that
energy and motivation? If yes, then still way to go,
because saturation will happen. It doesn’t matter if
you like it or not. Eventually you saturate. It leads to finding
that balance– that the need to understand
if you’re willing to do that. It’s really allowed
me to kind of see where everything comes
together, and if you look at most systems and
the kind of projects today, there are a combination
of all three. Your car, for example,
is a mechatronic system. It’s a mechanical, computer,
and electrical system. And so, I really feel like
it’s powerful to provide this degree when that’s
what the future is– mechatronic systems. We have used electricity since
the times of Edison in 1881, and we cannot live
without electricity. You cannot even imagine that,
so all of these changes, these are happening
because of ECE. Don’t be afraid to try
DU if you are trying to– if you are going
for engineering, I think it’s a great
school for engineering. I wasn’t a perfect
student when I came in. I struggled especially with
a lot of the core classes. Engineering is really difficult,
and I thought, at least, it was too much for me. But once I realized
that this was my choice, this was something that I was
choosing to do, it changed. One of the most important things
that engineering has taught me is that hard work is the only
way you can create change.

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