I was intrigued by all that the A. James Clark School of Engineering has to offer. The quality and dedication of the faculty convinced me that UMD should be a tied-for-first choice school for me, and when I was deciding between schools that I got into, the opportunity presented by the generous scholarship left for me by Mr. Clark and the Clark Foundation made it impossible to not choose Maryland.
We caught up with Andrew - who was selected to participate in the inaugural class of the A. James Clark Scholars Program last fall - to learn more about his experience in the Electrical and Computer Engineering undergrad program, and to find out why he chose the University of Maryland for his studies.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Maryland?
I have lived in Maryland for most of my life, and I learned a lot about the university through neighbors and teachers as I went through middle and high school. One of my brothers began attending UMD when I was a junior, and that was when I was starting to seriously consider college choices. Knowing that I had always really enjoyed STEM classes and the process of solving problems, I was inclined to choose engineering as my field of study for when I actually got to college. I began visiting campus a lot and attending all sorts of open houses and workshops, and I was intrigued by all that the A. James Clark School of Engineering has to offer. The quality and dedication of the faculty convinced me that UMD should be a tied-for-first choice school for me, and when I was deciding between schools that I got into, the opportunity presented by the generous scholarship left for me by Mr. Clark and the Clark Foundation made it impossible to not choose Maryland.
How did you hear about the Clark Scholars Program?
I received an email one day in my senior year of high school (after being admitted to Maryland) about this scholarship opportunity, and because it was called the 'Clark' Scholarship, I initially thought that this was offered to everyone in the engineering school. Part of me thought, “this is another one of those scholarship offers out of my reach,” but I was curious about it and there was free food (plus at my high school we got a few excused absences for college visit days), so I went and when I was there, I realized that it was presented to a select group of students and it was a very exciting prospect. Some time during freshman year I actually made a quick point of this to our advisors, to emphasize in the email for future students that if you receive this email, it is an exclusive offer.
Why did you decide to major in Computer Engineering?
I have just completed my freshman year, and I am unsure whether I want to major in Computer Engineering or Electrical Engineering (I am currently declared as Computer Engineering), but I chose ECE because of the realm of knowledge that it exists in. As the department loves to say: ECE brings us modern life - and that really is true. My ideal career is in developing solar photovoltaic technology, developing electric vehicles or light rail systems, developing computer processors, working on device communications, or some mix of those, which makes this department ideal. I love to code and solve problems that are really challenging in general, and a knowledge of hardware beyond just computer software will be extremely advantageous in my professional and personal life.
How has the Clark Scholars Program benefitted you so far?
The Clark Scholars Program has truly been a blessing for me. The advising team has been wonderful, providing me with individual academic and personal advice whenever I need it, and hosting regular cohort meetings so that we can all get together and discuss relevant matters. On top of this, the monetary contribution that the scholarship provides has made going to college far less stressful and much more achievable for my family, and I’m very grateful for all of this.
Please describe your experience in the program thus far.
I am enrolled in a College Park Scholars program (Science and Global Change), in which we have a weekly lecture for three semesters and must satisfy a practicum requirement by mid-way through sophomore year. For my practicum project, I traveled to Costa Rica at the start of this summer to volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary in Dominical. This involved animal feeding, cleanup, and enrichment. I will be presenting a poster with a write-up on this project next spring at the annual Scholars showcase event. I have also been involved in leadership and service learning programs my entire youth, and I achieved Eagle Scout rank in high school.
Have you committed to focusing on a grand challenge as part of the program?
I haven’t formally written anything, but I have committed to the NAE challenge of making solar energy economical.
What are your hobbies and interests on and off campus?
My hobbies include playing chess, playing video games, playing pickup lacrosse or basketball, swimming, hiking and camping, reading fictional stories or interesting memoirs, and coding.
What do you like most about the ECE Department?
I really like that the ECE department is very diverse in thought and the interests of the faculty are spread across the entire field. I am going to continue to talk to professors at Maryland and try to get an opportunity to work on research, and get my hands on something practical and applicable to the future of ECE.
What would you like to do after graduation?
As I mentioned before, I am still thinking about my ideal career at the moment, but it is within ECE. After graduation, I plan to enter the workforce for a few years, then go back to school in an engineering business management graduate program (I’m not sure where exactly), and then either launch my own business then or pursue a management position where I can still contribute my engineering skills.