December grad reaps benefits of an extra semester
Suzanne Peterson, whose hometown is Monticello, Illinois, graduated this past month with a B.S. in aerospace engineering. She participated in the Engineering Pathway Program, beginning her studies at Parkland College in Champaign in fall 2015. When she transferred to the University of Illinois in fall 2017 as a junior, she was one course behind her classmates. Not wanting to overschedule herself during her senior year, she decided to take an additional semester and graduate in December.
Here are some of her additional reflections on her years at U of I and plans for the future.
Research opportunities -
Graduating a semester later allowed me to expand my research portfolio by participating in Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program for an additional summer, getting to work on three different research projects in total throughout my time at Illinois. I was also able to compete at International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition conference in November where I received “Best Computational Approach” for my poster. And, I have two pending journal articles.
Summer experience -
I did not do any internships, nor did I study abroad, but I spent the summer between my sophomore and junior years working as an au pair in Vigo, Spain teaching English to children. This was an opportunity I sought out on my own and was not affiliated/funded by the university.
Memorable class/professor -
I greatly enjoyed AE 428: Mechanics of Composite Materials taught by Prof. Nancy Sottos. Materials science is another interest of mine and I enjoyed exploring the world of composites by taking her course.
My favorite aerospace professors have been Prof. Philippe Geubelle because he pushed and encouraged me as a researcher and I learned a great deal from working under him. I also greatly enjoyed taking courses with Prof. Huck Beng Chew and with Prof. Brian Woodard because he is a great instructor as well as a very approachable person.
For my immediate plans, I will be working an internship at CU Aerospace from January until the end of March. At the end of March I will be moving to Indianapolis, Indiana to begin a full-time job as a Systems Engineer at Raytheon.
Any advice for undergrads?
Advice for undergrads: enjoy your experience on campus while it lasts, it will go by very quickly and take any opportunity that you are offered.
Parting thoughts -
I really liked that AE at Illinois is a smaller department, I really enjoyed having the opportunity to get to know the faculty members and my classmates. It made me feel like I was really a part of the AE family.