• YEAR: Freshman
  • MAJOR: First-Year Engineering
  • HOMETOWN: Logansport, Indiana

Jason Hawes

If there were a merit badge for moving the world forward, Jason Hawes would have earned it already. An Eagle Scout and Beering Scholar, Jason brings a sash full of recognition and achievements to Purdue — student council president, Special Olympics coach, editor of the school newspaper, Academic Super Bowl captain and FIRST Robotics team leader, to name just a few.

And he's just getting started.

Boilermaker legacies

Why Purdue? The list of reasons is lengthy, Jason says, but two stand out. "First, it's kind of a family thing," he says. "My grandfather and uncle both graduated from Purdue and I hope to follow them in that achievement." The second is the University's legacy in NASA country.

"Galveston, Texas, where I grew up, is about 40 minutes from Johnson Space Center, and there Purdue might as well be Ivy League," he says. "It seemed like every person we talked to from Johnson had some connection to Purdue. Since moving to Indiana, I've discovered that the farther you are from Purdue, the more prestigious it becomes. It really is a world-class institution."

Engineering solutions

Jason's varied interests and skills could have led him just as easily to pursue a degree in science, technology, or even the liberal arts. But for him, it all comes together in engineering.

"Engineering is everything around us," he says. "The building you sit in is built of materials designed and tested by structural engineers. Hardware and software engineers originally prepared the computer you checked your email on this morning. The car you took to work or school? Automotive engineering. The lights that blind you during that 8 a.m. lecture? Electrical engineering. If we are going to find sustainable, powerful solutions for our future, it will be on the shoulders of engineers."

Creative robotics

After honing his skills through his high school's FIRST Robotics program, Jason worked at a company this summer designing, programming and building a robot from scratch. "It took every bit of sweat, smarts and luck I had to pull it off, and it was the most creative thing I've ever done," he says. And though Jason hopes to use those skills to work someday in the space industry, his ultimate robot would stay here on Earth.

"I would design a self-sufficient robot group that could work in the great forests around the globe to foster life by nourishing the ground through controlled burning, encourage growth by planting new trees, and foster the imagination of young minds in solving the ecological and environmental challenges facing our world."

Prepared to do his best

The spark that first fueled Jason's aspirations is his experience in scouting, and the source of his greatest pride is being a third-generation Eagle Scout.

"To stand beside my father and grandfather and know that they followed the same path and understand the significance of the accomplishment is something that never loses meaning," he says. "Ultimately, though, scouting is about more than badges, more than rank, more even than its tenets of volunteerism, selflessness, good citizenship and honor. It teaches boys to be young men, and young men to be leaders for the next generation."