Santiago Ibarra Rico

Year: Senior

Major: Aeronautical Engineering

Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia

What program(s) are you involved in? I have been involved in SEW, Preface, ABC, and MITE.

Tell me a little bit about this program? Both the SEW and Preface programs are programs that target students in middle school and underclassmen in high school. These programs introduce the students to engineering by showing them that engineering is not only about math, but also about using your imagination to solve everyday problems. We also scale down larger engineering feats to a smaller magnitude so that the students can view larger problems in a smaller way.

ABC Bootcamp and MITE are different from the two other programs in that they target upperclassmen in high school. MITE helps prepare students for the SAT and also begins to show them the type of material that they will see if they choose to pursue an engineering degree after high school graduation. ABC, on the other hand, begins to expose incoming Purdue freshmen to the curriculum that they will begin once school starts in the fall.

What do you do for this program? For SEW and Preface I served as a Program Assistant. As a program assistant I was in charge of answering any questions that students had. I also had the opportunity of directing my own project, an egg drop. This project was a simplification of the landing of the Curiosity Mars Rover. For this project students had to construct a shell that would protect an egg as it fell from one or two stories, very similar to what NASA engineers did to protect the rover as it landed in Mars.

For ABC and Mite I served as a tutor to the students where I was able to interact with students on a one-on-one basis. I not only answered questions about the work they were given but also questions ranging from Purdue courses to campus life.

What is your favorite part of the program? I truly enjoyed working with and getting to know the students that I interacted with because only a few years ago I was in the same positions that they are currently in. I was also able to see the students’ growth throughout the programs.  Engineering is not for everyone and while some students decided that they did not want to further pursue engineering, some others grew more passionate about engineering which is the program’s goal. However, all students were able to expand their knowledge about engineering and learned why this major did or did not interest them; something that is truly vital when preparing for education after high school.

Why did you get involved in this program? I first learned about the programs from Dr. Cinthia Sanchez, MEP’s Outreach and Retention Administrator, and having previously worked with younger students I saw it as a good opportunity to expand the minds of younger students that will become future engineers.

How has this program affected you as an engineering student? I have had the opportunity to work alongside and gain knowledge from other engineering students that are not only pursuing their bachelor’s degree but also their master’s or PhD.

Would you recommend this program to incoming students?  I would highly recommend these programs to any and all incoming students because it gives them a perspective that not all other incoming students are able to obtain, and for ABC students it allows them to get to meet and befriend other students that they will be working with during their schooling.

Do you have any advice for incoming minority engineering students? My advice to all students, not just minority students, is to stick with it and most important of all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Also, remember that MEP is in a way your family away from home and anyone here will do whatever they can to help you succeed and reach any goal that you set for yourself.

Did you participate in a similar program when you were younger, and if so, how did it benefit you? I did not participate in any similar programs when I was younger. However, after seeing these programs’ results, I would highly recommend them to any student that is interested in learning more about engineering.

How has MEP or this program benefited you academically and professionally? I became a part of MEP in January and in that short time I have grown a lot. I have also been able to meet a lot of highly motivated and friendly individuals that share my same goal and are more than willing to share their experiences and knowledge with me.

What other organizations are you involved in on campus? I have been involved with College Mentors For Kids as well as AIAA.

So what do you plan to do professionally? After graduation I plan on pursuing a job in either consulting or computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and later returning to school to pursue a master’s degree in engineering.

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