The College of Engineering & Computing (CEC) is proud of its students’ commitment to research, study, and accomplishments in the classroom and beyond. Meet undergraduate student, Alan George.
Name: Alan George
Hometown: Plantation, FL
Degree/Major: Mechanical Engineering
Why did you choose FIU CEC?
I wanted a fresh start. I knew no one at FIU and enjoyed the process of becoming an active member of a small campus. I enjoyed the fact that FIU has an exclusive engineering campus. Miami is also an incentive. There is always something fun to do after taking hard classes and exams during the day.
Why did you choose your major?
I knew I wanted to pursue something in STEM, so I started as a bio-medical engineering major with plans to transition into physical therapy. However, after a semester of classes and an introduction to computer-aided design (CAD), I knew I would enjoy the mechanical engineering path.
Did you always want to be an engineer?
I had the desire to be an engineer, but I never thought I was smart enough. For perspective, my first time taking physics was in college, and even though I struggled, I applied myself and received some of the highest scores in the class.
What are your plans after graduation?
Graduate school! I plan to pursue a master’s in mechanical engineering. I would like to focus on optical mechanics or manufacturing.
What clubs, student organizations or extracurricular activities do you recommend or are you part of? Internships?
I did a lot! I was a part of the America Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME), Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), Panther Motorsports, and Panther Aero. I met amazing people on campus who pushed me to do my best. These clubs are also a great place to network and are what made me stand out in my internship search.
I have worked in the FIU NASA CRE2DO Lab, as a reliability test engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and as a process development engineer at Boston Scientific.
What has been the most challenging thing you’ve experienced as an engineering student (so far)?
Managing my time has been the most difficult thing I’ve experienced as an engineering student. There have been many semesters where I overcommitted myself. Thankfully, I had a great research professor and club friends who kept me accountable in my classes. As hard as some semesters have been, I have learned how to navigate different tasks. I took advantage of tutors and online learning. I always take summer classes and lighter fall/spring semesters to be sure I don’t take on more classes than I can handle.
What has been the most rewarding thing you’ve experienced as an engineering student (so far)?
The most rewarding experience for me has been starting a club on campus. Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) was something I had envisioned since my freshman year of college. After 2 years of hard work, raising over $15k, and countless sleepless nights, I finally was able to start my own club. I have met some of my closest friends through this process, and the experience makes me excited about what the future generation of FIU students can accomplish.
Any advice to prospective students thinking of majoring in engineering?
Don’t be afraid to fail. There have been classes that were easy and others that I had to retake. Engineering can be difficult, but we are taught a foundation and critical thinking. It’s important to know how what you learn in class gets applied in research or industry, that’s why it’s important to throw yourself into labs or clubs as soon as possible to get the full benefit. My time in research and clubs taught me engineering concepts that I wouldn’t have been exposed to until my junior or senior year.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a student?
The best piece of advice I received is to find mentors and always ask for help. I was lucky to work with a senior design team during my sophomore year which taught me so much about professional development and technical skills. Most engineering clubs have mentorship programs that pair freshmen and sophomores with upperclassmen for advice.
If you could have lunch/dinner with a famous engineering pioneer, who would it be? Why?
I’d love to meet with Bill Nye to learn how to better communicate the joy of engineering with younger generations and inspire them to pursue engineering. Many of us grew up watching YouTubers do crazy engineering projects just for fun, and it’s important to find inspiration in people like that!
When you’re not being an engineering student, what do you like to do?
My main hobby is relaxing and spending quality time with friends and family. I follow many food bloggers on Instagram and go around Miami trying new foods with friends. I’m really into playing video games as well.