A photo of Cornell Engineering student KennethMajor: mechanical engineering
Hometown: Palo Alto, CA

Why did you choose Cornell Engineering?
The project teams: My passion for engineering came out of the four years I spent as a part of my high school’s FIRST Robotics Competition team. Finding an engineering competition team like that in college became a priority for me, and Cornell Engineering’s project teams immediately stood out. If there is a type of vehicle you can think of, there is a project team for it at Cornell: racecars, drones, boats, rockets, submarines, and even hyperloop pods. I ended up joining the Baja SAE Racing team which builds an off-road buggy from the ground up every year to race in three intercollegiate competitions all around the United States. I was able to jump right into the machine shop and by the time we won the 4-hour endurance race that season in Kansas, there were parts on the car that I could proudly say that I had made. I learned countless skills from upperclassmen mentors as the list of designs I owned grew to include an engine dynamometer, wheel hubs, driveshafts, and eventually our fully custom V-belt continuously variable transmission. I love the hard-working, go get ‘em spirit of the team: bonding over late nights troubleshooting FEA models in the Swanson computer lab and early Saturday mornings running the CNC mills in the Emerson machine shop. There is something magical about the combination of competition, collaboration, and community in the project team experience that has brought out the best in me as an engineer, teammate, and leader. Being a part of Baja has given me some of my best friends, mentors, and memories at Cornell so far.

What is your favorite thing about Cornell Engineering?
My favorite thing about Cornell Engineering would have to be the motivation, competitiveness, and inspiration in all of my peers. In group projects or on my project team when hard technical obstacles are encountered, there is always unspoken consensus to stay up late and exhaust resources. It’s a group that understands results matter but that success can only come out of hard work, collaboration, and intermediate failures.

What do you do outside of the classroom?
My main involvement outside of the classroom is being on the Baja SAE Racing project team. I’m involved in designing the driveline components of the car and my proudest achievement so far is designing a custom continuously variable transmission. This year I’m one of the Team Leads and am hoping to learn valuable leadership skills while also focusing on on-car data acquisition and testing for load case validations.