Meet Sean

Cornell Engineering student SeanMajor: mechanical engineering
Hometown: Lake Grove, NY

Why did you choose Cornell University and/or Cornell Engineering?
Cornell Engineering has always stuck out in my mind as a school that cares not only about the depth of study and complexity within engineering, but also the practical side of engineering. You’ll find students—on the same day—working at a lab discovering previously unknown fundamental laws of turbulence and then walking into the ELL to go mill a chunk of steel in a homemade vice. As an engineering student at Cornell, you learn both theory and practice, and can uniquely balance the two depending on your interests.

I’ve always thought of Cornell as a school where you can always move around, always discover new aspects of your favorite subjects, always discover new subjects which spark your interest and lead to a lifelong curiosity, and that’s absolutely been true throughout my time here. To any aspiring engineers who might be unsure of the journey that lies ahead, you’re going to do great! Even if your path has lots of twists and turns, the most important lesson that Cornell Engineering can ever teach you is figuring out what kind of life you want to lead; the more unsure your journey is, the more you learn about yourself by the end of it! That’s why I discovered my love for medicine, and how I realized I could incorporate it into my love of engineering through biomedical robotics and emergency medicine. Engineering has helped me discover who I am and who I want to be, and that’s all I could’ve hoped for when looking for a great school.

What is your favorite thing about Cornell Engineering?
By far my most valuable experience out of Cornell Engineering has been my work on my project team, Cornell Mars Rover. If you’re really into something in engineering—maybe it’s rockets, maybe it’s sustainability, or maybe it’s even building a bike that moves all by itself—chances are, you’ll find a project team for it. It’s the perfect environment to tinker around with a group that feels like family. Through the resources provided by the project team space, I’ve been able to deeply explore my own interests in dynamics and robotics by spearheading the design of a deployable camera system on the rover. I was allowed the creative freedom to explore and develop nearly every part of the design, from mounting, to dynamics, to stress analysis, to even the manufacturing plan. Project teams allow you to not only have an amazing group of supportive peers from all walks of life and all fields of study, but also a sandbox for which you can pursue your own interests as a part of a larger project. Alongside my work on the team, I’ve had help from some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, all of which I’m glad to call my friends today! When you finally get to see all of your work from engineering classes come to life right in front of your eyes, there’s nothing quite like it!

How do you get involved outside the classroom?
I volunteer as an EMT for Cornell University Emergency Medical Service. Most people think of EMTs as being all pre-health students or biology majors, but in reality, studying engineering has given me amazing insight into how to problem solve on the fly and help determine what might be causing a patient’s emergency. Cornell Engineering doesn’t simply provide rote textbook material, to the contrary, engineering provides you with an entirely new way of thinking that you can use to positively impact your life in nearly all aspects! From learning how to communicate clearly between members of a close-knit team, to getting into the nitty-gritty details of deriving complex problems back to their core meanings, engineering has equipped me to develop a deep understanding of pre-hospital emergency medicine. When you learn to think like an engineer, that’s something that you’ll always have with you, no matter what situation or specific field of study you find yourself in. Your education as an engineer will extend beyond simply “learning” engineering. Rather, engineering will become a part of you, and you can use that part of you in any way you see fit. That’s the beauty of it!