Meet Alec

Meet Alec

A photo of Cornell Engineering student AlecMajor: electrical & computer engineering

Alec came to Cornell with an interest in building a more sustainable transportation infrastructure. “What brought me to engineering in the first place was based in sustainability,” he said, “and it was a focus on renewable energy that brought me to electrical engineering.”

Alec grew up in an Air Force family, living in several different states while his parents were transferred from post to post. They spent a lot of time on the road and by the time he started his undergraduate studies at the University of New Mexico, transportation issues had caught his attention.

“Even in Albuquerque,” he said, “I was spending over an hour a day on the road, sometimes an hour one way. And as a student, and someone who was also working a job at that time, those were precious hours that I was losing—those were hours that I wasn’t studying.”

Transferring to Cornell in the Fall of 2019, Alec found that Cornell Engineering provided a unique way to get to work on this problem when he discovered a project team dedicated to reimagining transportation, Cornell Hyperloop.

“A whole new means of transportation like the Hyperloop—that was immediately interesting to me,” Alec said. “I saw it as an opportunity to step into the world of designing new sustainable transportation systems.”

Joining Cornell Hyperloop brought Alec to the Emerson Manufacturing Lab in the basement of Upson Hall, a sprawling facility of tools, parts, and electronics where project teams set up shop.

“I very quickly realized that this was a really special part of the engineering education here. It was unlike anything I had seen at my previous school or anywhere else,” Alec said, “Project teams allow you to go beyond the classroom, actually put your skills to practical use, and learn how to do things a lot more like what you’re going to be doing at a job someday.”

Meet Yitzy

Meet Yitzy

A photo of Cornell Engineering student Yitzy. Major: environmental engineering
Hometown: Miami, FL

Why did you choose Cornell Engineering?
When I began my educational journey I was essentially homeless and working a full time job. As someone who never went to high school, got a G.E.D., and went through the community college system, Cornell removed barriers like not requiring an ACT and SAT for transfer students, and so I truly felt that they were true to their motto of “Any Person… Any Study”. They gave me, “Any Person”, the ability to brush shoulders with students of the highest caliber and then combine that quality with a deep sense of community focus, like Cornell’s extension work or its engaged opportunities and you get a balanced, unique, and exceptional educational experience.

What is your favorite thing about Cornell Engineering?
The diversity of opportunity is incredible! I’ve had the chance to work in Honduras with the AguaClara program, study community decision making in rural Borneo, speak at a conference in Hamburg, and as a Kessler Fellow, sit in the C-suite of a mission based VC firm. All this while working on two project teams (Engineers Without Borders and AguaClara) and through them building friendships that are going to last a lifetime.

How do you get involved outside the classroom? 
I’m “Toasty”, which is my camp name at Camp Kesem; a free week long student led summer camp for local children whose families have been affected by cancer. I’m also the house manager for the Triphammer Co-Op which are my extended family here. In the time between, I’m active in Hillel as an engagement intern and as the VP for the Rotaract club, a community service organization on campus.

Meet Andrea

Meet Andrea

A photo of Cornell Engineering student AndreaMajor: biological engineering
Hometown: Parsippany, NJ

Why did you choose Cornell Engineering?
After my community college supplied me with great engineering introductory courses, I was ready to challenge myself both professionally and personally. Motivated to advance my scientific career at a top tier research institution, I searched for a university that would support my non-traditional journey as a transfer student. Cornell has given me the ability to help move science forward by conducting research in hopes of making novel discoveries while also supporting me through my preparation as an MD-PhD hopeful. As a Colombian immigrant, I have always been committed to inspire underrepresented communities in STEM. Cornell has celebrated my diverse background and has prepared me for my future as a physician scientist.

What is your favorite thing about Cornell Engineering?
I enjoy that Cornell Engineering fosters an accepting environment that promotes creativity and innovation. The willingness of research groups to take on undergraduates demonstrates the university’s initiative of making research accessible to all students.

What do you do outside of the classroom?
Outside of the classroom, I am in the Butcher Cardiovascular Developmental Bioengineering Laboratory in the Biomedical Engineering department. On campus, I am also a Cornell Tradition fellow, the Co-President of PorColombia Cornell, a member of Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.