Space exploration has always captivated and fascinated me. The adrenaline pumping thrill of watching the space shuttle Discovery liftoff and peering into the vintage confines of the Apollo command module and the spider-like lunar module at the Smithsonian has left me amazed and convinced that if I were to participate and aid in space exploration, it would be as an engineer.
To the public eye, space exploration has lost its luster and glory. Many may feel that the space race of the 1960s is over, since we explored the moon and beat the Soviets. But I feel differently. It has always disturbed me that we know so little about an environment that completely engulfs us. There is so much for man to explore, so many answers and explanations to be found, and so many questions and ideas out there that we have not even contemplated. A scientist studying outer space or the universe can only do so much. Theoretical concepts and explanations must ultimately be put to the test and it is up to the engineer to develop the technology to aid man in exploring space.
I was attracted to Northwestern University because of the programs offered at the McCormick School of Engineering. I seek an engineering program that would teach me the basic and necessary skills as an engineer, while giving me the opportunity to conduct research and expand my scope of creativity. The mechanical engineering department within the McCormick School of Engineering offers just that. The range of courses offered covers many of my interests including design and intelligent mechanical systems. The program’s emphasis on design will allow me to participate in projects that will bring my creativity to life. Not only will I be able to learn design and production skills, I will also be able to strengthen my leadership and teamwork skills. The mechanical engineering program stresses the importance of teamwork. In any field of engineering, teamwork is of utmost importance because everything is a collective effort. It is especially important in space exploration because various teams specializing in communication, electronics, mechanics, and aeronautics, to name a few, are required to accomplish a mission.
I was especially amazed by the research opportunities offered at the McCormick School of Engineering. The research conducted at the Integrated Design Automation Laboratory is something I have a great interest in. Using computer aided design and exploring simulation-based-design, I hope to conduct research that would enable me to apply what I learned to real problems.
With a background in engineering I could pursue many paths. I could become an astronaut assigned the task of exploring the dust-like Martian surface and solve the mystery of whether life really existed on Mars. Or perhaps I will be able to utilize the design and production skills I learn and work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to help develop a new spacecraft capable of going beyond our solar system.
As President John F. Kennedy put it, space exploration is the, “greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked”. He dreamed big when he rallied America to the moon. Like him, I also dream big and wherever my final destination may be, a background in engineering will enable me to fulfill my goal of participating in the “greatest adventure” and will hopefully also help benefit mankind.