Meet Tufts Engineers
Tufts engineers are everywhere, doing all sorts of interesting things. Take a look at what some of our current students, faculty, and alumni are doing in the School of Engineering.
Mia Goldberg ‘21
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Major: Chemical Engineering
Minor: Hopefully education!
Favorite non-engineering class: My favorite non-engineering class was easily English. I was super nervous to take it, since English wasn’t exactly my favorite class in high school (not all that surprising for an engineer), but it turned out to be one of my favorite classes that I’ve taken at Tufts thus far. Dale Peterson was the coolest professor and had personally met the authors of many of the texts we read, which made our group discussions even more interesting. The class was only 15 students, and we sat at a round table discussing literature and reading our writing to each other. The classes were intimate and really allowed me to connect with my peers.
Favorite extracurricular activity: Outside of class, my favorite thing to do is give campus tours. I used to be afraid of public speaking, but being a tour guide has helped to push me out of my comfort zone in a friendly environment. Giving tours and being able to share all of the ways Tufts has helped me grow makes me happy and brightens my day.
Abey Klotz ‘20
Hometown: Santa Cruz, California
Major: Chemical Engineering
Minor: Engineering Management
Growing up along the California Coast, I spent many mornings hiking in the redwood forests with my dogs, playing with harbor seals in the kelp beds while I was free diving, and surfing on longboards with friends. Every part of the environment around me was my playground. Because of how I grew up, I knew ever since high school that I wanted to major in something that I could apply to the environment and our natural resources.
When my sophomore year came at Tufts, I started looking for chemical engineering research opportunities that were in line with my environmental interests. The first lab that stood out to me was the Ayse Asatekin Lab, which developed zwitterionic membranes for textile wastewater treatment. This was perfect! I reached out to Ayse at the beginning of the spring semester, and I almost dreaded her response because I was half expecting her to say I was too inexperienced.
Only a few hours after I emailed Ayse, she responded and told me I could start researching in her lab over the summer! Ayse also mentioned to me that she was looking for a student to design and teach a chemical engineering workshop to middle school girls over the summer. I thought back to when I was in middle school, even in high school, and I realized no one had ever told me about chemical engineering. All the engineering or math and science days at my high school only ever featured the well-known engineering disciplines like mechanical or civil engineering. To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of chemical engineering before I came to Tufts.
The idea of being able to teach something to young girls that I didn’t have access to when I was their age was exciting, so I decided to spend my summer designing the workshop and doing research in Ayse’s lab. The first day of research was nerve-racking because I thought my graduate student mentor, Sam, was going to ask me all sorts of hard chemistry questions and I would embarrass myself because I wouldn’t know the answer. But, when I got to the lab, he couldn’t have been nicer! Sam took the time to explain to me how the zwitterionic membranes worked, and gave me my own project, which was to design a spray coating mechanism to potentially upscale the process of making membranes for commercial use.
The research was inspiring because I got to learn first-hand what it was like to design and test experiments, and the workshop was so much more rewarding than I expected. I was able to teach the girls how to make plastic out of milk, make a mock “pill coating,” and spherify Gatorade and cosmetic products. They were so excited when they were able to bring home the spherified Gatorade and prank their siblings into eating it because the Gatorade was horrible salty! Many loved the workshop so much that they couldn’t wait for it to happen again next year. Being able to transfer my love for chemical engineering and get middle-schoolers excited about it was very rewarding. In-Between that and the lab work, this was a summer I will never forget.
Annika Han ‘20
Hometown: Lynnfield, Massachusetts
Major: Civil Engineering
Minor: Engineering Management
Favorite extracurricular activity: I remember seeing the club table for Engineers Without Borders at Jumbo Days the spring before my freshman year. I knew I was interested in working in developing countries following my education in the US. When my schedule finally opened up my junior semester, I was immediately welcomed into the group and began making SAP2000 models of a water tower design to be constructed in Silvio Mayorga, Nicaragua. It was very refreshing to directly apply the knowledge I was learning in my classes to a real-world situation where I held responsibility for the betterment of a functioning community. It was the opportunity I was looking for--one that would transform theories and equations from classes into tangible results. I remember meeting with our engineering mentor to do a preliminary check of our structure. As he explained the next steps of the process, I realized that I did not have any idea how to design a foundation, or analyze the structure’s joints. It hit me how challenging the process would be, but as I proceeded, I found myself enjoying the difficulties and additional research. Though I felt uniquely unqualified to contribute, I ended up surprising myself with the amount of knowledge I could pursue from faculty and research. This project has really pushed me to grow as an engineer and an individual, and I was able to make valuable connections with students of all engineering backgrounds at the same time. I can safely say that I have met some of my closest friends through Engineers Without Borders. By picking a club with real-life implications in engineering, I was able to simultaneously have fun and learn about the career I plan on entering.
Favorite research experience: In the summer entering my junior year I began research with Professor Swan in synthetic lightweight aggregates. We were in the process of discovering the strength properties of non-recyclable plastics so we could reuse them in construction instead of throwing them in landfills. This was the first time I explored the effects of engineering on the environment, which heightened my desire to work more with sustainability and environmental impacts. My responsibilities included making and testing over 200 samples of different varieties of aggregates and plastics. I also analyzed data regarding the strengths of each aggregate under different loads. This experience taught me how to maneuver a lab environment and use equipment such as LoadTrac, FlowTrac, and triaxle cells. As I continue with this research, I am learning more and more about the evolution of research as it transitions from concepts to practice. Hopefully, in the coming years we can introduce a more sustainable standard into the construction industry and limit the amount of plastic sitting in our country’s landfills.
Carter Silvey ‘20
Hometown: Basking Ridge, New Jersey
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Second Major: Math
Favorite engineering class: My favorite engineering class was the first engineering class I took at Tufts, EN1. The entire goal of the class is to introduce students to engineering, because it’s not a common thing taught in high school classes. The class was structured so that we had no problem sets, no exams, just hands-on projects to get a feel for engineering. Our first project was to build something that moved on its own for a minute. We were given two feet of string, two balloons, a brick, and as much wood as we needed. Our final project was to build a miniature golf hole. In groups of three, we were handed a solo cup for our hole, and told that our golf hole had to update a website every time someone scored, had to contain multiple paths (because one path is boring), and most importantly had to be fun to play. Our final presentation was to lay everyone’s golf courses down on the gym and play miniature golf with our professor for an hour and a half.
Favorite professor: One of my favorite professors is Brandon Stafford. He was the professor for my Introduction to Engineering class, and besides playing miniature golf with us, he really got to know all of us. The first day of class, he walked in and already started calling us by our names because he had looked at the class roster beforehand so he could start to pair up faces with names as soon as he could. By the end of the second class, he knew everyone’s name. I still run into him around the Science and Engineering Complex and he makes sure he knows how I’m doing both academically and socially. He’s even walked up and listened to a bunch of my campus tour stops about engineering, and since he’s in charge of the new makerspace on campus, Nolop FAST, he shares with me all that’s happening behind the scenes.
Favorite extracurricular activity: As the co-president of Another Option, an alcohol-free programming club on campus, I get to plan a different event every weekend. We do events like pumpkin carving, gingerbread house building, chocolate making, tie dying, and more. Besides living out my dreams of being the person in math problems who orders 800 lbs of pumpkins, I love being able to see friends enjoying events that I bring to life. My favorite event every year is ordering massive amounts of ice cream before finals as a way for all students to de-stress.
Laurel Haeger ‘20
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Major: Computer Science
Minor: Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Favorite non-engineering class: I took a sociology course in the Spring of 2018 called Sex and Gender in Society, and I can honestly say it was my favorite class I have taken so far at Tufts. The course acted as an elective for my minor, but I ended up appreciating it for so much more. The professor offered a deep insight into the way we view the concepts of sex and gender, and it allowed me to use my brain differently than I would in my STEM-based courses. For our final paper we were allowed to choose our own topic, while roughly sticking to a main theme given, and I chose to write on the NFL cheerleaders’ current lawsuit against the NFL. Although it was one of the longest papers I’d ever written, and took a lot of research, I was able to interview a current NFL cheerleader and explore topics that I otherwise could only read about in the news were I never to take courses outside the engineering school. I say this every tour I give and whenever someone asks me why I chose Tufts Engineering and this story is it. I’m not limited to a basic set of STEM courses if I want to be an engineer, in fact I’m encouraged to explore other areas of studies in order to better prepare me for my life after Tufts.
Favorite internship: I had an internship in the summer of 2018 with Tableau Software in Seattle as a Software Engineer in Test. I worked on the calculations team (which was honestly responsible for a ton of work), and was able to work hand-in-hand with a full-time developer as they worked on a new feature and I implemented all the testing that would be executed daily to ensure the functionality of the feature. The most satisfying part of this internship was my ability to make an actual impact on a feature that would be used and seen by everyone who used the product. Additionally, I felt truly integrated into the team as I attended all the same meetings as the full-time developers did and was asked to contribute ideas throughout them as well. I truly enjoyed spending my summer with Tableau and am glad I was able to work in the field prior to being thrust into it upon graduation.
Derrick Sosa ‘21
Hometown: Washington Heights, New York
Major: Environmental Health
Favorite non-engineering class: This class actually got me to my engineering major today! I struggled through chemistry, and I took my second semester to find out what really interested me. I took Introduction to Global Health, a Community Health requirement, and it ended up being one of the best decisions I made since getting on campus. Learning about the spread of diseases was something that interested me a lot, and making my own poster was something special! Because of that class, I became an Environmental Health major, with a focus on Global Health.
Favorite extracurricular activity: One program that I've been a part of since the end of my freshman year is STEM Ambassadors. STEM Ambassadors is a professional development program that teaches us how to present in front of an audience and how to lead by example. We teach students from all backgrounds in under-resourced high schools in the Boston area. We allow high school students to see a future in STEM through our presentations and objectives, and personally, I try to be the person I had wished was there for me when I was in high school. Coming from an inner city upbringing, I feel that being at this university is a once in a lifetime opportunity brought to me with the hard work and sacrifices put in by my family and I. There's no other way to truly feel accomplished than giving that back to the next group of STEM leaders in the world.
Professor Babak Moaveni
If you even come to campus for a Tufts tour, you'll begin your route on a seventh-story footbridge connecting Dowling Hall to the Academic Quad. If you happen to see a handful of civil engineering students jumping up and down on this bridge, don't be alarmed; likely you've stumbled across Professor Babak Moaveni's Structural Health Monitoring course.
"Students lay out sensors on the footbridge and collect data by [jumping on] the bridge," explained Professor Moaveni. "ultimately [they] predict the dynamics of the bridge from their measured data." This is a smaller application of Moaveni's research - recently he went to Nepal to investigate buildings that crumbled in the earthquake, and he is also involved in intentional demolitions of buildings in the United States.
Much of his work was funded by an early career grant from the National Science Foundation, which he uses to help assess and estimate the remaining useful life of public structures. You can find out more about his research here.
JUMBO Engineer, Tufts' engineering magazine, features profiles of many other Tufts faculty members and students doing amazing research. Check out the full issue by clicking on the link above to learn about what's happening around campus.