April 19, 2011 — Michael Natole, a second year Engineering Science major at FM, was one of eighty community college students from 28 states and Puerto Rico who has been selected to travel to the National Community College Aerospace Scholars program to develop robotic rovers.
“Dr. Varghese Pynadath, my Engineering Professor, recommended the program to me at the end of the fall semester and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to take advantage of,” says Michael. He took his professor’s advice and it paid off.
“Based on the application and the supporting documents, Michael was selected in the preliminary screening process and was given four online design assignments starting in January,” said Dr. Pynadath. “He scored well in all of them. Based on that outcome, he recently has been informed that he has been admitted to the Aerospace Scholars Program. The program will enable him to spend three days at a NASA center either in Houston or in Pasadena, whichever he prefers, with all expenses paid. The days at the Center will be busy with lectures, workshops and a team project.”
Michael found out about his selection during the college’s March spring break and chose to travel to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California at the end of April.
“Even though FM is a small school, it is providing me with opportunities that I may have not gotten at larger universities,” says Michael. “Obviously, this trip is an amazing opportunity. But the engineering program has many benefits right on-campus such as learning the theory and operation of FM’s scanning electron microscope in the clean room. I was able to take advantage of the opportunity that was right in front of me. I admire Dr. Pynadath because of the challenging education but rewarding experience that he gives me.”
Michael plans to further his education by earning a bachelors degree in computer engineering. He is awaiting notice from several schools including SUNY Binghamton, Cornell, and RPI.
Although Michael knows engineering can be a very difficult major, requiring a lot of hard work and determination, he believes it will all be worth it for the exciting career that lies ahead. “I would like to one day work for Apple, Inc. designing their latest products,” says Michael. “In my spare time I like to try and develop applications for my iPad and the Apple App Store. I am currently working on an application for the Evans Library that will help students conduct research.”
Engineering was the right choice for Michael, but for others, Michael says the most important thing is that the student should be happy wherever he or she is going. “Everything else will fall into place.”