If you’ve taken a tour of the UCLA Samueli College of Engineering recently, likelihood is you might have met fourth-year mechanical engineering pupil Aleksandra Dudek.
An Engineering Ambassador since her freshman 12 months, Dudek welcomes new and potential college students to UCLA by taking them on excursions of the varsity, and sharing with them her firsthand information of what it’s prefer to be an engineering pupil.
Dudek’s love for the sector runs deep. From space-related initiatives in elementary faculty to current internships at main expertise corporations, engineering has all the time performed a serious function in Dudek’s life.
Rising up close to Pasadena in a home lower than half a mile away from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Dudek stated lots of her schoolmates’ mother and father labored at JPL and would usually volunteer their time on the faculty.
“I keep in mind having a small, after-school program within the fourth grade the place we labored with NASA scientists to make comets out of dry ice and grime whereas studying concerning the Rosetta Mission,” Dudek stated.
“I consider you may’t really know whether or not you want one thing till you attempt it, so… I all the time encourage my tour teams to hunt alternatives and reap the benefits of them after they come,” Aleksandra Dudek stated.
Later in highschool, Dudek had a chance to take part within the new House Academy — a partnership between JPL and the general public faculty she attended — the place college students grouped in groups of 4 had been introduced with a problem to design a launcher utilizing solely elastic vitality. Dudek and her teammates managed to launch a payload of a light-weight bulb and a digicam to the very best altitude at JPL’s Mars Yard.
“[It] was tremendous thrilling contemplating that earlier than this academy, none of us had used a noticed, and by the top we had customized reduce and mounted two-by-fours and elastic train bands to make this highly effective launcher!” Dudek stated of her all-female workforce’s expertise on the undertaking.
A primary technology Polish American and the youngest youngster in a household of docs and dentists, Dudek adopted her two older sisters’ footsteps in changing into a Bruin. At first, she tried to mix her love for math and physics along with her household’s ardour for drugs by selecting to main in bioengineering, however she shortly realized that she most popular the mechanical elements of engineering so she switched her main whereas conserving her concentrate on exploring medical units.
She stated she notably loved mechanical and aerospace engineering class MAE 107: Introduction to Modeling and Evaluation of Dynamic Programs.
“This course is thought to be some of the difficult mechanical engineering programs provided, however I actually appreciated the mathematical element and this introduction to controls,” Dudek stated.
Within the fall, she will likely be beginning analysis in mechanical and aerospace engineering assistant professor Brett Lopez’s Verifiable and Management-Theoretic Robotics Laboratory to additional discover controls engineering, a path she stated could lead her to pursue a graduate diploma with a spotlight within the space.
Usually the one lady in her group initiatives or lab sections, Dudek stated one of many best challenges she has confronted is a way of impostor syndrome and isolation.
“Though I’ve been fortunate to not have any of my male friends say something to query my skills at UCLA, this sense is somewhat tough to shake off.” Dudek stated. However the expertise additionally inspired her to hunt out feminine mentors on the faculty and thru internships.
Dudek discovered a group in Den Operations at UCLA, a pupil group that leads the part of pupil sports activities followers (affectionately referred to as “The Den”) at UCLA sporting occasions. From guarding the Bruin Bear throughout Beat ‘SC Week to cheering on the Bruins within the PAC-12 basketball match, Dudek confirmed Bruin spirit and made some shut mates past engineering. The expertise has helped her really feel particularly linked to the Bruin household, she stated.
Dudek’s UCLA experiences additionally opened doorways for her to pursue internships in a spread of engineering disciplines. As a result of she’d gotten forward by taking extra programs on-line throughout lockdowns in spring and fall of 2020, she was in a position to take the winter quarter off from faculty in her junior 12 months to work on Tesla’s Megapack workforce, the place she used computer-aided drafting and finite aspect evaluation to design highly effective batteries and sustainable vitality merchandise.
“Leaving my consolation zone to work on this business helped me be taught that I can really feel fulfilled in a job past drugs, however that the function I’m in and the corporate that I work for should have a mission that aligns with my values, whether or not it’s striving to enhance well being care or accelerating the transition to sustainable vitality,” she stated.
Extra just lately, Dudek labored as an intern over the summer season in medical system producer Stryker’s neurovascular division, which adopted a earlier internship with the corporate’s endoscopy workforce. She set to work within the medical area to which her household has shut ties, even creating take a look at strategies and fashions that assist showcase the efficacy of the corporate’s neurovascular units to the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration and different regulatory businesses.
Dudek stated her internships haven’t solely been an ideal alternative to get hands-on expertise in business however additionally they affirmed in her thoughts the flexibility of engineering — an perception she likes to share with new and potential college students whereas exhibiting them round UCLA Samueli on the excursions she leads.
“I consider you may’t really know whether or not you want one thing till you attempt it, so… I all the time encourage my tour teams to hunt alternatives and reap the benefits of them after they come,” Dudek stated. “You actually can’t predict what that chance could convey.”
Natalie Weber contributed to this story.