Student Profile: Samuel McDonald
Position: Special project assistant
Research Interests: Composite applications to aerospace
Advisor: Cody Sheltra
Sam is a 2018 UMaine graduate with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering technology who is currently employed by the Advanced Structures and Composites Center. Prior to working for the Center, Sam had no concept of what it was until his friend took him on a tour. He explained how he came to work for the Center with the following:
“I have a friend who worked at the Center and he asked me if I’d ever seen it, and I said, ‘No, I don’t even know what it is.’ So he showed me around the lab and I was like, ‘This is so cool, how do I work here?’ Then he asked around to see if anyone needed a new undergrad hire, then I took a test, I passed it, and I started working.”
Sam attributes the development of his leadership skills to his time with the Center, as they have “thrived” thanks to the team-based nature of his work. He came into a leadership role thanks to a suggestion he made to one of his supervisors, and now manages, instructs, and trains undergraduate students.
Sam feels that he has learned the most during his time as a mentor, as he said, “I think becoming the instructor teaches you more than being the student, because you have to think about how to explain it to someone, and it strengthens your knowledge about the subject.”
In regards to the projects Sam has worked on at the Center, they have mostly regarded the Center’s rapidly deployable bridge system. Specifically, Sam managed the work being conducted on the shear connections between the bridge girders and concrete deck of the bridges.
In regards to what Sam enjoys most about the Center, he cited the people he works with and said the following:
“What I enjoy most is that I come here and there’s a lot of intelligent, like-minded folks. I consider them more of my friends than coworkers, and you go through this incredible process of research and development together with your buddies. It’s an invaluable experience that a lot of people don’t get to have.”
Sam also explained that the Center is invaluable to undergraduate students thanks to UMaine’s MET program. He said, “You come to UMaine and study engineering, and then you actually do it at the Center. . . If you get a spot here, keep it, don’t leave.”
Recently, Sam was selected for naval flight school and his goal is to become a fighter pilot. He believes that his work for the Center helped to make him a more appealing candidate to the Navy. He will be attending flight school in Pensacola, Florida.