Engineer of the Month Flies Above and Beyond

By:        Staci Jones
Date:     July 1, 2017

Nathaniel Richards, aerospace engineering-ACCEND senior, is the UC College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) Engineer of the Month for July.

Nathaniel Richards

The cooperative education program is what brought the July Engineer of the Month, Nathaniel Richards, to the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) to study.

“The College and the program were highly recommended to me,” said Nathaniel, “and I have had great experiences both professionally and personally because of the opportunities provided by the co-op program.”

From the Wright Brothers to Neil Armstrong (who had been a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at UC CEAS from 1971-1979), Nathaniel has been surrounded by Ohio’s rich aviation history his entire life, which led to his pursuit of an aerospace engineering degree. He chose to enroll in the Accelerated Engineering Degree program (ACCEND) in order to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously.

Nathaniel states that one of the biggest challenges he faces is knowing exactly what his goals are, but not yet possessing the necessary technical skills to accomplish them. “As I had initially begun to take on more responsibility with research and other lab obligations, I found myself with less time to pursue skills that I would like to further develop,” said Nathaniel. “But my co-op rotations have helped me find a proper balance.”

Gulfstream Aerospace in Savannah, GA is where Nathaniel worked his first rotation. He worked in two departments, the Rapid Prototyping Lab (3D Printing) and the Validation department. “I learned how to professionally interact with my team and other engineers, set and meet target dates, and engage with other co-op students from around the country.”

His second co-op rotation was in Hampton, VA at NASA Langley Research Center. “I was afforded the opportunity to work on exciting projects with real-world implications,” said Nathaniel. At NASA, he learned extensively about UAV safety, flight-testing, navigation, and GPS operations. Nathaniel has used his experience with UAVs to speak at symposiums and panels such as the Ohio Township Association (OTA) and the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP).

“UAVs and Machine Learning are extremely hot topics right now,” explained Nathaniel, “I look forward to combining the two to create products that help both companies and individuals perform their jobs in an easier and safer manner.”

Nathaniel’s third rotation was at the UAV MASTER Lab on campus. He states that he was able to advance his programming skills and knowledge of the Machine Learning field through this co-op assignment, and was also able to get a jump-start on his master’s work. He has received a fellowship from the Ohio Space Grant Consortium (OSGC) to support his master’s research.

“I recommend that fellow students find a professor who is willing to invest in you relatively early in your undergraduate career,” Nathaniel spoke in regard to Kelly Cohen, PhD and Professor of Aerospace Engineering. “Dr. Cohen has recommended me for several scholarships, awards, recognition, and co-op positions – all with enthusiasm.”

Developing his UAV senior design project alongside his fellow classmates is what Nathaniel regards as being his best memory at UC.

Nathaniel will be finishing the remainder of his undergraduate courses next year while also starting graduate courses. He will be conducting research under Professor Cohen, and he is expected to graduate with his Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering by the summer of 2018.

The College of Engineering and Applied Science congratulates Nathaniel Richards on his outstanding achievements thus far and as the July Engineer of the Month.

Select for previous Engineers of the Month.