Garrett Dowd

Garrett Dowd will be the student speaker at the Spring Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 9, at 2 p.m. He is an honors student graduating with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, summa cum laude.

Hometown: Silver Lake

Graduate: Walsh Jesuit High School

What’s next? Earning an MSc. of Technology Entrepreneurship at University College London in England.

Q: Did you do an internship or co-op? How did that help you prepare for a career?

A: For an engineering student, my path of internships was a tad nontraditional, however it is what I cherish most from my time here at UA. After a wonderful summer working at Rosetta in Cleveland after my freshman year, my first engineering internship was with a company named Power Plaza. Power Plaza is a South Korean company with headquarters in Seoul. I worked in Seoul on mechanical designs for a personal electric vehicle. My second engineering internship was with Tata Consultancy Services where I worked in Bangalore on guidance algorithms for autonomous vehicle technology.

These internships gave me the opportunity to use my technical knowledge and creativity while gaining unparalleled communication, professional, career and life experience. I am happy to say that my internship experiences during my time at UA have prepared me for any future challenges that lie ahead. I would like to thank the Engineering Co-op Office and Dr. Akhilesh Chandra for my experiences in Seoul and Bangalore.

Q: How are you going to spend your time between graduation and what’s next?

A: During the summer after graduation, I am being sponsored by the mechanical engineering professional society, ASME, to participate in the Washington Internships for Students of Engineering (WISE) program in Washington, D.C. In this program, we are asked to create a federal policy recommendation on a topic of our own choosing. I will be using experience from past internships to research and create a recommendation regarding the implementation of autonomous vehicle (‘driverless car”) technology into today’s society and transportation infrastructure. Autonomous vehicle technology has the potential to transform the quality of our daily commute while at the same time eliminating fatal vehicular crashes caused by distraction, impairment and lack of sleep. However, federal policy concerning safety regulations and infrastructure enhancement is almost nonexistent.

I am very excited to be getting involved in this policy at a critical time for autonomous vehicle technology. I am very thankful to Dr. Daniel Deckler from Wayne College for introducing me to the program.

Q: What’s your advice to incoming freshmen?

A: Find something you really care about and pursue it. In my case, I started college without truly knowing what I was passionate about and I wasn’t even necessarily sure that engineering was the path of education that I wanted to follow. My first two years on campus allowed me to experiment with different career ideas through on-campus and off-campus organizations and activities. Becoming involved with so many things outside of academics was very important for me and I am thankful for all of the opportunities the University and the Akron community presented to me.

However, beyond academics and extracurricular involvement, meeting and connecting with so many of the brilliant and motivated students and faculty on campus really allowed me to understand what I cared about. In my case, the secret of “success” was people. I am humbled to call so many people my friend and I am grateful for all of the support and insight they have given me.

Garrett Dowd