Alumni Spotlight

Name: Sophie Pesek ’16
Undergrad: Harvard College
Major: Environmental Science & Engineering, focus on sustainable development, especially concerning water treatment and access to sanitation due to the impacts of climate change. Externship: Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering department at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
Reflections on her Externship: This experience is one of my fondest memories and certainly informed many of my interests today. I loved seeing the way science and the study of the natural world could impact human and ecosystem health. It was also valuable in teaching me how important engineering the right tools can be in solving any given problem. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it exposed me to a nurturing environment of researchers who were constantly exploring, giving talks, and encouraging me to ask novel questions, all while solving problems through engineering. It helped me to realize how much I love this type of academic environment and problem-solving approach.
What she’s up to now: [Since Wood’s Hole], I have dabbled in several areas, including researching solar cells on campus, working on heat pump technology in China, monitoring coastal erosion and fisheries in Suriname, and, this summer, working on waste treatment in Ghana. I do hope to pursue more degrees at the cross-section of the environment and engineering in the future, and I am incredibly grateful for the strong foundation that the Engineering Honors Program has given me.
Name: Brian O’Sullivan ’16
Undergrad: Columbia University
Majors: Mathematics-Statistics and Sociology
Externship: MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics
Reflections on his Externship: Getting the opportunity to work in any professional environment as a high school student is an incredible opportunity. Looking back on my externship, the structure that is in place to support the externship before, during, and after the experience makes the program one of a kind for high schoolers. Moreover, I do not think I realized at the time just how much the externship would shape my interests for the better and allow me to explore areas outside of the classroom that I never thought possible.
What he’s up to now: The summer I spent at the Center for Transportation and Logistics at MIT changed the entire course of my educational, and in turn my professional, career. Prior to the externship, I had never really heard of data analysis and had not done any work in the area. Over the course of that summer, however, I learned just how tangible and exciting data analysis can be in relation to the real world. In the years following my externship, I starting a company with a fellow SPS alum called Fanalytical Solutions, which worked to use data analysis to help sports franchises better understand their attendance and revenue. I also returned to the CTL following my first year of college to grow my analytical abilities even further. Lastly, I am currently serving as the president of the Columbia Data Science Society, which helps to show the Columbia community how versatile data science can be. Though I did not know what I wanted to study in college when I started at SPS, the Engineering Honors Course, especially through the guidance of Mr. Wardrop and Mr. Renauld, helped me to see how data can be used to make more informed decisions and that my true passion lies within data analysis.
Name: Sophia Brocoum ’17
Undergrad: Boston University
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Externship: The Center for Sciences and Biomedical Engineering at Wentworth Institute of Technology
Reflections on her Externship: Looking back on my Engineering Honors externship, I gained far more than simply experience in my specific area of focus. I learned how to approach searching for an externship (which translates to an eventual career search), and how to manage expectations of success. Presenting my experience in front of the whole school was a really great exercise in preparation and consolidating a considerable amount of work into 2-3 minutes, which is harder than it may seem! I learned skills in managing my own workload, as it was primarily an independent research project. I also gained fluency in high-level scientific research, as I had to read many peer-reviewed journal articles, chapters, etc. One of the most valuable things that I took away from my experience with the Engineering Honors Program, now the Applied Science and Engineering Program, was the connection to my research mentor.
What she’s up to now: I am currently an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Biomedical Engineering. This summer I am interning at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, working with the Genomics Platform in their Samples Lab.