Fund Helps Students Engineer Career Path
Mechanical engineering student Jay Park had a realization while working on his senior design project last year. Assigned by the Department of Defense, Jay and his teammates had to design and build a robot that could detect corrosion in hard-to-reach places, such as inside a ship’s fuel tank.
Part of Jay’s work was to connect the mechanical and electrical parts of the robot, giving it the ability to move. Jay loved the challenge and was spurred to pursue a career track in mechatronics—a field combining mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science.
The mechanical engineering program at George Mason University’s Volgenau School of Engineering is relatively new. The first classes were offered in 2014. A top priority for this program is positioning students like Jay on the pathway to becoming a licensed professional engineer.
One of the first steps is passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. Many students put off this tough exam until after graduation; some never follow through, due to its cost (currently $225) as well as other factors.
Thanks to a gift from WGL Holdings, however, Mason engineering students who pass the exam can now be reimbursed through the newly established Washington Gas Light Pathway to Professional Licensure Fund.
Jay, whose family moved to Virginia from South Korea when he was young, was the first student to take advantage of this fund. An alumnus of Centreville High School, Jay started at Mason as a biology major before adding mechanical engineering as his second major. Despite having a heavy course load his senior year (19-20 credits per semester), Jay was motivated to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam before graduating when he learned that reimbursement was being offered.
Jay passed the test. Then he began encouraging his nervous classmates by emphasizing that at Mason “the professors do a great job explaining the topics that are questions on the exam.” Now that Jay has graduated and is halfway to becoming a licensed professional engineer, he is searching for a job in mechatronics.
As for current Mason engineering students, Jay hopes to cheer them on. He says, “Everyone should take this opportunity and get this exam done now, especially with the reimbursement for students.”
December 1, 2017 / Diana Sanchez