When sophomore Brandon Sander reflects upon the gap between his high school education and his current studies as a materials engineering and mechanical engineering double major, he fully understands the size of the challenge he tackled.
“I went to a small county high school where there wasn’t much depth to the curriculum. We only had two advanced placement classes, so I rarely had to study for anything,” he shares. “Once I got here, my biggest challenge was learning how to study and pushing myself to figure out exactly what I needed to know.”
Once Brandon established reliable study routines, he made the transition from Lewis County High School (725 students) to the 20,000+ student body at UK with ease.
“Obviously, there are many more people here, but materials engineering lends itself to getting to know fellow classmates well,” Brandon says. “We all start out in the same place and progress through the classes and labs together. ”
In addition to Brandon’s materials engineering studies, he is also pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He believes the dual degree will provide him with a solid foundation for a career in aerospace or aeronautics. To supplement his studies, Brandon plans to join multidisciplinary student organizations like the Solar Car Team. He has also availed himself to one of the many study abroad opportunities, spending the summer of 2011 taking Calculus III in Germany.
“I really enjoyed studying overseas. I would be very interested in going back for another class or even an internship,” he says.
As he wraps up his sophomore year, Brandon says he is pleased with the materials engineering curriculum, as well as the professors with whom he has interacted.
“The materials engineering program is excellent. The labs are hands-on and require you to thoroughly complete every step of the process. It’s perfect for going into any field where you don’t have to simply make things happen, but understand why they are happening,” he affirms. “John Balk and Matthew Beck have been some of my favorite professors. They both work to make their topics comprehensible and they ask questions designed to make students work through what they already know to come up with an answer.”
Because Brandon is double-majoring two engineering degrees in addition to future internship or opportunities through the Cooperative Education Program (Co-op), he will likely require six or even seven years to fulfill graduation requirements. Nevertheless, he is fully engaged in a program he enjoys and is also making the most of the extracurricular activities available to him, such as attending home basketball games and hanging out with friends. It all adds up to an education experience he expects will only get better.
“The College of Engineering is living up to the good reputation it had when I was deciding where to go to college,” Brandon declares. “I have a lot of pride in going to this school.”