Sarah Fleck is a transfer student, mechanical engineering major from Geneva, IL
Hometown: Geneva, IL
Year: Expected graduation: May 2020
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Transfer from: Waubonsee Community College, Elgin Community College
What is your major, and why did you choose your field of study?
My major is mechanical engineering. I chose this field because I enjoy creating and learning about how things work. Engineering in general is a very diverse field with endless opportunities. I felt the most comfortable with the mechanical discipline and have found myself working with materials in particular. I'm currently researching biomaterials, an area I did not know would be included in mechanical engineering.
How did you learn about NIU, and why did you choose to attend?
My brother graduated from NIU with a bachelor's in biochemistry, so I was familiar with the school already. I started at Waubonsee Community College not knowing what I wanted to pursue. I transferred to Elgin Community College and graduated with an associate's in applied science in the pastry arts program. After briefly working in the field I reconsidered my career choice and began looking into different options. I came across engineering and decided on a new path. I picked up where I left off at Waubonsee and transferred to NIU to begin my engineering courses.
Do you have any favorite activities or events at NIU? What else do you do for fun in your spare time?
My favorite event an NIU would have to be Senior Design Demonstration Day. Demo day is held at the Convocation Center at NIU and all the engineering students get to present the projects they have been working on for the past two semesters. It's really interesting to see the finished projects of the students and get inspiration for what you may want to end up doing in the future. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking and baking. My previous major was in pastry, and although I'm no longer pursuing it as a career I'm still passionate about it at home. It is another form of creating something interesting to me and can be challenging, as well.
What do you like about campus and the DeKalb area?
NIU has an Outdoor Adventures program that I think offers a lot of fun events and opportunities if you enjoy being outside. They also have gear rental that allows you to try out canoeing, camping, snowboarding and other outdoor activities without having to invest too much. It's a great way to relieve some stress, in my opinion!
Would you recommend NIU to others and why? What’s a general piece of advice you’d give to someone starting college?
I think the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology has a lot to offer its students. There are a number of clubs you can get involved with which will help you meet other students with similar interests as you. Your professors are a great resource to find out what direction you may want to start working towards and can be excellent references if you end up working with them on projects or research topics. Another important piece of advice would be to go to class! As tempting as it may be to skip class, you never know when a professor will give some useful information for an exam or even an extra credit opportunity. My last piece of advice is to manage yourself as best you can. College can be very stressful, so it's important to take care of yourself. Any machine that isn't well maintained is going to break down at some point. Make sure you have time for school and time for you — I think both sides are key to being successful.