David Schmidt

David Schmidt

David Schmidt is a mechatronics engineering major from South Elgin, IL

Hometown: South Elgin, IL

Year: Expected graduation: 2023

Major: Mechatronics engineering

What scholarships did you receive and why did you receive them? How has the financial support impacted your experience at NIU?
I received the Huskie Excellence Scholarship and Honors Excellence Award. These scholarships have made a big impact on my education. Not only does it save our family money for other things, but it ensures I will have little to no school loans to pay back after I graduate. 

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
I always dreamed of being an astronaut. As I went through school, my interest kept shifting to wanting to work on robotics. By the time I got to NIU, I started pursuing my passion for mechatronics engineering.

What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
I study mechatronics engineering. I chose this area because I enjoy building things and the satisfaction of seeing something work as intended. That's why robots struck me as a peak interest, so much work goes into them, but they can be so useful and so satisfying.

What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
In comparison to friends who go to bigger name universities, I am so happy I went to NIU. The opportunities and personal interactions possible with a smaller university have been incredible.

How have you connected with other students to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
With the number of opportunities (inside and out of the classroom) offered here, I have made many connections I will hold onto for life.

Are you involved in any student organizations, mentoring programs or extra-curricular activities? If so, which ones? How have they added to your experience as a Huskie?
I have been an undergraduate researcher at NIU's Biodynamics Lab since my first week here, and this experience has opened so many doors for me. From the connections I've made, to the theories/concepts I’ve learned, to maturing into a professional engineer as time goes on, getting involved in research early on was so crucial for me.

What NIU offices, departments or resources have helped you succeed? And how?
The University Honors Program of course has helped me build my resume to look stronger and enhance my overall experience here. I also have relied on tutoring as a freshman because the transition from high school to college was quite the jump. Finally, I utilized the university's Career Services office from time to time to get advice for my resume, so I can stand out at the job fair. 

What Honors Program opportunities or support have helped you get closer to your academic or career goals so far?
Two things, Research Rookies and Mr. Dennis Barsema's honors engaged bootcamp. Research Rookies pushes you to apply what you learn in the classroom to real-world applications. The second thing, if you ever get a chance to listen to Mr. Barsema speak about leadership, or anything for that matter, don't hesitate. I learned so much from him in just three short leadership sessions.

What do you enjoy the most about the Honors Program?
The opportunities it brings as described are huge, but aside from those, the honors coursework is neat. Even in the general education classes, being in the honors section allows you to dive into deeper topics and conversations you otherwise wouldn't experience not being in the honors program. Might be more work, but you learn more!

Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
Dr. Brian Coller is one of the dynamics guys for the engineering college. The way he teaches allows the concepts to stick even after the class is over. He also knows a lot about programming and other key engineering topics, and he is fun to be around and absorb information from.

How have you benefited by attending class regularly?
Missing a class feels like you get a week behind. Being there is key, so you don't miss anything. You also don't have to struggle as much when working on projects or homework.

Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
The Biodynamics Lab is my home away from home. I spend so much time here, and I commute quite a distance, so I can always rely on the lab for a calm place to work.

What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
Don't overlook NIU. May not be the flashiest school, but if you get involved and find the right people, you will get everything you want and more out of being a Huskie. 

Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
I was always good at time management, but when you get to college, you need to be really good at it. Building schedules for homework/projects, social time, classes and research is a lot, but it'll help you build a rhythm easier.

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I play a lot of tennis, go Frisbee golfing or play guitar.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
I want to especially thank all the faculty and staff at the Biodynamics Lab because, seriously, without them, I wouldn't be half the engineer I am today. They were a big reason I got an internship this past summer and how I know the things about being engineer today.

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