My Story

Born in Iran, where my parents were denied education beyond their primary years, they worked hard for our family to immigrate to the United States in 2007 to provide greater opportunities to me and my sister than they had. I quickly picked up English, and found that it wasn’t hard for me to gain a general understanding of various subjects. I excelled in many areas of study and was able to graduate from the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program at Mira Loma High School.

Finishing up my general education, I needed to decide on a major. I had always been curious about how things worked and how the elements of our daily lives interact. I also appreciated the conveniences afforded by technology, which freed up time for more important endeavors. It became clear that there was only one major that could encompass all these interests: computer engineering. This course of study would allow me to apply my skills to something that could truly make a difference. My academic journey began at California State University, Sacramento, where I gained a broad understanding of various subjects. Ultimately, it led me to California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, where the ‘learn by doing’ mentality resonated with me.

At Cal Poly, I was able to engage in various areas of research, focusing on drone technologies and using natural language processing to control drones with voice commands. I also participated in several projects at the Reconfigurable Space Computing Laboratory (RSCL), where I thrived in an environment that presented a new challenge daily. Eventually, I became the Lab Manager, assisting with eight different projects. These projects were part of the NASA MINDS competition, where teams of students worked to meet operational needs for the Artemis mission. Our overarching goal is to create a collaborative robotic environment where all our projects work together to map out environments and discover new worlds.

My main project within the lab was the Multi-Configuration Adaptive Navigator for Extra-Terrestrial Environments (MANEE). This drone combined various sensors and an arm equipped with servos that could adjust the pitch and position of the thrusters. Such adaptability allowed the drone to maneuver through tight spaces and optimize itself for specific tasks and environments. As the project lead, I was responsible for the overall design and integration of the systems. I also handled the CAD designs and the fabrication of parts using precision CNC-machined carbon fiber and resin-printed components. This role enabled me to gain experience not only as a leader but also in seeing a project from concept to completion, along with navigating the various challenges that arose.

Overall, I’m committed to continually expanding my horizons. Education doesn’t stop in the classroom; as engineers, we are expected to keep learning throughout our careers. This doesn’t mean we should limit ourselves to our specific areas of study. Looking beyond and embracing a broader set of skills can be invaluable. Being a ‘jack of all trades and a master of none’ is often more useful than being a master of just one.