"I love flying. I love and appreciate the engineering behind it."
Justin Lareau is a senior studying for a BS degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering. The Manchester, New Jersey native looks back on his time at the SoE – and looks forward to his future.
Why did you choose Rutgers SoE?
I chose Rutgers for a few reasons. I transferred from Ocean County College and wanted a school close to home. From research I did, I found that Rutgers’ engineering reputation is on the rise -- out-of-state and in state. I also got a nice financial package, which was a big incentive.
What is your particular interest in mechanical engineering?
I’m interested in the aerospace industry and aviation.
When did you first become interested in engineering?
At a young age, I was particularly interested in planes and I quickly fell in love with flying. While at Ocean Community College, I was able to get my private pilot’s license. I love flying – I love and appreciate the engineering behind it.
What do you most enjoy about flying a small plane?
You get a new perspective on the neighborhood you live in and everything you’re flying over. It’s interactive and fun. You feel every bump and are really a part of the experience.
What do you think first year students should know about mechanical engineering? If you know you want to go into engineering, but don’t know exactly what area you want to focus on, this is a really good option. It’s a diverse program with a broad curriculum, so you gain experience in a lot of different disciplines and which gives you a lot of options career-wise.
What is your senior project?
It’s a computer program – which goes to show the diversity in mechanical engineering! It helps output structures on the moon or on Mars. We picked out ideal locations for a structure, based on considerations of temperature, low radiation exposure, gravity. The user can load our program – then specify the planetary body they want to visit, the number of people who will use the structure, variables like that. It does a structural analysis and designs a structure that won’t fail.
Do you have a favorite professor?
I have two. Professor Haym Benaroya, who is my senior advisor. He’s intelligent, down-to-earth and knows how to strike passion in students.
Professor Assimina Pelegri is my other favorite. I worked with her in starting up the Mechanical Engineering Student Association. She cares about students and works to improve the department. She’s helped me develop professionally and as a leader.
Have you had any internships?
Yes. I was fortunate to work on an improved velocity tracking system for jet carts that have aircraft strapped to them at Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station.
Last summer, I worked on the construction site of a 79-unit assisted living facility, and learned a lot about the business of putting a building up. It made for an interesting summer to say the least!
What do you plan to do after you graduate?
I’m still figuring that out. My current goal is to be a flight test engineer. This summer, I have an internship with Textron -- they own Cessna and Bell Helicopter – in Charleston, South Carolina. I’ll be in the department where they build and maintain military flight simulators. It should be exciting and a lot of fun!
What do you see yourself in five years?
That’s a tough question. I hope I’ll have a steady full-time job, where each day is a new experience with a new problem to fix. I hope to be starting a family and I hope I’ll still be heavily involved in flying!
How do you hope to give back to future SoE students?
Through the Mechanical Engineering Student Association, I’m on the industry advisory board and see how dedicated alumni are helping to improve the department and helping to bring in internships to the department. Going forward, I’d hope to do the same by bringing in internships with whatever company I work for. I’d also like to mentor department students – give them some guidance to help them find the success they are looking for.
What is a favorite SoE memory?
Football games where the whole Rutgers community comes together. It’s a nice experience to see everyone come together like that.
What do you do for fun?
I fly. Even though I can’t afford it right now. Once I get my degree and accumulate some dollars, I’ll get back in that game! I love music and play guitar as often as possible and dabble on piano and sax. I also like playing baseball and basketball with friends and watching sports on TV.