“Don’t underestimate the value of working hard for good grades. There’s really good value in putting your best foot forward.”
A lacrosse player from Morristown, New Jersey, Jack Thompson plans to earn his master’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. Here he shares highlights of his Rutgers experience along with his hopes for the future.
Why did you choose Rutgers School of Engineering?
My case is a little different. I’m a student athlete and was recruited to play lacrosse. I wanted to play Division I lacrosse, but also knew I wanted to be an engineer. In high school, I was physics and math inclined. My brother is an engineer, so that had something to do with my choice.
Rutgers has good engineering and good alumni connections to help get you started on your career path.
Have you played lacrosse throughout?
This is my final season. I’ve played defense for all four undergraduate years.
What drew you to aerospace engineering?
There are new upcoming technologies and new things happening every day that attracted me to the major.
Do you have a favorite course? Why?
I really liked spacecraft mission design. It was a really cool course. It’s less technically based, with little to no math, but very research based. It covers so many of the topics that go into designing spacecraft and missions. The course was a great learning environment.
What about a favorite professor?
Professor Edward DeMauro, who I’ve had for two courses. He’s also supervising my research. My master’s thesis that I will defend will be based on research I’m doing in his lab.
What does your research involve?
His lab is the supersonic wind tunnel at Rutgers, and anyone who works with him studies specific flow phenomena -- things that would happen with missiles or military supersonic jets.
My project is pretty technical and has to do with supersonic control.
Have you had any internships?
The summer after my sophomore year, I worked as a mechanical engineering intern for a mechanical design consultant in New York City. Last summer, I was a research assistant in the supersonic wind tunnel. That experience led me to decide I wanted to continue on and get my own project and pursue the five-year joint BS/MS program.
What is your senior design project?
My team is working on a remote controlled propeller thrust test stand. We delegated responsibilities in the fall and are now working together in the testing phase. I’m the manufacturing lead. My role is designing the structure of the stand and its hardware and manufacturing it in the machine shop. We’ve pretty much finished assembling the structure, so our first demonstration is coming up. We should be pretty well ahead of schedule.
What do you hope to do after you get your master’s degree?
After I get my master’s and finally graduate, my plan is to accept a technical entry-level engineering position with an aerospace company. Big picture and way in the future, I’d like to oversee entire big cutting-edge aerospace projects, which might require me to get my MBA.
Are you involved with any extracurricular organizations?
I don’t have any time. I tried to join a club, but after one meeting, I knew I didn’t have time for it. Lacrosse can take up to 30 hours a week – and more if you include travel to away games.
What do you like to do when you do have free time?
During the week, I like to just sit on the couch and watch Survivor with my roommates. In summer and winter when I have time, I love reading non-fiction aerospace books, and golfing with my friends.
Do you have any advice for new students?
Some have been saying that grades don’t matter, but I disagree. Don’t underestimate the value of working hard for good grades. There’s really good value in putting your best foot forward and working hard.
Have you thought about giving back to future SoE students?
One day I know I should and will give back. Rutgers alumni do so much for the school. This strong alumni connection is what gives value to the school community.