Student Spotlight: Lauren Paulson
December 10, 2020 | Angel Garcia
First-year student Lauren Paulson jumped right in when she arrived at Georgia Tech, getting involved in a broad range of student organizations that blend the arts and technical skills. Read her Q&A to learn more about what she has learned, what obstacles she has overcome, and what she would tell aspiring mechanical engineering students.
Where are you from?
I have lived in Texas, Arkansas, and Ohio. Then, from 8th grade to 12th grade, I lived in England. I now live in Atlanta.
What year are you?
I am a freshman.
Out of all of your options, why did you choose Georgia Tech?
I chose Georgia Tech for the amazing opportunities and the engineering program. I also love the feel and environment of the student body and campus. It was amazing to see Georgia Tech representatives come all the way to my school in England and talk to me. I was also very happy that I was able to visit the campus during the summer of my junior year.
What got you into mechanical engineering?
My 6th grade teacher introduced me to engineering after seeing my interest in science and math after doing a presentation about Legos. My 7th grade math club leader also invited me to a NASA Young Astronauts event, where I got to see various engineering events as well as meet a female astronaut. I decided on mechanical engineering after doing a summer program at Cal Poly which introduced me to the various sides of engineering and its related disciplines (mechanical, electrical, chemical, nano, welding, and computer science). This, along with taking both mechanical and electrical physics in high school, helped me decide on mechanical engineering.
Lauren at NASA’s Young Astronautsday with astronaut Stephanie Willson
How do you think your background has affected you as a student?
As someone who lived in America for the first 12 years of their life and then went to England, I am, in a way, returning home being a bit out of touch with some parts of the American culture. This, along with having friends all over the world since I went to an international high school, has given me a different experience than other students and one that I can add to conversations.
What was the hardest thing about transitioning to Georgia Tech?
Like I mentioned previously, it was difficult to relearn some parts of American culture. On top of that, I broke my leg the first week of freshman year, which was difficult. I also had to learn to become more independent in my learning since I was coming from a school where one year, I had a class that was just me, one other student, and the teacher. I had to learn to be a lot more independent, especially with online school.
What was something that surprised you about your major?
I was so surprised by how helpful and kind everyone has been, especially the older students. I was expecting students to be more competitive and unwilling to help since Georgia Tech is such a rigorous and selective school, but that is not the case. I am also in some classes and clubs where I am the only one out of a few freshmen, yet everyone has been so welcoming and encouraging me to speak up and share my ideas.
What hobbies do you have?
I enjoy drawing, reading, cooking, working on various personal projects of mine, and performing one-woman musicals in my room.
What do you enjoy the most about your hobbies?
I enjoy getting to be more creative and expressing myself and my own interests. I also enjoy having fun, and an outlet to let out some of the stress from work.
What has been your favorite experience at Georgia Tech so far?
It was incredible seeing every single Drama Tech Show this semester. It is amazing to see what we can put on even with Covid-19. I also recovered enough from my broken leg to walk without crutches the day before I went into class to pick up my final project this semester. So, all my classmates, who had seen me in a wheelchair or crutches the entire semester, cheered me on as I walked up to collect my project.
What clubs or after-school activities have you taken part in, and what was your experience with them?
I have been involved with Drama Tech since my start at Georgia Tech. I first got involved through an open house where I was a performer. I guess I took the expression “break a leg” seriously, because two hours before I was supposed to perform, I broke my leg. Since then, I have been involved with marketing, outreach, and sound. I also helped create the video for our Fall Festival and even designed the program for the most recent performance “A Night of One Acts.” I just began working with YJSP (Yellow Jackets Space Program) where I am going to work on marketing and graphic design. I have also started working with GT Hyperloop as a part of the Vehicle Dynamics team.
In your time being a student here what unique opportunities have you gained from being a student at Tech?
The clubs here are insane. How many 18-year-olds get to work on sending a rocket into space and designing a hyperloop car? The workspaces are amazing. I thought I was in heaven when I saw a wall of 3D printers in the Invention Studio that students could use. My courses have also provided great opportunities for creativity. For example, in one of my classes, I am designing a device that can allow wheelchair users to open doors.
What is one fun fact about yourself?
I am a certified Scuba diver and have dived with sharks, eels, rays, turtles, and tons of other amazing marine life.
What advice would you give to people who are looking to get into mechanical engineering?
You should make sure you are doing what you love and remind yourself of that. When you are in a class, especially a more intro level or pre-req class, it can be difficult to remind yourself that you do actually love engineering and that the ideas you are learning are not only just in a lecture or textbook, but also have very important and exciting real world uses.
In your opinion what is the best thing about mechanical engineering?
I love getting to combine creativity, and technical math and science skills to create something absolutely incredible.
What do you like to do to relax after a long day?
I enjoy drawing, watching, and listening to or singing to songs from musicals, as well as talking to younger students about engineering and my experiences as an engineering student. This is very important to me because I did not know that engineering was a field for so long and had fears going into it as a woman for a while. So, I want to help encourage current high school and middle school students that they can do this, and their dreams are achievable. By talking to these students, it also helps give me reminders of how much I love engineering and that I can also do this.