April 7, 2021 | By Angel Garcia
In this Q&A with student assistant Angel Garcia first-year student Jovanna Patterson talks about her interest in aerospace engineering, being the only mechanical engineering student to receive the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship, and what she is looking forward to during the rest of her time at Tech.
What year are you?
I am a first-year.
Where are you from?
I am from Douglasville, GA.
How do you think your background has affected you as a student?
My parents taught me that one thing no one can take away is your knowledge. When I was younger, I would get books for Christmas and was encouraged to read as much as possible. It instilled in me the value of a good education. I was also in the International Baccalaureate Program at my school, and the culture of this program bolstered my desire to become a better student as understanding and knowledge was incredibly emphasized, even beyond the classroom.
What got you into mechanical engineering and what attracts you towards focusing on aerospace?
The idea of creating the future always interested me, and I had a fascination with robots and space. I wouldn’t have to compromise either of my interests by working on robots and automation in the space industry.
What do you want to do with aerospace and your career in the future?
I want to create robots and machinery for space exploration.
What opportunities have you been able to take advantage while at Tech?
Most of the major opportunities I’ve received, like the MIT hacking racism in healthcare challenge and PGSF, have been outside of Georgia Tech. However, I’ve taken advantage of my advisers and the tutoring Georgia Tech offers. I also hope to take part in a VIP soon.
What does receiving the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship mean to you?
Receiving the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship means a lot to me. It’s a great opportunity. It’s an internship, scholarship, and mentorship all in one. I especially love how the founders have come together and used their own personal time to create a fellowship for Black STEM students who are interested in the aerospace industry.
How does it feel to be the only student in mechanical engineering to receive the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship?
I was not surprised to be the only mechanical engineering student. Many engineers who have an interest in space just major in aerospace engineering. It didn’t bother me being the only mechanical enginnering student. I think it’s a good thing as people with different majors can provide different perspectives.
How do you think being at Tech will help you towards your future goals?
I think Tech has a lot of great opportunities for hands-on experience that I want to take advantage of. Having real experiences working as an engineer will ultimately build my skill set which is integral to my future goals as a roboticist. I can do well in my classes, but I need real world experiences. I think Tech can provide me with that.
Going forward, what are you excited about with your college career?
I’m excited to take advantage of the study abroad programs and the research opportunities.
In your opinion what is the best thing about your major?
The best thing about mechanical engineering is how broad it is. I don’t feel trapped in one section of engineering. I see the privileges that come with the mobility. When I see opportunities that involves engineering, nine times out of ten they will request a mechanical engineer along with an engineer of that specific field.
So far, what has been the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I am most proud of being part of the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship. It was competitive, and I am proud to be a part of a community of such intelligent people.
What clubs or after-school activities have you taken part in, and what was your experience with them?
I am part of the National Society of Black Engineers, the GT Figure Skating Club, and the Japan Student Association.
What activities do you like to take part in during your free time?
I will typically watch travel videos or study a language in my free time.
What advice would you give to people who are looking to get into mechanical engineering?
For people looking to get into mechanical engineering, I would recommend that they look into what they would like to do in the field. There are many different aspects to mechanical engineering, and it’s easier creating goals and having a proper vision when you have a focal point and hone in on it.