Student Profile: Noa Holloway

The Woodruff School is home to 2,000 undergraduates and more than 800 graduate students, and they all have a story to tell. Find out why Noa chose Georgia Tech, what he enjoys about mechanical engineering, and why he chose to pursue undergraduate research.

Noa Holloway in front of the MRDC Building

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself – where are you from and why did you choose Georgia Tech?

A: My name is Noa Holloway and I’m a second-year mechanical engineering major. I'm from Decatur, Georgia and I graduated from Charles Drew Charter School which is a public school in East Atlanta. I decided to attend Georgia Tech because I was offered a great financial aid package. As an in-state student the cost made it tough to beat compared to some out of state schools I was looking at.

Q: When did you know that you wanted to study engineering?

A: During high school I was enrolled in a four-year engineering curriculum. The engineering courses were fun and enjoyable so I decided to major in engineering at Tech. Before coming to Tech I didn’t realize how many areas of engineering there were, but I knew I had to pick a specific engineering major. I chose mechanical because it’s such a broad field.

Q: What have you enjoyed about mechanical engineering so far?

A: The ME 1770 class called Introduction to Engineering Graphics and Visualization was really fun. I’ve always enjoyed hands-on learning and working with others so the group project that involved CAD and 3D printing was the perfect assignment for me. I like seeing something come to fruition after I make it. I think these types of projects are pretty common throughout the program which is a plus.

Q: What organizations or clubs are you involved in?

A: Last year I was the program chair for the freshman chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) -Lambda Delta Rho. I am currently involved in NSBE and the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program. I also participate in intramural flag football and soccer.

Q: Tell us more about the VIP Program – what team are you a part of?

A: I'm a part of the secure hardware team. I’m working on a project that involves secure multi-party computation. We are basically trying to find a way for multiple parties to compute an outcome securely without adversaries trying to access the data that they're computing. The project is intended for computer engineering, computer science and electrical engineering majors, but I thought it would be beneficial to do something a little different and, explore other areas of engineering outside of mechanical.

Q: What do you like about this particular project?

A: I like the concepts of encryption and being part of a team that helps prevent unauthorized parties from accessing private information. I get to use really large prime numbers as the base that serves as a code and someone trying to access information can’t because it would take them years to try and find the factors the prime numbers are based off of.

Q: Who advises the secure hardware team?

A: Dr. Vincent Mooney, a Georgia Tech professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Q: What made you decide to participate in the VIP Program?

A: A lot of the older mechanical engineering students recommended the VIP Program. They said it was similar to having a part-time job and that participants are able to gain real world experience that employers will value.

Noa Holloway in front of the city skyline

Q: What's your favorite Georgia Tech memory so far?

A: At the end of last year we had a freshman get together in the Caldwell Hall basement to celebrate a classmate’s birthday. Students from all over campus were there including friends I had met in the classroom, dorms and in different programs. It was fun to be around all the great people I had met throughout the year. Academic life at Georgia Tech is challenging so it’s nice to be surrounded by so many people that you can rely on during the tough times. We had all made it through the first year together and that was something to celebrate.

Q: What's the biggest lesson you've learned so far?

A: You have to plan out everything that you want. You have to have plans, a backup plan and then backup plans for the backup plan. When things don’t work out the way you plan it you have to learn how to persevere. Georgia Tech has also taught me to never quit – if it was easy, everybody would do it!

Q: Do you have any idea what you want to do after you graduate?

A: Not yet. My interests are pretty broad and I want to try different things. I have enjoyed the SolidWorks class so much that I may want to explore product design. I could also see myself working for Accenture because I like consulting and solving problems.

Q: Do you have any rules that you live by?

A:I try to eat three times a day and meet as many people as I can. You never know where the connections you make throughout life could lead or how you could help each other out in the future.

Q: Do you have a favorite place on campus to study?

A: Last year my favorite place to study was the Multimedia Studio in the Georgia Tech Library. They provide services for large format printing and I enjoyed seeing the different posters students made. They also have large tables which allowed me to spread out my study materials.

Q: Do you have any role models you've looked up to along the way?

A: I met a guy, Greg, through NSBE. He’s a Georgia Tech computer science graduate and now works at Apple. Greg reached out to me before I even got here and gave me a lot of tips, which really helped because I had no idea what Georgia Tech was like or what to expect. Another role model I have is Io. He's a fourth year in computer engineering and has helped me a lot along the way. Finally, I look up to a lot of the guys who are active in NSBE. They secure a lot of internships and that's something I strive for.

Q: What is a fun fact that most people don't know about you?

A: I play Pokemon Showdown on my computer every day. A lot of people wouldn't expect that but I love Pokemon so much.

Q: What's your favorite thing about being at Georgia Tech?

A: I think it's the pride in the challenge. A lot of people can say they did this and that in college, but when you say you went to Georgia Tech, people look at you differently. They know it's hard and they know what it means to get accepted and then graduate – it’s an accomplishment. With me being a minority student, I take pride in getting in, doing the work, and getting the most out of it.

Q: Was Georgia Tech on your radar in school at all?

A: No, not at all. My school partnered with Georgia Tech when I was in eighth grade on a “Bridge to Tech" program that was centered on becoming familiar with high school. I was used to coming on campus because the program brought us here, but I had never thought about coming here for undergrad. The morning that I got accepted was when I took the SAT, and I received a high enough score to not have to take pre-calculus. That was a good day and I'm glad I'm here.