Student Spotlight: Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith
Major: Engineering/Physics

Aaron Smith likes word problems. And he knows some people may find that weird.

“I enjoy the process of thinking through each new problem, wrestling with the words until they turn into an equation and the satisfaction of finally arriving at the right answer,” he said. “Physics, in a concrete way, teaches you how the world works, how things are moving, and predicts where they’re headed – and that’s just cool.”

But Smith couldn’t always predict where he was headed, despite having a natural curiosity about life.

“Early on, my curiosity was paired with a disregard for authority, and this turbulent combination of traits often got me into trouble,” he said. “When I was 18, I needed a place to grow up, somewhere with a strong set of rules to help guide me – guardrails to my road, if you will. The military was a great place for that.”

After his last deployment, Smith moved to the area and resumed his college career. It started a new chapter in his life, one that he was ready to enjoy.

“College of DuPage has been a central part to one of my most successful, fulfilling and enjoyable periods in life,” he said. “When I first arrived, I started in Calculus I, with my last math class six years behind me. As anyone getting back into math will tell you, it’s not easy; math has a tendency to rust over time. Fortunately, I stumbled upon the Math Assistance Center early on. With all the help I’ve received from my professors and the staff in the Math Center, I’m now solidly on the road to becoming an engineer and I couldn’t be more grateful for all the help I’ve received.”

In 2013, Smith completed summer research on simulating the high strength fields of accelerator magnets at Fermilab and presented his results in Fermilab poster session. In 2014, he finished a second internship at Fermilab, where he continued to work on RF accelerating cavities. He has transferred to the University of Illinois to study electrical engineering and earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

It’s his years at College of DuPage that have helped him set these goals and move toward accomplishing them.

“I want to say thank you to all of the professors and staff in the Math Assistance Center. Cheryl Martin is running an amazing program there, and any student taking a math class who isn’t taking advantage of this is missing out on a huge opportunity,” he said. “I’ve been very successful in my math and physics classes but I couldn’t have done it alone.”

More about the Engineering program