Aerospace Engineering Major Helps Improve Community Relations

Elliot Rodriguez (‘25) looked to student clubs and organizations to help him adjust to life on campus and find a sense of community.

Rodriguez at the 2022 Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) national convention in Charlotte, NC. (Photo: Elliot Rodriguez)
Rodriguez at the 2022 Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) national convention in Charlotte, NC. (Photo: Elliot Rodriguez)

Embry-Riddle — The Obvious Choice

Aerospace Engineering major Elliot Rodriguez (‘25) wanted industry connections and a “front row seat to the launches,” so Embry-Riddle was the obvious choice for college.

While academics can be challenging, he appreciates how his professors bring aspects of industry into the classroom for a more enriching learning experience. He cites his thermodynamics class, which he said could have been a lot harder had his professor not brought in physical materials.

“Everything you see is something in an actual system,” he explained. “It’s easier for me to learn when it’s something real. I can see it. It’s tangible.”

Clubs Build Community

Another challenge Rodriguez faced was finding a sense of belonging when he first arrived on campus; but he found that campus clubs and organizations helped him find his footing.

“When I first got here, I felt separated from family,” he recalled. “Joining clubs on campus helped build that sense of community.”

Among those organizations he is a member of is the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Coalition whose purpose is to “support, advertise, promote and enrich diversity and minority clubs on campus.” He serves as the club’s public relations officer where his duties surround promoting events on campus that focus on racial minorities, the LGBTQ+ community and persons with disabilities.

Rodriguez is also a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) where, in addition to holding professional and social events as well as "homework hangouts,” they organize workshops to help prepare students for the interview process. He has seen SHPE’s membership numbers grow, going from gathering in classrooms to meeting in auditoriums, and credits the organization for helping him land an internship with Northrop Grumman at the organization’s national convention last November in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Joining clubs is probably the best thing you can do on campus,” he advised. “That’s how I got my internship. That’s how I met a lot of my friends. That’s how I network. That’s how I build myself up professionally.”

He understands the feeling of loneliness being in a new environment like a college campus but wants fellow and future students to know that there are “spaces for everyone.” He knows college can be tough but recommends surrounding oneself with people who want to help you and vice versa. Simply put, “Surround yourself with good people.”

Rodriguez's Future

In the short term, Rodriguez is taking things one semester at a time, getting through his classes and looking forward to his time as a systems engineer intern with Northrop Grumman this coming summer. The long term is not as clear, but he’s perfectly fine with that as long as he's a full-time aerospace engineer.

“I know systems engineering is a very broad term, but I’m trying to see what [a systems engineer is to] Northrop [Grumman] and if that’s something I want to do later.” Adding frankly, “I think that’s what I’m figuring out, to be honest."