Commencement spotlight: Nick Paternostro '21

Nick talks about balancing his studies with extracurricular activities to create a well-rounded academic experience.

Nick Paternostro
Nick graduates this month with his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. (Photographer: Karl Dominey)

Nick Paternostro, a mechanical engineering major at UMass Dartmouth's College of Engineering and an Honors College student, says supplementing his studies with other activities made his rigorous engineering program more manageable and enriched his time at UMassD. Here’s his story.

Recognizing the importance of balance

“I challenged myself to not only be an engineer, but to be a student who is a part of the campus community - whether it be having lacrosse practice, going to conferences/seminars for my own interest, attending classes, and participating in research. When I added a couple of hours of playing sports or attending events, I was able to step away from the schoolwork and focus my energy on something different. I would also say my group of friends in my major has definitely made earning my degree easier. It was helpful knowing someone else is going through the same thing with me.”

Pursuing leadership opportunities

“I’ve worked as a teaching assistant. I am also an undergraduate research assistant and recipient of a research grant offered by the Office of Undergraduate Research. By teaching students and learning from research, I reinforce what I already know, and I am able to understand theoretical concepts in a more practical way. Through conducting research, I have been able to apply the knowledge I gain through experiments to the classroom and to my senior design capstone. Currently, I am working on research with Dr. Hangjian Ling of the mechanical engineering department. I am evaluating the effect of hierarchical super-hydrophobic surfaces for friction reduction in a turbulent flow. Being able to apply my knowledge from the classroom into a physical setting has been a great experience. I have gained experience that sets me apart from other graduates and has given me the opportunity to land an internship at ULC Robotics this summer.”

Gaining practical experience

“During the summer of 2020, I worked at Curtiss Work, Target Rock. I collaborated with senior engineers on the first article builds of hydraulic and electronic actuators and offered insight for troubleshooting arising issues. This internship followed a course in which I learned how basic systems operate. Gaining exposure to basic assembly and testing procedures, part lists, codes and standards benefited me during the senior design capstone when this knowledge became valuable. I worked closely with a team at General Dynamics, Electric Boat. Together, we discovered how the actuators design and assembled at Curtiss Wright would be installed into submarines at the Electric Boat facility. Through collaboration, we were able to develop new procedures for implementing these actuators.”

Engaging in community service

“Through UMass Dartmouth, I became very involved in community service. I was the chair of philanthropy for my fraternity. I worked closely with the Children’s Miracle Network for the Polar Plunge and volunteered for the Autisms Speak Walk in Boston. Philanthropy is something I hold close to me as my dad has dedicated so much of his life to helping others less fortunate.”

Playing sports

“Being a member of the men’s lacrosse team, I learned that communication skills are very important. Also, by playing a sport, doing research as an honors student, and being in class I was exposed to many different environments. I would go from working in class with my peers, which required high organization and attentiveness to studying independently and effectively during research hours and then attending practice where communication and teamwork became the most essential skills.”



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