“The trick is to accomplish great things while balancing what you love and not working yourself to death,” said Evan Gentile (’18), a Management and Engineering for Manufacturing (MEM) major who balances school, work, and research while remaining involved in the UConn Community. “As a child I was infatuated with personalized flight, like the Iron Man suit,” and he preferred deconstructing his electronic toys as opposed to actually playing with them. Since then, Evan’s interest in technology has shaped him into the successful MEM student he is today. The MEM major is a part of both the School of Engineering and the School of Business, which allows for graduates to have flexibility between whether they want to be engineers or focus more on the business aspect. With this dual degree, Evan is hoping to gather enough engineering and business background to one day start his own company, and he is on the right track for doing so.
While at UConn Evan has made sure to keep his schedule busy with ample extra curricular activities revolving around his engineering and technological interests. Evan focuses on mentorships for younger MEM students as a TME Mentor for the MEM major experience, a First Year Experience (FYE) Mentor, and a floor mentor for the Innovation Learning Community. Anyone who has a question regarding MEM can reach him through any of these platforms for advice and guidance. As an FYE Mentor, he also held a position as a TA for the University Experience course, which helped him to network and gain membership in the Stanford University Fellows Program. This program focuses on networking with students who have a passion for entrepreneurship and innovation, connecting Evan with students internationally through the Stanford University Design School. Despite all of these accomplishments, Evan is most proud of his position as Vice President and Head Engineer of the UConn Electric Motor Sports Team, which is a club he helped start this fall. The goal of the club is to build a new, top-of-the-line electric race car, and Evan is in charge of building its subsystems. Ideally the car will be brought to a competition in Canada in June where it will race other cars from over thirty other university teams.
In addition to leading these clubs and organizations, Evan emphasizes that learning outside of the classroom is just as important as in the classroom, something he frequently relays to his students. For the past two years, Evan has focused on two different independent research studies. In the Material Science Department, Evan’s research focused on water desalination using a carbon based polymer that the department was making. The idea behind this is “to make it cheaper to pull salt and other pollutants out of the water to make it drinkable.” This way people around the world would have easier access to clean water, a green initiative that Evan is passionate about. More recently, Evan has been working on a research project on Artificial Intelligence (AI) under Management Information Systems (MIS) Director Jonathan Moore. For this project, Evan is working on loading an algorithm on a microcontroller that can recognize faces and determine whether or not someone has access to certain information. Luckily for Evan, microcontrollers and 3D printing are two of his specialties when he’s working for Professor Moore in the OPIM Innovate Initiative.
All of this experience with MEM helped Evan qualify for an internship and co-op program at a small company that builds treadmills without motors. As long as someone was using the treadmill, the track would spin as your legs move. Evan’s job at the company was to create a generator that made electricity while someone ran, and the electricity would power a screen to tell the user how fast he or she was running. This job helped Evan get a sense of what working at a company was like. “My vision for a lot of companies that I was excited to work at was similar to a Santa’s Workshop sort of thing; everyone would be enthusiastic, employees would be working nonstop, and there would be a bunch of energy there, and it’s more that companies are full of people just like me and you.”
If it wasn’t for Evan’s independent, self-guided desire for achievement and knowledge, he wouldn’t have taken advantage of the abundant amount of resources the University of Connecticut has to offer. “Persistence is dedication,” Evan said in regards to his successes. “Don’t be discouraged when doors get shut on you. You have to develop a certain attitude in order to succeed.” Evan is now beginning the job search for the next chapter of his life. He is hoping to find a small company close to home to get himself started and is looking forward to what MEM has in store for him next.