A high school two-time New Jersey state champion wrestler, All-American, and academic high achiever, Ryan's acceptance to Cornell was not surprising. But his decision to leave the university early to join the U.S. Marine Corps, perhaps.
Ryan said joining the Marines was something he did out of a strong desire to serve the country's efforts at the time. And it didn't take long for his choice to earn the pride and respect of his family. He committed wholeheartedly to the stressful demands of his life as a Marine, rising to squad leader in his deployment to one of the most volatile areas in the War in Iraq.
Transitioning back to life in the U.S. wasn't easy, but getting back to undergraduate studies and wrestling was something Ryan gladly pursued. Ryan said it would have been much harder without the help of the Stevens Veterans Office and the Yellow Ribbon Program, an enhancement to the GI Bill that provides tuition assistance to qualified veterans.
Drawn to its location, size and offerings, Ryan continued to excel at Stevens. In the two seasons he competed as a wrestler, he earned a 32-7 career record. He qualified twice for the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships and All-America status both years he went to the tournament. Ryan finished fifth and seventh, respectively, in his two seasons. He was also selected as an Academic All-America and was a President's List Scholar.
A Business & Technology major, Ryan said one of the highlights of his career here was being able to apply what he learned in the classroom to real-life situations, and pointed to one project in particular. Ryan was one of four students who helped the Kortney Rose Foundation (KRF), a nonprofit organization that raises awareness of pediatric brain cancer and supports disease research and prevention efforts, improve its operational functions and ensure that its series of annual fundraisers are effective.
Ryan redesigned the KRF’s business systems and helped the KRF on the financial end with the creation of reports and strategic planning. Like many Stevens students, Ryan was eager to make a real difference, in this case fighting a devastating disease. “Brain tumors affect a lot of children,” he said. “I believe the Kortney Rose Foundation is a great program and can really help.”
His road to Stevens may be considered a path less traveled. But it is one that certainly matched his commitment to education and impacting the world. Set to graduate from Stevens this month and begin graduate studies here in the Business Intelligence and Analytics program, Ryan continues to face a bright future, ready for the challenges that lie ahead, he said. There is no doubt Ryan will fully seize the opportunity.
Natalie Schloeder began her college career at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) as an aerospace engineering major but soon felt it wasn't a good fit, mainly because she longed to study in a location that offered a more diverse setting.
Natalie had been accepted to Stevens but had chosen to attend RPI because Stevens didn't offer an aerospace engineering degree. Everything else about Stevens was a great match, she said.
She transferred to Stevens' mechanical engineering program after her first semester at RPI, and quickly embraced the University's rich offerings. In her time at Stevens, she was a member of Stevens' concert band (alto sax) and served as Editor in Chief of The Stute (Stevens' student newspaper), captain of the women's tennis team and student athlete for the team for four years, and, with the encouragement of a classmate, a character in the Stevens production of Assassins.
She also took advantage of Stevens' proximity to top companies and employers, taking on an internship at Turner Construction Company, which is headquartered in New York City. She worked as a pre-construction intern for the concept and design of the Brooklyn Nets Arena.
What's more, Natalie didn't have to abandon aerospace engineering, a passion that ignited many years earlier in middle school. "Aerospace engineering is a concentration of mechanical engineering," she said. "And what I learned and experienced as a mechanical engineering student at Stevens propelled me right along the path I'd aimed for." Natalie is currently a graduate/doctoral student of aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech, leading research and problem-solving in the University's High Power Electric Propulsion Lab, specifically in designing ion engine thrusters for deep space missions.
The work she does in the lab requires being able to deliver viable solutions for contracted clients, which includes studying the problem and specifications, creating a design, and delivering it. "Essentially, I'm not just creating a solution, but the best answer to the problem, which works for the client and continues to attract funding for our work," she said.
Natalie gives kudos to Stevens for providing a wide breadth of extracurricular activities that enhance students' experiences and are also opportunities to learn how to multi-task. Maintaining good grades at a competitive school while enjoying activities outside the classroom requires creating a process to manage time well, and this was a key to her success, she said.
She also points to Stevens' Design Spine, a unique series of eight core design courses followed by a capstone, two-semester senior design project, as a significant advantage to students. "This design concentration throughout all my years at Stevens was extremely valuable," Natalie said. "The opportunity to create goals and timelines, think critically, solve open-ended questions, work collaboratively...it's all real-life training." She recently encountered a challenge in one of her projects and fell back on what she'd learned at Stevens to work through it, she added.
With her sights on innovating deep space exploration and on solid course to get there, Natalie has the universe at her feet. In this case, that's not just a metaphor.
Dominic Catalano began his college career at Binghamton University and then Tompkins Courtland Community College, where he earned an associates degree in engineering science before entering Stevens as a transfer student to pursue mechanical engineering.
Dominic customized his Stevens education with concentrations in automotive engineering as well as product design and manufacturing. For a number of reasons, it's no surprise that he's a member of the senior design team that took on the challenge of designing a Formula-style race car.
The Formula SAE design competition is organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers, simulating what happens when a manufacturing company contracts design teams to develop a race car. Students prototype race cars that are judged on their potential for production for non-professional autocross racers. The teams must design, build, and test their prototypes under a certain criteria and rule-set that ensures on-track safety and promotes unique problem solving.
As part of the Formula SAE team at Stevens, Dominic was able to experience real-life work in an automotive engineering business environment, including research, design, manufacturing, testing, developing, marketing, management, and even fund raising. Cultivating alumni donations and business sponsorships is all part of the process, Dominic said. Click Here to see last year's Formula SAE car.
With several years of track and field experience both at Binghamton and Tompkins Courtland, Dominic fully embraces the competitive spirit on another level. He helped advance the Stevens track and field team as a student athlete for the last year remaining in his NCAA eligibility. And he competed in his first Iron Man at Lake Placid, New York, last year, finishing the race in just over 13 hours. Biking and running track and field for Stevens helped him train for the event, a regiment well worth juggling with a full schedule of studies and other activities, he added. "You just find time for what you're passionate about," Dominic said. "Even to the point of losing a little sleep."
His advice to incoming students? "Stay organized. And schedule time for involvement in multiple groups." Dominic said. "But be careful not to spread yourself too thin. Choose a passion or two and then organize your time around that. This is hard when there's a lot to pursue and you have this feeling that if you're not involved, you might lose out on something. But it's important to find a balance, and over time, you do."
Moving on after graduation to graduate studies in mechanical engineering here at Stevens, Dominic is revving up for further research in combustion engines and designing efficiency for automotive applications. He looks forward to what the future holds at Stevens, but in the meantime, he's off to Nebraska with the Formula SAE team to race.
What might you experience at Stevens? The deadline for applying to Stevens as a transfer student is July 1. Click Here for more details.