Ariana Rennie Wants to Spread Awareness for All
Ariana Rennie is pursuing her bachelor’s in mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics. She is a recipient of merit-based NYIT scholarships and is in the Dean of Engineering Honors Program, which allows her to take graduate courses as an undergraduate. Rennie took a few minutes out of her busy schedule of classes, extracurricular activities, and research projects to answer some questions about her experience at NYIT and her reasons for pursuing engineering.
Tell us about why you chose to attend NYIT and why you chose the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences?
It has been my lifelong dream to attend college to pursue an engineering degree at the graduate level. My goal is to devise robotic applications that can help my brother who has a different learning ability to live a more fulfilling life.
However, in 2014, my inability to afford college threatened to derail my plans. As the sibling of a brother with a disability, money is very tight and I was not comfortable asking my parents to assist me with loans. Furthermore, since I planned to attend graduate school, I thought it prudent to reserve loans in case I needed them then.
I was determined that I would not allow any obstacle, including my financial predicament, to alter my plans. For months, I applied for scholarships and met with financial aid representatives to discuss financial aid packages while trying to consider creative ways to defray the cost of attendance to the colleges.
NYIT was the perfect fit. It boasted an accredited engineering department and provided academic scholarships and grants. Plus, it was in close proximity to my home, enabling me to live at home, save on expenses, and assist with my brother.
What organizations are you currently involved in at NYIT?
I am involved in many organizations including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Golden Key International Honour Society, and Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.
Outside of school, I interned with United Technologies Aerospace Systems in the product safety and reliability department, and Praxair Technology Center in the R&D healthcare department.
In October 2016, I founded an organization at NYIT called Awareness for All to bring understanding, empathy, and awareness for all ‘abilities.’ Our events, which we host on and off campus, are tailored to include everyone regardless of their different abilities. [April is Autism Awareness Month, and the club posted flyers around the Old Westbury campus reminding the community about the initiative. They encourage everyone to take a selfie with the flyer and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
We recognize that raising awareness and understanding for disabilities is an everyday activity, and therefore does not end with a World Day or Month for Awareness. Through our “Just Like You” sessions we call attention to the fact that an individual with learning differences is not simply defined by their disability. We also use various methods to help members of the NYIT community understand a particular disability by manipulating visual, auditory, and/or sensory perception in our Walk in the Footsteps events.
What projects have you participated in with NYIT Faculty?
As a research assistant to Associate Professor Jungho Park, Ph.D., I was a lead for a project that proposed an interactive musical robot that could improve the emotional and social interaction of autistic children. I designed an interactive session based on sensory issues that they encounter daily with the goal of developing more socially acceptable reactions with/without music.
When I assisted Assistant Professor Fang Li, Ph.D., I used 3-D printing software and tools to design and print a holder for the Quartz Crystal Microbalance [an instrument that measures mass and viscosity at or near surfaces or between thin films]. Furthermore, I was in the initial stages of using the software, MatLab, to model varying substrates and layers.
What advice would you give to a student who is thinking of applying?
Be sure that you do not underestimate yourself. If you have a passion for something, you should pursue it. If you are interested in a particular school, be sure to reach out to some of the professors and students to hear more about the program and activities.
What are your aspirations for post-NYIT?
I look forward to the next chapter of my life with tremendous excitement. In the fall of 2018 I will be attending graduate school. I then plan to pursue a career in mechanical engineering with a concentration in robotics or controls in order to achieve my ultimate goal of developing applications that assist the disabled.
As a graduate of NYIT, I feel fully prepared for this phase of my life. NYIT’s class sizes, faculty, and engineering organizations such as the NSBE enabled me to understand the engineering course load, stay on the Presidential List, emerge as a student leader and be recognized by prestigious organizations such as the Executive Leadership Council and Praxair for scholarship and internship opportunities, which further instilled my interest in the R&D sector.
What is one thing about you people might be surprised to find out?
I am not as quiet or shy as people perceive me to be but become more open once you get to know me.