Student Spotlight

Michael Paradise

What is your educational background?

I am currently a Masters of Engineering in Aerospace Systems Engineering student here at UIUC. Before graduate school, I graduated in the spring of 2020 with a Bachelors of Science in Aerospace Engineering also at UIUC.

Did you consider other institutions for the program, and why did you choose Illinois?

In particular, I didn’t consider other institutions for my graduate school. For me, Illinois offered a program that best suited my career interests. Also, since I was a student-athlete in my undergraduate years and considering I am still training my sport with the aspirations of making national team, staying at Illinois offered me the opportunity to continue my training with my collegiate coaches and team. On top of that, I fell in love with UIUC during my undergraduate and no other school could compete in my eyes.

What made you decide to pursue Aerospace Systems Engineering?

Well, the aerospace part was easy. I’ve been in love with aircraft and spacecraft since I was little, especially space and all of the unknown about it. What steered me towards the systems engineering aspect was my time in senior design courses in the aerospace engineering program. Those two classes taught me the principles of systems engineering, and I found that that aspect of engineering I not only excelled at, but I also enjoyed doing. So, when I heard about the Aerospace systems engineering program, I realized I could obtain a degree in the field I’ve always loved while at the same time I could further learn about the engineering discipline I wanted to make my career out of.

What type of professional development you want to complete as part of the degree program (project, practicum, or coursework), and why?

I would say all three. Every opportunity I get to advance my knowledge and understanding of the field I desire to make my career out of is exciting for me. Each have their own aspects of professional development and participating in projects, practicums, and coursework all sum to give a great understanding of the professional life.

What type of aerospace-related projects are you involved in, if any?

Currently, the only aerospace-related projects I’m involved in are those pertaining to my coursework, namely the project in AE 542. Outside of the classroom, my project experience is limited, and this is due to my continual involvement and training with the Division I Men’s Gymnastics team here at UIUC.

What do you hope to do with the degree once you earn it?

The first thing I will do after I obtain my degree is take a deep breath, realize I’ve finished my educational journey and then of course, celebrate. In a more practical sense, I plan on starting my career as a Systems Engineer with Raytheon Missiles & Defense in the summer of 2021, a full-time position I recently accepted.


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