Competitive ice skater Tessa decided to attend WPI because of its “excellent mechanical engineering program,” she says, but quickly discovered the large range of exciting opportunities on campus. Not only is she a member of The Haydenettes skating team, she also makes time for projects with WPI’s Engineers Without Borders, plays as a member of the WPI stage band, and is involved with several other clubs and executive boards on campus.
Tessa's busy day starts at 5am with four hours of ice-skating practice. With her skating team, she has competed in the United States, Italy, and Croatia. Training time off the ice also includes ballet and fitness regimens. She enjoys the flexibility of in-person and online classes at WPI, which works with her busy schedule. Evenings are spent attending meetings of the various activities and clubs she is part of on campus.
She credits mechanical engineering professor Pradeep Radhakrishnan as a mentor and one who has supported her academic and non-academic activities. “He is someone I trust and deeply respect who encourages me to build upon my knowledge and complete academic assignments for the understanding and outcome rather than the grade. He is strongly supportive of my ice-skating career—he even attended one of my most recent exhibitions,” she says.
As a mechanical engineering major, Tessa enjoys seeing the impact of her project work, both in and out of the classroom. “In my engineering design course, I worked with a five-person team to build an autonomously driven radio control car. From designing the steering and chassis, to developing the software utilizing numerous sensors and microcontrollers, I got to develop skills in all the aspects of the project,” she says. “It was an impressive and fun project that I really enjoyed being a part of. It was a huge undertaking at the start of the term, but my team successfully built and raced our car at the end of the course. It was extremely fulfilling to watch the car run successfully and see how far I had come throughout the course.” As co-lead on an Engineers Without Borders project, she helped her team work remotely with a community in El Cisne, Ecuador, to “provide better quality and quantity of water to the community,” she says. “It is an amazing feeling to have seen this project culminate throughout nearly a year of hard work. We faced varying challenges that we worked to overcome.” This team plans to start a new project to further improve the water quality in that community.
Tessa’s favorite thing about WPI is the people. She says, “between the students and faculty, I found an amazing group of people who support me both academically and personally. I found friends through different clubs who I can study with or simply hang out with who genuinely care about and support me.” She also enjoys working with the faculty in the Mechanical Engineering Department as an office assistant. “They each encourage my academics and extracurriculars that make me enjoy going to work,” she says.
WPI’s project-based curriculum has made an impact on Tessa’s learning. “It has allowed me to make deeper connections with a wide variety of students on-campus,” she says. “I also love the outcomes that come from the project-based curriculum because I can step back at the end of the course and really see how much progress I have made. This curriculum has helped in developing valuable hands-on skills.”
For students considering WPI, “I highly recommend studying at WPI,” Tessa says. “What I really love about WPI is the well-rounded student experience. There are so many clubs and extracurriculars that you can get involved in. I feel that the experience and lessons taught at WPI (even outside the classroom) provide an all-encompassing student experience that graduates can take with them and utilize in any field and unique path after graduation.”
Tessa is still considering her options post-graduation. She says, “I am considering continuing to ice skate while working a full-time job. If I do, then I would stay local in Massachusetts. But if I decide to retire from my athletic career, then I am open to moving anywhere and starting the next chapter of my life. I would like to work in dynamic mechanical systems and mechatronics—more on the hardware side of things.”
Read More about Tessa
Tessa shares more about juggling competitive skating with challenging academics in the Summer 2022 issue of the WPI Journal.