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GHS graduate spotlight: Jack Patten

Jack+Patten+%28center%29+is+studying+mechanical+engineering+at+Worcester+Polytechnic+Institute.
(Courtesy photo)
Jack Patten (center) is studying mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Meet Jack. Jack Patten graduated GHS in the class of 2022, where he knew 2 things for certain—one, that he was passionate about STEM, and two, that he loved sports. Jack was accepted into Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a private research university in Worcester, Massachusetts that specializes in STEM fields and project-based learning. Jack’s interest in robotics and engineering started in high school, in GEF-funded labs and programs that allowed him to explore and invent. His career as a high school varsity athlete has led him onto the WPI soccer fields, where he rounds out his talents in the STEM field with his talents on a sports team. Jack is going into his sophomore year ready to begin major-specific coursework and give it his all on the soccer field.

Q. What are you studying right now in college?

A. I’m majoring in mechanical engineering. I played varsity soccer for my freshman year of college, and I’m going to be going down to club next year. In terms of coursework, I’ve done Calculus, Differential Equations, Physics 1 and 2, Intro to Material Science, and a couple humanities courses mixed in, like history and writing. 

Q. So, you’re on this mechanical engineering track right now. Do you have any idea where that might lead you post-college? Ideally, if everything were to work out perfectly, where would you see yourself?

A. I’ve talked with a lot of people about defense companies, like Raytheon, working with manufacturing and testing products for the military. That seems interesting to me. I also have a big interest in computer engineering and design. I took a couple CAD (Computer Aided Design) classes in high school, and I’m taking a couple more in this upcoming year. Those are two of the big pathways I could see myself going down, if everything works out at WPI.

Q. While you were in Gloucester Public Schools, what were your main areas of interest?

A. My freshman year I took a biology class, and then shifted towards the engineering-specific classes my sophomore year. I started taking robotics with Kurt Lichtenwald (the GHS robotics teacher), and I took electrical engineering my junior year. My senior year I took physics and did an independent study in robotics. I’ve had the same field of interest from high school into college.

Q. Were there any extracurricular activities you enjoyed?

A. I was a big athlete, and that took up a lot of my time. I played 3 seasons of sports. I also worked on projects in my independent robotics study. One of my friends and I worked with Kurt Lichtenwald, we stayed after school and worked on different projects. We had this incubator box that we 3D-printed, and we put a bunch of devices in there that could calculate the temperature and humidity in the incubator, with an egg in it.

Q. You were largely interested in STEM at the high school. As a younger kid, were you interested in science?

A. It was a later interest for me, starting around my sophomore year. That’s when I really decided that I wanted to go to school for math and science. I found my strengths, especially in the robotics classes I took.

Q. What about the robotics courses made you want to pursue STEM initially? Were there any projects that were particularly formative for you?

A. We used VEX robotics, which meant we got a big box of parts and would build our own robot, and code our own robot to do different things in the C++ coding language. I thought it was very user-friendly compared to some of the other coding languages, so it was a good introduction for me. Being able to mess around with code on a computer was really interesting, and I really looked forward to going to that class. We had to code our robots, which each had an arm and a claw, and we did these projects where we had to have the robot follow a path, pick up a ball, place the ball on a platform, and repeat. In electrical engineering, we worked with breadboards and LEDs, on smaller-scale projects where we would code the lights to light up in different patterns.

Q. You mentioned you were an athlete in high school. What was that like for you? What went into the decision to play in college?

A. My freshman year I played varsity soccer, as well as basketball and track. My sophomore year I played varsity soccer and varsity basketball, but COVID prevented me from doing track. Junior year I was captain of the basketball and soccer teams, and then my senior year it was the same. I’m the type of person who wants to make connections right away, and I wasn’t recruited to play college-level soccer. But I wanted to put myself out there and try to develop social connections, so I could have a good group of friends. In college, it wasn’t necessarily just about the sport, but also about getting to know people and finding a comfortable place.

 

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About the Contributor
AURELIA HARRISON, Editor in Chief
Aurelia Harrison (they/them) is a senior and Editor in Chief for the Gillnetter. Their interests include writing, thinking about writing, music, and talking. They work at The Bookstore of Gloucester on the weekends, are a member of drama club, and love nature walks and famed Colombian pop star Shakira. They have been published in lit journals such as IAMB Magazine and The Empty Inkwell, and have received awards for their poetry and journalism. If you happen to engage Aurelia in conversation about philosophy, The Hunger Games, or Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” album, bring a sleeping mask. You have been warned. Email them at [email protected]  

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