Meet Chris Cho, a robotics and mechatronics major, and joined Frith as an undergraduate lab assistant his sophomore year. After college, Chris will move to Georgia to do work related to electric vehicle battery production, and will be working as a production engineer.

How did you find out about the Frith First-Year Makerspace?

The Frith lab sent out a mass email looking for ULAs, post COVID. I thought it would be a good idea to jump back in because I took two gap years because of the military service. It was mandatory because I'm South Korean. So after freshman year, I had to go back to Korea, serve for two years and I was just coming back and I was worried that my skills were gone. I wanted to keep them sharp, so I thought it would be a good idea to show the incoming freshman what it's like to be an engineer – to show them how things work and how to problem solve.

What was it about Frith that kept you there so long?

The community, it’s such a unique experience. All of the ULAs are extremely close with each other. It doesn’t feel like a workplace. A lot of us, even when we’re not on shifts, we come in and do our personal projects, work on homework, and hang out with each other. That friendly community made me want to stick with it even longer.

Are there any memorable moments or lessons that you learned from the Frith lab that you can apply to everyday life?

Basic problem solving. Knowing how to use basic tools, you find more efficient ways to do things. I think that's the biggest thing, you look at incoming freshmen and they obviously aren’t as proficient yet. You kind of notice and think, was I like that too? You realize how much smarter you got, how much better you got at using those tools. 

Looking back at your time as a ULA, how do you think your role made an impact on first-year students?

I like working with the first-year students, I get to show them how to do things better. When I see the students I taught, before even I come in, doing stuff on their own, it’s a rewarding feeling. 

What will you miss most about being a ULA?

The first thing I’ll miss is the community and the friendship I’ve built. It’s a valuable thing. The second thing is being able to work on something I’m passionate about, like doing personal projects. I have a vast amount of resources at the lab. It was nice to build something from scrap, I’ll miss that for sure.

How are you going to use this experience to implement it into your future career?

Having the knowledge of equipment, dealing with people, teaching them and learning new stuff. I think that will help with adapting to new environments. If I go to a new workplace, and they have different gear and equipment, but it seems similar to what I’ve already used, it will be easier for me to learn it. 

Q&A written by Megan Reese, Writing Intern for Engineering Education