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Student's Lego love leads to electrical engineering, Johns Hopkins internship

Nathanael Macias, NMSU electrical engineering major, will not graduate with his bachelor's degree until May, but has already had two summers of experience interning at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

This photo is a head-and-shoulders photo of Nathanael Macias, NMSU electrical engineering major.
Nathanael Macias, NMSU electrical engineering major, won't graduate until May, but has twice interned with Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. (Submitted photo)

Macias is from El Paso and graduated from Chapin High School. After graduation he will return to work at Johns Hopkins under a GEM Fellowship.

The National GEM Consortium is a nonprofit corporation that promotes that participation of underrepresented groups in post-graduate science and engineering education by providing a national network of universities and employers.

GEM provides full tuition and fees, work experience and a stipend for its students. Funding is provided by employers; in Macias' case, the Applied Physics Laboratory.

"Interning with APL created many new opportunities and connections for me," said Macias. "Without APL I wouldn't have been a competitive fellowship or graduate applicant. Work experience is crucial for any applicant to stand out from the crowd."

One of his tasks during last summer's internship involved creating a low-noise power supply for a radio frequency communication module. Another was developing a GPS accuracy test utility.

"My projects at APL challenged me to quickly adapt to deadlines due to my project being part of a larger system scheduled for field testing," he said.

After earning his master's degree, Macias said he would like to pursue a doctorate in electrical engineering or continue his education at APL.

"I hope to one day lead innovation by developing intelligent machines," he said. "My experiences at APL, along with my studies, have provided me with a model for a future as an engineer and given me the confidence to pursue the dreams I formed as a child. With dedication and a great education I hope to one day call myself an innovator."

Macias became interested in electrical engineering after being introduced to Lego toys.

"My Lego development kit exposed me to the basics of electrical engineering," he said. "Instead of footballs and baseball gloves, my dad gave me rockets, airplanes and robots."