Joe Spaniol seems an easy-going guy – but watch yourself in the machine shop.
“I consider it my own. I don’t like when I see people messing it up,” said Spaniol, who spent a summer internship helping renovate and organize the shop at Rutgers School of Engineering.
It was one of the hands-on and extra-curricular opportunities that made his experience at Rutgers University so fruitful, said Spaniol.
The Hillsborough resident recently was graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He will return to Rutgers in the fall for a master’s as part of the five-year combined B.S.-M.S. program in mechanical and aerospace engineering.
“In a large school people assume you’ll just be a number, but that doesn’t have to be the case,” he said. “The opportunities are there – you just have to go out and take them. For me there was opportunity after opportunity because of Rutgers.”
Spaniol joined Rutgers Formula Racing Club sophomore year, which led to a paid internship with the mechanical and aerospace engineering program. There he revamped the machine shop with department design specialist Paul Pickard, his mentor.
Spaniol was shop monitor the past two years and learned to design and fabricate parts. Pickard said Spaniol greatly helped students who used the shop, always vigilant they followed safe practices and used tools correctly. His contribution to the department was broad, said Pickard, spanning machine repair to information technology: “He is very versatile and willing to take on any task.”
Spaniol also got involved in the Mechanical Engineering Student Association, (MESA) serving as secretary and then vice-president of the group, which offered a way to hone leadership and presentation skills and network with peers, alumni and faculty, he said.
He credited the program’s faculty, especially director Assimina Pelegri, with engaging students and being open to feedback. Spaniol, for instance, has advocated for more hands-on experience in the labs and shops for underclassmen.
The 22-year-old is heading to Maryland this summer for a paid internship at Eaton Corporation, the international power management company, where he expects help test air systems for aerospace. He found the internship, and another at a packaging company in Trenton last summer, through postings on Rutgers Career Services websites.
Spaniol’s dad David is an electrical engineer and brother Mike (SAS’14) is a computer engineer. Joe is happy with the path he’s charted. “Mechanical engineering offers many choices, you can work in a lot of different areas,” Spaniol said. “I want to be an engineering leader eventually. It’s all so interesting.”