James Madison University

Tim Brooks

Engineering Major ‘12

Tim BrooksWhy did you choose JMU for Engineering?
For me, with a goal to someday become a project manager in an engineering company, it made sense to take a program that includes an emphasis on business and sustainability. JMU’s engineering curriculum is unique, allowing me to obtain an engineering background in most of the major engineering disciplines, as well as take engineering design classes focused on the four pillars of sustainability: environmental, social, financial, and technological. I believe the JMU degree will make me marketable in today’s economy.  Furthermore, when I first came to visit JMU, I met with the engineering faculty and was impressed by how enthusiastic they were about the new program.  I felt like I would be joining an innovative and exciting program that would address issues we will face in the future.

What type of engineering are you interested in?
Before I decided I wanted to be a project manager, I was interested in mechanical engineering because I liked to work with my hands and put things together. Then I realized that I am not as interested in a specific field of engineering as I am interested in the process of problem solving associated with engineering.  By majoring in sustainable engineering with a minor in business I hope to end up working to solve issues with both engineers and business executives.

Outside of engineering, what do you like to do?
I love UREC! I play a variety of sports: soccer, basketball, racquetball, volleyball, and everything else UREC has to offer.  I’ve played on 3 different intramural teams and usually visit UREC 3 times a week. Other than sports, I like to hang out with friends and try out some of the many restaurants in Harrisonburg. Also, I have been involved in campus groups; I was elected president of the Community Activities Board for Chesapeake dorm and organized a variety of dorm events, and I am co-chair of the JME Engineering Club.

What was your favorite thing you’ve done in the program so far?
One of my favorite projects was the Engineering Grand Challenge (EGC). EGC is a semester long project where you work with a team of 3 or 4 other engineering students to research a specific problem, such as energy from nuclear fusion. Working on the project taught me what steps are involved in identifying and solving a problem and ultimately confirmed that I want to be a project manager. Another project I liked last semester was the individual design project. Just like with the EGC project, you go through all the steps that engineers go through in solving a specific problem, in this case re-engineering a common item to make it better. It was also gratifying to finish the project with a re-designed, physical product that I could call my own.

Did you do any summer projects?
During the second semester of my freshman year I applied for a summer research position on the REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) website. I was hired to work on a materials science project associated with the JMU Geology Department. My research experience consisted of a 9-5 office job where I researched and gathered data about earthquakes, rock quarry blasts and a nuclear detonation in North Korea. With my advisor, I analyzed seismograms to try to associate a rate of attenuation (how much energy is absorbed by the earth) to different materials in the earth. I am designing a poster on the  results and we hope to present our findings at a geology conference in San Francisco.     

What’s one piece of advice you have for incoming freshman to this program?
Don’t wait! Don’t wait to start working on a project that is due in a month. Don’t wait for someone else to choose you to be in their project group, create your own group instead. Don’t wait to get involved in all the clubs and activities JMU offers. Don’t wait for something to be given to you, go get it.