Get to know our Engineering Ambassadors! They are a diverse group of passionate engineering students who collaborate to serve and promote the Department of Engineering. They foster intellectual curiosity on the JMU campus and beyond by engaging individuals of all ages in high-impact, hands-on experiences. They inspire the next generation of engineers to grow and learn by challenging themselves personally, academically, and professionally. 

Raylen Jones
Raylen Jones ('23)

Raylen became an EA because she wanted to get involved in outreach - to connect with young girls and young black students who may not see themselves in the field and teach them about engineering. She also enjoys connecting with prospective students and hearing their stories about their interest in engineering - hoping to convince them to attend JMU. Raylen chose JMU Engineering because of the project-based, hands-on curriculum. In addition, she was unsure what kind of engineer she wanted to be. JMU Engineering allowed her to explore each area and choose the field she wanted.

In addition to the Ambassador Program, Raylen is a CISE Mentor, a Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) Leader for General Chemistry II, SMLC Tutor for General Chemistry, a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), a member of Women of Color (WOC), and a member of Black Student Alliance (BSA). Outside of class, Raylen enjoys hanging out with friends and watching movies.

How is JMU Engineering preparing you for your future? "JMU Engineering is teaching me a variety of technical skills as well as the crucial skills of working with a team and real-world clients. We communicate and empathize with clients throughout the design process and help solve their problems. Getting real engineering experience is probably one of the biggest takeaways!"

Advice for prospective students: "Whether it is an engineering or non-engineering clubs, get involved! Engineering will become easier if you join engineering clubs and make friends in the major. It will also help to have things to do that are non-engineering-related to clear your mind."

Jack Zhao
Tingzhe Jack Zhao ('24)

Tingzhe became an EA because he enjoys meeting and helping people. "I want to share my experiences and journey as a JMU engineering student. I want to help people create their path." Jack is an international student from Beijing, China. He left home at age 15, studied in Australia for a year, and has been in the U.S. for six years. Jack is creating his engineering path in the biomedical field. He likes to spend his free time doing photography and 3D printing. He also belongs to Madison Motorsports. Jack chose JMU Engineering because of the exposure to many different kinds of engineering and a hands-on, real-world project-based experience, "which is what I fell in love with." 

How is JMU Engineering preparing you for your future? "I am exposed to many different types of engineering, finding out what I enjoy, and gaining real-world experience that focuses on the process of engineering. This will benefit me no matter which engineering branch I go into."

Advice for prospective students: "Do not wait for opportunities to find you; reach out to build your network and find opportunities."

Colby Schneider
Josiah Walker ('25)

Josiah became an EA to help others find excitement and inspiration in engineering while also connecting with other engineering students. In his free time, he enjoys Magic: The Gathering, mentoring my FIRST Robotics Team, and spending time with God. In addition, he is a part of CRU and the Madison Aerospace club. Josiah chose JMU Engineering for its hands-on, interdisciplinary approach. "I found my passion for engineering through my FIRST Robotics Team, and I wanted to continue to have hands-on experiences integrated into my curriculum. In addition, the interdisciplinary aspect will help me to approach today's evermore complex problems."

How is JMU Engineering preparing you for your future? "I am gaining vital teamwork and leadership experience through project learning while also learning the fundamental hard skills needed for engineering."

Advice do you have for prospective students: "Make sure to prioritize completing your assignments on time and look ahead. Don't overcommit but find a community on campus."

Kali Findlow
Kali Findlow (’25)

Kali became an EA because she is very passionate about JMU Engineering and wants to share it with prospective students and show them how truly special our department is. Kali is also part of the JMU All-Girl Cheerleading team, the CISE mentorship program, and the Engineering Student Council. In her free time, Kali enjoys the beach, reading, and hanging out with friends.

She chose JMU Engineering because she loves the "create your own pathway" aspect of the major. "I feel I can write my own story and study the areas I am interested in, all while connecting with fellow engineering majors, professors, and alumni. In addition, there are many resources to help us be successful."

How is JMU Engineering preparing you for your future? "There are engineering clubs, activities, internships, and more. Resources are available that benefit us in our current and future endeavors. Professors encourage us to succeed and think outside of the box, which helps us with transitioning into the workplace."

Advice for prospective students: "Do not be afraid to ask questions. A lot of information goes into making a decision for your future! Pursue your passions and never give up on your goals. You will never know what you're capable of unless you step outside your comfort zone and try it!"

Ethan Sheehy
Ethan Sheehy ('25)

The EA Program was recommended to Ethan by upper-class students. He was eager to give back to the program and get new students more involved. He chose JMU Engineering because of his interest in STEM and stuck with it because of the supportive community. "I have access to opportunities that have helped me get further in the field and grow my passion for Engineering." Ethan is also involved with Madison Welders, Cross Country and Track. In addition, he enjoys working out, cooking, shopping, and exploring the outdoors.

How is JMU Engineering preparing you for your future? "JMU Engineering has helped me to get over my fear of public speaking. In addition, I have enhanced my leadership skills, communication with team projects, and overall confidence in my work."

Advice for prospective students: "Get out of your comfort zone and look for as many opportunities as possible. College is what you make of it; get the most out of your experience by trying new things. Don't be afraid to ask for help or talk to other students."

Ryan Gildersleeve-Price
Rylan Gildersleeve-Price ('24)

Ryan enjoys inspiring others to do more. Through EA outreach, he can share his passions with others. He is involved in JMU's Cycling Club and enjoys traveling, mountain biking, and camping. Ryan chose JMU Engineering because of the creative freedom. He enjoys working with a "team of engineers."

How is JMU Engineering preparing you for your future? "Through hands-on student-run projects, we learn leadership skills and express creative freedom. During our first year, we develop these skills and dive deeper into engineering."

Advice for prospective students: "Don't be afraid to ask for help. Everyone goes through similar circumstances to get where they are now."

John Fader
John Andrew Fader ('24)

John chose to become an EA to become more involved in the program and outreach to middle school students. He belongs to Madison Welders, is a First-Year Orientation Guide (FROG), and a Student-Athlete Tutor for physics & mathematics. Outside of engineering, he enjoys running, hiking in nature, yoga, skiing, and watercolor painting. John chose JMU Engineering because of the design-based curriculum, the two-year capstone, and the opportunity to do hands-on learning. In addition, he was excited about the small class sizes, the engineering community, and the chance to explore and learn about multiple engineering disciplines.

How is JMU Engineering preparing you for your future? "I think immediately to the interdisciplinary project base curriculum. The sophomore-year buoy project in collaboration with engineers at Northrop Grumman is a perfect example. We worked with Northrop Grumman on researching, designing, building, testing, and delivering a functional Smart Buoy. I gained experience in working with industry professionals. I gave product pitches, technical updates, presentations, managed a team as a section leader, and gained knowledge in the fabrication, construction, and testing of a buoy prototype. I learned copious skills that I will be able to apply in future engineering and career opportunities. There are many engineering projects that promote experiential learning within the program. These experiences have prepared me to handle various projects and challenges in the future."

Advice for prospective students: "Let your curiosity lead you. Follow what you find interesting, intriguing, and exciting. You are bound to find something that is exactly your niche and the perfect fit!"

Juliana Cruz
Juliana Cruz (’23)

Juiana was always fascinated by architecture, math, and science. She chose JMU Engineering because she wanted to pursue a where she could help others. Juliana is an EA and belongs to the Latinx Students Alliance, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineering, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Engineering Leadership program. Her hobbies include sewing, crocheting, painting, hanging out with friends, cooking, and watching shows.

How is JMU Engineering preparing you for your future? JMU Engineering classes are preparing her for the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam. Creating a portfolio is helping to build her identity as an engineer for an internship and future career. Being an EA and involved in student organizations has helped her build leadership skills.

Advice for prospective students: "Reach out and get connected with others. Create a support system with students in and outside your major who understand your struggles and can provide a refreshing new perspective. I have found a supportive group of friends who are always there to help me, and I am there for them. Engineering will get intense, but we are all here for a reason and can make it through together. That’s why having that support system with those who motivate you to succeed and excel is so important."

Scottie Hull
Scottie Hull ('24)

Scottie is an EA, in the fitness club and part of the Honors College. She chose JMU because she felt that the engineering program fit her needs the best. She wants to make a difference and help people solve problems.

How is JMU Engineering preparing you for your future? The JMU Engineering challenges her to step out of her comfort zone and also pushes her to be the best version of herself.

Advice for prospective students: "Choose JMU Engineering if you want to be challenged, and also gain lots of knowledge. You won’t be lost in the crowd while being apart of JMU Engineering, your professors will know your name and they truly care about helping every student be as successful as possible."

Sonja Robinson
Sonja Robinson (’24)

Before college, Sonja had not been exposed to Engineering as a possible career. She became an EA to be a JMU engineering advocate for prospective students. She belongs to the Society of Woman Engineers and enjoys shopping, art, and hanging out with friends in her spare time. Sonja chose JMU Engineering because of the flexibility of the program. "I came into engineering without a strong desire to pursue a certain path. I felt a general program would help me figure out what I wanted to do."

How is JMU Engineering preparing you for your future? "JMU Engineering teaches me time management, how to present projects effectively, and how to lead and work in a team environment.

Advice for prospective students: "Engineering may seem like an intense subject, but if you balance your work and get help from your professors, it is manageable and enjoyable. Communicating with your professors is key - they want to help you. Lastly, Have fun and make friends. Part of the reason I love JMU Engineering so much is because of the friends I have made within the program."

Matrix Chen
Matrix Chen ('24)

Matrix is an EA because he wants to give back to his local community through the Engineering Outreach program. As a result, he can give kids an opportunity "he never knew he had and help them achieve more than he ever could" while growing up in Harrisonburg.

How is JMU Engineering preparing you for your future? "The community is making me a better engineer and a better person. It's allowing me to learn and explore the engineering field."

Advice for prospective students: "Explore as many opportunities as possible, figure out what you enjoy the most, and be the best at it. Work hard and surpass your limits. Don't procrastinate, do your work early – it will save you time and stress, and make sure you eat and sleep."

Jasmine White
Jasmine White ('26)

Jasmine became an ambassador because she wants to be a leader within the JMU community. She wants to inspire her peers and prospective students and engage with others. She is involved in NSBE, BSA, SWE, Haynes Scholars, and CISE Mentor Collective. In her free time, Jasmine enjoys cooking, traveling, fitness, and trying new things. She has always loved engineering, and at JMU, she gets to work with students and professors that share that love.

How is JMU Engineering preparing you for your future? "It's preparing me to work with teams on projects as I would in an engineering career."

Advice for prospective students: "Don't stress about college too much. The process may be hard, but you will succeed. You must also learn to enjoy the process."

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