As an avid recycling guru and a mechanical engineering student, Robert Bondi still finds time to get involved through KU and volunteers his time willingly. Currently finishing up his last semester at KU, Robert is excited for the future and will definitely be leaving some big shoes to fill. He’s witty, charming, and of course taken! He’s a Leo, loves his cats Lenore and Frankie and loves to listens to Tool, Radiohead, and Against Me in his free time. It is surprising though how he has free time with all that he does in the Engineering community.
Robert is part of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Human Powered Vehicle Challenge (HPVC), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), UnPlug KU, EcoHawks and Pi Tau Sigma, a National Mechanical Engineering Honors Society. He is Vice President of the ASME and team captain of the HPVC. He is also a Undergraduate Research Assistant at Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) at University of Kansas during his studies at KU.
For UnPlug KU, Robert, along with many other students, cover campus on Friday evenings to turn off all lights that are not being used to save power during the weekend when they would have otherwise been on. This student volunteer group is centered around sustainability through energy conservation on campus. They achieve this goal through student volunteering, energy education, and renewable energy.
KU’s EcoHawks is focused on sustainable engineering solutions for various problems involving energy infrastructure and automotive technology. The project he is working on involves designing and building a battery pack management system for an electric bicycle application. It involves a lot of electrical engineering and control systems, topics of which he is very interested in pursuing in a future master’s degree.
As Vice President of ASME, Robert decided to lead HPVC, a volunteer student design competition regarding human-powered conveyance typically available in underdeveloped or remote regions, with the intention of designing a viable, sustainable, and dependable form of daily transportation. This year’s design concepts revolve around an economic, consistent, and sustainable vehicle. Overall, the vehicle will cost under $1,000 to produce; its steel fabrication has aided in its operational consistency, and the majority of the components have been built using reclaimed steel.
When asked to describe himself Robert says that, “I am a lifetime learner who is passionate and dedicated to solving the major issues we see in our industrialized world, mainly those of energy inefficiency, waste energy, and pollution. I believe in working hard and doing what is morally ethical, though I do remind myself not to take everything too seriously.”
Robert’s role models include Bill Nye, Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Laura Jane Grace, and his grandmother.
When asked about his experience at KU he responds that “the rigors of school have illuminated to me that I am capable of achieving many great goals simultaneously; that when properly focused, hard work can accomplish almost anything. I’ve also learned that no one is going to hand you anything, you have to earn what you truly desire, and that it takes effort and determination to keep on track of those desires. At KU, I was given the chance to really challenge and test myself, and from that I’ve grown immensely and have gained a well rounded perspective on life.”
There’s a lot you can learn from a guy like Robert. He’s down to earth and goofy but knows how to focus on his goals and stay genuine and passionate in all of his endeavors. He’s currently on the job hunt for post grad engineering positions and within the next five years he wants to go back to engineering school to earn a graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Mechatronics. He would also love to travel to southeast Asia and go backpacking through the region in the future.
Advice from Robert to fellow undergraduates: “Do what you are passionate about. This is really hard to actually do, but it is worth your time and consideration. Think about what you enjoy, what really motivates you, and find an academic study, and extracurricular group or project to get involved with that reflects that topic. Pursuing a course of action that you find mildly interesting, or is something that others think you should do is a waste of your time. If you’re doing something you are passionate about, you’ll have the motivation, the drive, and the guts to do exceedingly well. You can’t fake passion. As my grandmother used to say, “Do what you love, and the rest will be taken care of.”
Photo Credits: Robert Bondi