Student Highlights: Jason Bender

Photo of Jason Bender

Jason Bender in Upson Lab.

Major: Mechanical engineering, minor in applied mathematics
College: Engineering
Hometown: Yardley, Pa.

Why did you choose Cornell?
Cornell offered a comprehensive and competitive academic program, along with many opportunities outside the classroom. I was awed at the enormous range of Cornell students' interests and goals.

Main Cornell extracurricular activity – why is this important to you?
Conducting research in the Fluid Dynamics Research Laboratories, designing a feedback controller for the laboratory's water channel, with applications to study of fluid vortex dynamics and induced vibrations. The project has been an ideal way to reinforce my enthusiasm for fluid mechanics and to gain experience in a mechanical engineering research environment.

Your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
Participating in the Engineering Co-op and Cornell Abroad programs my junior year. In the fall and summer, I worked for the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. I joined the mechanical design team for the Mars Science Laboratory, a large rover due to land on Mars in the next few years. The JPL environment of teamwork and innovation was extraordinary for seeing engineering principles applied to practical challenges. It was also quite a thrill to design components that would travel to another planet.
I dramatically switched gears spring semester to study history, art and language in Rome, Italy. I reconnected with my Italian familial heritage, especially by improving my Italian language skills. The experience broadened my global perspective, and I enjoyed learning the nuances of life in a foreign country.

While at Cornell, what other accomplishments/activities are you most proud of?
Completing a minor in applied mathematics as a complement to my core degree. I studied various branches of advanced undergraduate math, deepening my knowledge of fundamental theoretical principles in engineering. While at Cornell, I was also named an Exemplary Student Ambassador for my work at NASA/JPL and an Engineering Global Fellow for my experience in Italy and was invited into the engineering honor society for strong academic performance.

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
Looking out from the top of a frozen waterfall, on a beginner ice-climbing trip in the Adirondacks. I was able to explore this and several other outdoor sports – from caving to rock climbing to kayaking – through Cornell Outdoor Education and the Cornell Outing Club.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?
I will be returning to JPL as an associate mechanical engineer in the Spacecraft Mechanical Engineering section.