Student Highlights: Matt Perkins

Photo of Matt Perkins

Matt Perkins with the Cornell Glee Club in Sage Chapel.

Major: Materials science and engineering
College: Engineering
Hometown: Guilford, Conn.

Why did you choose Cornell?
Cornell's campus is a fantastically gorgeous place that was really at the forefront of clean energy – especially in engineering, and the Engineering College is top-notch.

Main Cornell extracurricular activity – why is this important to you?
Singing tenor with and later leading (as president) the Glee Club, one of the top collegiate choirs in the country. Sharing fantastic music from around the world with 60 men (and with 60 women when we sing mixed repertoire) created a wonderful community for me. The capstone of my experience was managing the Glee Club in one of its most important years – it included our first performance to the American Choral Directors Association, the most successful fundraising in the organization's history, which helped fund our two-week performance tour across China.

What Cornell-related scholarships did you receive? Were any of these critical to your ability to come to Cornell?
The Udall Scholarship from the government's executive branch, which supports students committed to careers related to the environment.

While at Cornell, what other accomplishments/activities are you most proud of?
Serving as past president of Kyoto Now!, working on Cow Power (which studies converting dairy biogas to electricity with fuel cells), Cornell's biodiesel initiative and the Solar Decathlon (building a solar house for competition), and doing research on developing new catalysts and electrode materials for fuel cells were all formative experiences. I also interned at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, working on issues of community-managed green spaces, particularly as they apply to New Haven's urban development and at Chevron Energy Solutions, working on improving the energy efficiency of commercial buildings across California.
However, the two hardest things I did were learning how to balance my engineering classes with Mandarin Chinese classes and convincing General Electric, my internship employer, to send me to Beijing for a summer to work on sales and marketing for clean energy.

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
Performing at the American Choral Directors Association conference – during the last two songs – the first of which was a "last letter" written by a soldier who died in Iraq and the second, the very famous Biebl "Ave Maria" – people all over the room started weeping.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?
After attending the Windpower 2008 conference in Houston early June, I'm heading to Laos, Thailand and southwestern China for a month of travel. Then I will intern at China's leading wind power company in the northwestern corner of China. In the fall I start a two-year rotational program at GE Energy on the sales and marketing teams.