CREATE Scholar Thomas Kaps

A Q & A with one of the scholars from the NSF-funded "Creating Retention and Engagement for Academically Talented Engineers" program. Thomas Kaps is a member of the first cohort of CREATE program scholars.

CREATE scholar Thomas Kaps

Thomas Kaps hopes to work for Panasonic in the area of energy storage technologies or work with hydroelectric dams to provide a renewable source of energy.

CREATE Scholar Thomas Kaps

A Q & A with one of the scholars from the NSF-funded "Creating Retention and Engagement for Academically Talented Engineers" program. Thomas Kaps is a member of the first cohort of CREATE program scholars.

Thomas Kaps hopes to work for Panasonic in the area of energy storage technologies or work with hydroelectric dams to provide a renewable source of energy.

CREATE scholar Thomas Kaps

Thomas Kaps hopes to work for Panasonic in the area of energy storage technologies or work with hydroelectric dams to provide a renewable source of energy.

Hometown: Jackson, Calif.

Chemical Engineering major (class of 2023)

What got you interested in engineering?

What initially got me interested in engineering was the problem solving aspect. I've always had a natural affinity for math and science, but I did not want to become just another number cruncher. I wanted to find a creative and practical way to apply numbers and equations to life-changing products and technologies. Chemical engineering specifically offered the possibility of a career innovating technology that is changing the world in fields as diverse as transportation, food production and preservation, and renewable energies.

What impact do you hope to have through your engineering career?

I hope to change the way we generate and store energy. Currently, one of the main problems with renewable energy is that the extra energy generated cannot be stored in an efficient, compact, and affordable manner. If we can create a practical method of storing energy, we'll be able to transition further towards a society powered entirely by renewable energy.

What does the CREATE program mean to you?

The CREATE program has provided me with a web of resources and connections that helps keep me focused and engaged in my learning and development. CREATE has given me instant access to friends and peer mentors who can point me in the right direction, experienced schedule planners who have helped me find the best path aligning my career goals with my academic pursuits, and many professors and department heads who have connected me to the best resources within the UNR community and the professional engineering community. Together they have all encouraged and motivated me to make connection points at career fairs, clubs, and professional lectures that I might have otherwise not connected with or neglected.

In what ways has your peer mentor helped you?

My peer mentors have offered me valuable advice and insight into campus life and the professional world. Since they are slightly ahead of me in the academic and career process, I can see how they have advanced and had an easier time connecting with their practical advice. Steffany Yang offered excellent insight into the process and preparation of my resume in anticipation of applying for internships and, more importantly, helped me understand the value of diverse work experience. By applying and taking internships that might not apply to my major or goals directly, the internships could push me in the direction of new and more satisfying goals for my professional career as an engineer.

What advice would you give someone looking to follow in your footsteps?

I would tell anyone trying to follow in my footsteps in the CREATE program to take full advantage and engage with the professors, staff, peer mentors, and professional contacts. I would advise them not to treat the connected activities and requirements as just boxes that need to be checked off on a list, but as valuable opportunities that lead to valuable experiences. They form the CREATE experience and are the basis of a program that is constructed to give you an advantage and prepare you for the professional world.

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