CREATE Scholar Trace Larson

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

Trace Larson

With his engineering education, he hopes to improve the world by reducing the environmental impact of the energy industry.

CREATE Scholar Trace Larson

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

With his engineering education, he hopes to improve the world by reducing the environmental impact of the energy industry.

Trace Larson

With his engineering education, he hopes to improve the world by reducing the environmental impact of the energy industry.

Hometown: Battle Ground, Wash.
Mechanical Engineering major (class of 2023)

What got you interested in engineering?

My father was an engineer so I kinda got steered into it, but what really got me into it was a skills program I did in high school. It was a technical skills academy called Cascadia Tech, and I was enrolled in their pre-engineering program. The goal of the course was to give students an understanding of the engineering process from design to production.  It was also designed to simulate the working conditions of an engineering firm. At the beginning of the semester we were given a checklist of items to complete and allowed to work on them in any order at our own pace. These items would include specific parts we were to make on mills and lathes and more open items like 3d printing an object with a hinge or interlocking parts. We would also receive design challenges like creating a robot that could climb 4 feet up on a 6 in diameter pole. These challenges would require us to design and fabricate everything on our products.  The only prefabricated items we received were a motor and battery for power. These challenges were a lot of fun as you were able to use all the tools in the shop to bring your idea to life as a working prototype and then tinker with it to get it working. Through this program I got my associates certification in Solid Works and won the Skills USA High School championship for CNC mill coding in the state of Washington. This program allowed me to grasp the whole process of engineering and made me confident I wanted to do it professionally.

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

I think, like a lot of people in my generation, that the environment is a very important issue. I also think it is our duty as engineers to be responsible with our designs so that they have as little environmental impact as possible. I hope to use my career to put that design philosophy into modern engineering.

You did research with the City of Reno this summer. What was the research and what was the most important memory or insight that you got from the experience?

I did research for the city of Reno’s “Sustainability and Climate Action Plan.” My specific research pertained to priorities 3, 4 and 9 of the plan. I researched green roofing technologies, roofs that use vegetation as insulation, and put together a technical report for the city council and mayor to work off of. I presented information on what green roofs were and whether or not they would be a possibility for Reno. This report was the third in a series of four reports on different roofing technologies the city could employ.  The result of my research was that green roofs were feasible for Reno but not the most practical solution for Reno as they required intense irrigation systems for this climate.

What does the CREATE program mean to you?

To me, the CREATE program is an opportunity for my experiences to be used to improve the engineering program at UNR.  While the program provides me with a scholarship and a lot of opportunities for my career, the most lasting impact of it would be how the engineering program is changed based on my cohort’s input.

In what ways has your peer mentor helped you?

My peer mentor has helped me out mostly by just being available to us.  There hasn’t been any specific instances where I needed his help, but just having someone you know who you can go to is very comforting and helps reduce the stress of school.

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

The best advice I could give is to take opportunities even if they aren’t specifically applicable to your dream job.  Even though I want to go into industry, I took the opportunity to do research to expand my horizons. It allowed me to dip my toe into the field and see if it was something I would like to do professionally. In high school, I didn’t want to be a machinist, but I took the opportunity to compete in coding mills and ended up the state champion. Outside of engineering, I took a couple opportunities over the summer and ended up getting some of my writing published and starred in a short film. I wouldn’t say yes to everything, but I always keep myself open to new opportunities and experiences.

Latest From

Nevada Today

;