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Ask An Alum: Daniela Torres, BEST Class of 2016

MS Mechanical Engineering (Tufts/Draper Fellow): Expected Graduation Date 2018

Daniela Torres

What are you currently up to! (Where are you working, what’s your title, what grad program are you currently enrolled in? etc.)
I am in my second year of graduate school at Tufts, where I am pursuing a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with help from the Draper Fellows Program. My thesis is based off of a current project at Draper called Miniature Multiwire Systems, where I work on an insitu coax fabrication and attachment strategy. Our project goal is to provide a quick and effective packaging system for multichip modules and complex electronic systems.

How did the BEST program help and/or support you throughout undergrad?
At first, BEST helped relieve my family’s financial stress and allowed them to focus on raising my younger siblings. I am truly grateful for the generous support from Tufts and BEST because they have helped my family and me to focus on building a foundation for ourselves. Additionally, BEST has given me a family, mentors, workshop and networking opportunities, delicious food from Oasis, and amazing advisors (Travis, Kristin, Darryl, Courtney, and Campbell) who have only looked out for me since day one.

What is one skill or technique that you've taken from Tufts that you still use to this day?
Don't be afraid to ask for help. Many people at Tufts and even outside of Tufts want to help and see you succeed. You are not expected to learn everything, but instead are expected to work to your full potential, even if that means failing or making mistakes along the way.

What is one CSD/BEST event that you remember vividly?
Karaoke night was too funny. Like TOO funny.

What words of wisdom do you have for current and future BEST students?
Do what took me way too long to learn: network early! Get started on your LinkedIn profile or professional resume now, and ask the Career Center for help! Go to as many BEST events as you can and try to engage with BESTies that aren't in your cohort! Don’t study in your room--separate your living space and study space! Go to office hours, especially if there's a professor that you look up to! Try participating in research if you can, at least to see if you like it; it will help you decide if you would like to pursue graduate school! And finally, last but not least, try to get off campus at least once a month!

Describe BEST in one word.

What was one challenge in undergrad you remember specifically and how did you grow from it?
For some reason, sophomore year was a year of anxiety for me. Even outside of school work, I had a lot of trouble balancing my job and social life. I had issues with sleeping and eating, and although it took a while, I finally realized I couldn’t handle everything myself, so I went to others for support. Some advice that was given to me was to separate my study space and living space. The walk back home from a long night of studying made all the difference. I also got better at eating healthy, sleeping more, and going out for a walk or playing Frisbee. Take care of your body and your mind. Seek help if you need it. There’s a lot of people in and outside of BEST to talk to. A healthy body and healthy mind will go a long way!

What is life like really as a working professional/graduate student?
Graduate school sometimes feels like a rollercoaster ride. I find myself sometimes moving slowly when it comes to progressing at work, and then other times moving so quickly, it's hard to blink. Managing your time can be difficult, and that’s why my thoughts about graduate school change from time to time. Most of the time, I really do enjoy it since I like engineering, science, and working in a lab. It’s a great hands-on experience, especially when you fabricate something from start to finish. It almost feels like you created your own little research child. However, other times it can be frustrating to feel "alone" or to be the only person on campus working on your topic. I also sometimes wish that there was more structure within my day-to-day life, especially since many of my housemates have a strict 9-5 workday and then get to relax for the rest of the evening.

What's next for you! (Career wise or fun wise - any fun trips planned?)
I have recently decided not to move forward with a PhD right away. It has been an extremely difficult decision to make because my advisor at Tufts is the best. He’s taught me everything I know about Mechanical Engineering and research, which makes it difficult to take a break right now. Despite this, I know that I don’t want to stay at Tufts, because I think I will benefit from exploring other places and having new experiences. I’ve decided to pursue working full time for a few years, but with the intention of going back for a PhD in the future. Research opens many doors, and I will miss not having time devoted specifically to learning. I also know that I want to be an engineer for the rest of my life, and that the field sometimes requires you to have independent research skills. Ideally, I’d like to narrow down a research interest before applying to PhD programs and find schools that will let me pursue that interest.

I have no fun trips planned at the moment, but I know for sure that I will be attending Electric Forest again next summer. It is held in a beautiful location, filled with amazing decorations, people, and music. I’ve been dreaming about going there again ever since I went in June, so I know that I need to go back soon.