Undergraduate Spotlight: Michael Valcarcel

Posted: February 23, 2023
Michael Valcarcel

Where is your hometown?

I was born and raised in Mason, Ohio slightly north of Cincinnati, Ohio.

What is your area of study and what made you pursue it?

I am currently a third year studying mechanical engineering along with earning a business minor through the Integrated Business and Engineering honors program.

What brought you to Ohio State?

The Integrated Business and Engineering honors program was a big reason I chose Ohio State. It allowed me to distinguish myself from the multitude of engineers by being a strong communicant of the underlying economic and social values of my designs. I have also been a huge fan of Ohio State football from a young age making it an even easier decision. Lastly, I saw the endless opportunities my older brother had through the many involvements, research, and academics provided by Ohio State.

What do you like most about the major and opportunities OSU allows?

I have enjoyed many of my ME courses so far. The professors are great and always make me feel comfortable to see them at office hours when I have questions. The Mechanical and Aerospace engineering department offers a variety of student design competition teams to join when you get on campus. This provides students with a hands-on application to their studies along with learning how to work in a team. Lastly, there are many research groups that undergraduate students can get involved with. Currently, I am working with the Aerodynamic Flow Control and Advanced Diagnostics (AFCAD) research group at the Aerospace Research Center (ARC) under Dr. Matthew McCrink.

What is the best class you have taken so far and why?

The best course I have taken is ME2900 – Introduction to Design in Mechanical Engineering. This course allowed me to explore mechanical engineering through a structured design, hands on build, and test sequence. The course is split into two 7-week courses. The first 7 weeks I learned how to program an Arduino allowing me to create an accessible pill dispenser for users with arthritis who struggle to sort medicine. The last 7 weeks I learned all about the proper way to machine. I was able to learn how to mill, lathe, CNC, and more to ultimately create my own piston engine block.

What advice would you give high school students considering pursuing engineering as a major?

Engineering is a solid major to take in college. I would suggest taking a few AP courses specifically Physics and Calculus if you have the opportunity at your high school. These courses set the expectation for the difficulty of engineering courses and provided me a smoother transition into college. When you get to campus, explore as many student organizations as you can and ultimately find a few that you are passionate about.

What is an important decision you made during your time at MAE?

When I stepped onto campus, I was eager to find a student design team focusing on building and designing drone technology. This interest came from my passion for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) which is the future of sustainable air transportation through autonomous drones transporting people and packages to a multitude of destinations. During my first year, I was committed to looking for a project team that focused on designing and building drones, but I soon found out there was none at the time. Instead of losing hope, I committed to connecting with faculty and the MAE department to start the club Buckeye Vertical (Ohio State’s Drone Design Team) which currently has 25 active students. As the Co-Founder and current President of the club, I am proud to see the many accomplishments this club has had so far including taking first place at the 2021-2022 Vertical Flight Society’s Design Build Vertical Flight Competition.

What was your favorite activity to do as a kid?

Ever since I was a kid, I enjoyed playing soccer. I continued playing soccer all the way through my senior year of high school.