Mechanical Engineering Student Dancing Toward a Greener Future
A Hands-On Approach
Dance and activism help Neil John work toward a career in sustainabilityNeil John (Mechanical Engineering 2nd Year)
Neil John has always loved breaking things to figure out how they work. Now as a mechanical engineering major, he’s getting better at rebuilding them, too. “I spent a decent chunk of time in the Kaplan Institute and the Idea Shop tinkering with things or building my projects. It’s definitely nice to have a workshop to get things done,” says Neil.
His interest in green energy got Neil involved with Illinois Tech’s branch of Citizens Climate Lobby, and he’s pursuing a career in sustainability. “I think it would be great if I could work as an energy consultant for the U.N. or a larger environmental agency to help the world get on a green path,” Neil says. His focus is on developing a long-term energy solution through cheap and efficient technology, whether that’s solar, wind, geothermal, or some other source.
In 2020 Neil was one of eight Chicago students awarded a ComEd scholarship covering all tuition after financial aid for the rest of his degree program. “The ComEd scholarship was this ray of hope for everything that I want to do,” says Neil, who will also have the opportunity to apply for an internship with the company through the scholarship. “Getting field experience is something that I’ve always strived to do first.”
Neil, who is also a professional dancer, says he brings a mindset learned in the studio to his engineering projects. “You’re always going to have to think of new ways to approach something. If it’s not working or you’re not hitting things at the right time, if you’re off,” he says, “it’s better not to try and force it; it’s better to just drop it and go for a different approach.”
The Delta Tau Delta fraternity at Illinois Tech has helped Neil find friends with shared interests, a helpful alumni network, and a strong support system. “It’s been a really nice community for me to grow, and I definitely would have had a much different college experience had I not joined.”