Making a Difference at Michigan Tech: One LEAP at a Time
Harley Russell grew up in Adrian, Michigan, a small city about 45 minutes south of Ann Arbor, near the Ohio border. At Michigan Tech she’s now in her second year, working toward her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, with a concentration in biomedical applications and a minor in Spanish. Harley also works with first-year engineering students as a LEAP Leader in the Department of Engineering Fundamentals.
What kinds of work do you do as a LEAP Leader?
I essentially facilitate and assist the Engineering Fundamentals courses offered here at Tech for first-year engineering students. They are getting exposed to coding and circuitry using MATLAB and Arduino. I work with their team to build a wide range of mini projects, so I get to help teach them and come up with fun ways to advance their skills!
What do you enjoy most about it?
It is so amazing to see the different ways students adapt to and overcome challenges. I love getting to see how creative and original the solutions are that each individual comes up with.
“It’s always great to see the “lightbulb” moment when people finally understand what they are learning.”
What are the most challenging aspects?
It takes some doing to keep everyone on the same page and engaged. Some kids come to college with a large background in coding or other areas and have a ton of knowledge and experience, whereas some people have never had the opportunity to explore those skills. I make sure that everyone is learning and following along—without the work being too difficult or too easy.
Any recipes, formulas, or tips for success?
Take time for yourself! So many students fall into this hole of solely going to classes then back to their dorm to study and do homework all night then go to bed and repeat the process all over again. It is SO IMPORTANT to take the time to have fun and care for your mental health as much as you care about your grades.
How did you find out about the opportunity?
During the Spring semester last year I talked with my LEAP Leader. She encouraged me to apply, so I did, and the rest is history!
What are your career goals?
I would definitely like to do something within the medical field and electronics. It would be cool to work with robotic prosthetics that respond to neurological electrical impulses and muscle contractions and things like that in order to create moving limbs.
What made you decide to come to Michigan Tech?
Honestly, I found out about Tech from a teacher of mine in high school and when I went to the website I found the link to Winter Carnival which I thought looked sweet, so I applied and ended up committing here before I ever visited, but it all worked out in the end.
“If I could change the world, I would make quality education free and available to everyone. Being educated is an important gift that cannot be taken away.”
Tell a story about how Michigan Tech has changed you.
Last spring break, I participated in the faculty-led, study abroad trip to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to study Sustainable Tourism. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that opened up my eyes to the different cultures and daily lives of people in other countries. It has definitely changed my outlook on life and made me much more grateful and appreciative of the opportunities I have been given.
How would you change the world if you could?
I would make quality education free and available to everyone. Being educated is an important gift that cannot be taken away.
If you could create any business/invention what would it be?
I would create windshields that never collect snow or rain or get foggy, so you wouldn’t need to heat them up or use your windshield wipers in order to see clearly!
What’s the best advice you can give/have been given?
There is no reason to stress over things out of your control or things that won’t matter in 50 years. Just chill out and take the time to enjoy the simplicities of life.
Any advice for prospective students considering engineering?
Don’t be afraid of change! It’s okay to switch your majors or switch out of classes or change habits or anything like that. It may be uncomfortable, but sometimes change is good and necessary!