Meet Our 2014 “College Student of the Year”

Ian Gagnon

Photo credit: Allegra Boverman Photography

Photo credit: Allegra Boverman Photography

What emotions did you feel when your name was called for College Student of the Year?

I was pretty excited to be called. That night I was just getting back from a conference in WA and I was so tired I didn’t really have a whole lot of energy to think much about the event before, but I sure was surprised when my name was called.

How did you balance work, schoolwork, volunteering, and a personal life?

I’m not sure I really have a great answer for this one. A lot of times I look at all the homework assignments and little things I need to get done in a week and it seems like it’s not going to happen, but I guess I just break things down into smaller manageable tasks and keep plugging away at them until I get what I can done. My classmates are also the best. I know in Mechanical Engineering we all realize we have busy schedules and the material is pretty tough. You can always rely on someone to catch you up on something you missed or give you a hand when you need it. There is a pretty strong sense of community throughout our department.

What has been the most rewarding part of your college experience so far?

It was pretty rewarding to be called the 2014 NH College Student of the Year, but this past summer I worked for a professor designing a new test apparatus called a biaxial tensile test machine. The parts are starting to come together on this $20,000 machine and it’s pretty cool to see that I designed this thing. We’ll see how well it works once we get it up and running though.

In your opinion, what is your greatest strength? Area for improvement?

Greatest strength: probably time management. Area for improvement: lack of the ability to tell people no and over stretching myself. Sometimes I get so excited about a bunch of cool opportunities that I spread myself a bit too thin and my social relationships with people tend to suffer. It’s something I’m working on; trying to take time to enjoy what I have and be in the moment.

What advice would you give to a college freshman in order to have the most rewarding college experience?

Most of the time ignore my weakness stated in the last question and realize that college is a pretty special place where there is a system established to help you do pretty much anything you want to do and that your time in college is finite. Be as involved as you can in as many things as you can. Even if you are in a class of 100 students take advantage of the huge resource that your professors and TAs are and get to know your few favorite on a personal level.

What are your plans after college?

Right now I am applying to graduate schools for either a masters or Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. There is a chance I may stay at UNH, but I have looked at a few other schools. I’m trying to work for a professor who is doing research on alternative energy. After grad school I want to pursue a R&D career in alternative energy, maybe something involving offshore wind or tidal energy.

We know you love the Granite State, so tell us:

What is your favorite “hole-in-the-wall” eatery?

A couple friends from home have a pretty long standing tradition of going to Seven Barrel Brewery for wing nights on Wednesday nights.

Where is your favorite weekend-getaway?

My uncle’s cabin in up in Franconia.

What is your favorite season and what makes it your favorite?

Ski season. Although it makes for a really busy schedule it’s all worth the great times spent with friends and family.

How do you love to spend a rainy day in NH?

Probably at home staying dry.

What is your fondest NH memory?

My younger days, growing up, skiing at Whaleback were pretty great.

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