Class of 1957 Spectrum Award

Cameron Smith '22 standing on the Approach with a view of downtown Troy in the background.
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Class of 1957 Spectrum Award

Update to Our Classmates

September 2022

With much satisfaction, the Class of 1957 is pleased to congratulate Cameron Smith ’22 as the 2022 winner of our Spectrum Award.

In appreciation for winning our annual Spectrum Prize, Cameron Smith ’22 wrote this:
“I want to sincerely thank the Class of 1957 for recognizing me as the 2022 winner of the Spectrum Award. I am very grateful to have been a student at Rensselaer, it has given me countless memories, experiences, and relationships that I will carry with me forever. Although my time as a student may be at its end, I am excited to join the vast alumni community and stay connected with Rensselaer for years to come.”

Coming to Rensselaer from Warrenton, VA, Cameron Smith was fascinated with math and science. From a young age, he was drawn to engineering, which he saw as allowing him to solve unstructured, complex problems that would benefit society. He chose aerospace engineering, hoping to someday work on space vehicles. While at RPI, he made numerous lifelong connections and had experiences that aided his growth as an engineer, a leader, and a community member.

Looking for opportunities to give back to the local community, he joined Engineers Without Borders (EWB), dedicated to empowering communities to meet basic human needs through engineering solutions. With the Troy project team, whose goal was to make a Capital Roots community garden more self-sustaining by building a rainwater catchment system, he became the project leader, facilitating completion of the design report that was ultimately approved for implementation by the national EWB organization. Representing EWB at the Troy Farmers Market, he found working with the larger community one very rewarding way that RPI students can give back to the city.

Accepted into RPI’s chapter of Engineering Ambassadors (EA), it quickly became the extracurricular activity with which he became most involved. A youth swim coach in high school, he enjoyed working with children, and EA provided an opportunity to merge his passion for teaching and mentoring with his interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). He saw his primary role with EA as exciting younger audiences about STEM topics, such as space telescopes and drag force, by combining interesting presentations with exciting hands-on activities to reinforce key concepts.

With EA, he served as Vice Recruitment Coordinator during the spring 2021 semester and president for the 2021-2022 academic year. During this very challenging time, he helped guide the organization through COVID-19 and its subsequent return to in-person operations. Finding the outreach work extremely rewarding, Cam also felt fortunate to have met and worked closely with several wonderful friends through EA.

Eager to become involved with research to contribute to solving novel challenges in the industry, he joined the Intelligent Structural Systems Laboratory (ISSL) led by Professor Fotis Kopsaftopoulos, as an undergraduate research assistant. Working on a project centered on multi-fidelity structural modeling of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) wing, using Siemens NX, he developed numerous finite element models of varying fidelities, working to adapt model parameters so simulations would closely match performance of a high-fidelity wing model.

During his senior year he worked with a Ph.D. student to publish a paper for the upcoming International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition. He sees his involvement with the ISSL and the mentorship of Professor Kopsaftopoulos as a highly impactful learning experience for which he expresses extreme gratitude.

Cameron says he enjoyed his time in Troy in many ways. He made many friends, especially cherishing memories shared with the brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon whom he found to be his closest friends and greatest on-campus support group. He recalls fondly playing in many intramural sports leagues, hiking in the upstate region, and simply relaxing at the chapter house. He jokes that, pre-pandemic, he enjoyed playing on RPI’s club water polo team, “… even though it sometimes required us to endure the West Point team in tournaments.”

After graduating, he spent the summer in Florida with Boeing as a mechanical design engineering intern, applying his knowledge to the CST-100 Starliner program. He also got to watch some rocket launches at Kennedy Space Center. Awarded a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, he is now pursuing graduate work in aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech, focusing on structural analysis and optimization.

About the Class of 1957 Spectrum Award

The Class of 1957 Spectrum Award was created in 2017 in honor of the Class of 1957’s 60th Reunion. The Reunion Planning Committee wanted to plan a class gift which would be directly tied to their class and leave a lasting impact on Rensselaer.

To accomplish that objective, to re-emphasize the Class’s long-standing legacy of generosity, and to keep their strong commitment to Rensselaer and to community service, they created an endowed prize fund which will carry the class name in perpetuity: The “Class of 1957 Spectrum Award: Academics, Service, and Involvement.” This award is given annually to a junior or senior engineering student with an outstanding academic record who also exemplifies the heart and attitude of community service.

Thanks to the generous support from many of the members of the Class of 1957, more than $150,000 has been donated, and the award has now been presented to six outstanding students.

If you would like to support the Spectrum Award via check or other offline giving method, please contact the Office of Annual Giving via email or by phone at (518) 276-6055.

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