Jefferson Maldonado, Class of '16

Jefferson Maldonado '16 had an interest in robotics long before he came to Vaughn College.

"I was on vacation from the Navy for two weeks, and I used the time to build an irrigation system that was controlled over the Internet," he says. "That was when I decided to pursue engineering." 

A native of Queens, Maldonado explored the field of robotics while still in high school, and worked as an aviation maintenance technician in the Navy after graduating, where he advanced quickly. The Secretary of Defense, impressed by Maldonado's naval technology knowledge exhibited during a tour of the ship, sent Maldonado an honorary coin, inscribed with the President's seal.

After four years of service, he was faced with a choice: re-enlist or apply to colleges. He chose to pursue education and credits his experience in the military as a driving force to helping him complete his education. 

"They wanted me to stay, to re-enlist; but by the end I would see these engineers flying in to the aircraft carrier and I thought ‘I really want to be one of those guys.' So I started looking at colleges."

Maldonado made the decision to come to Vaughn after he read about the mechatronic engineering program and the robotics club available to students. In the spring of 2013, he was named president of the robotics club. He spends much of his time designing, developing and building robots for competitions while helping newer Vaughn students acclimate to the community.

Despite the success he has achieved along his professional and educational journey, Maldonado feels his greatest accomplishment is maintaining a high grade point average.

"Mechatronics classes are pretty fast-paced, and I've always been more of the hands-on type," he says. "So I'm happy that I've been able to juggle my classes and my work in robotics."

Maldonado is scheduled to graduate in 2016, and hopes to pursue a career in the defense industry or pursue further education.

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