What could be more exciting than defending a world championship title? The Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology Robotics Team is going head-to-head this month with 62 college teams from around the world at the 2017 VEX Worlds Robotics Competition in Louisville, Kentucky. The incumbent world champions want to keep their standing and prove they have what it takes to earn the title for the second consecutive year.

This year’s theme

“VEX Starstruck” is the theme for this year’s robotics competition. The game is played on a 12′ x 12′ field where two alliances, consisting of two teams each, compete to attain the highest score. The goal is for the robot to launch the most stars and cubes over the fence. The opponent can throw the stars and cubes back over, and at the end, the team with the highest score advances to the next round.

Upping their game

The Vaughn robotics team knows what it takes to win. Maintaining their world championship title means keeping up with the latest trends in the robotics industry and knowing how to execute the ultimate delivery.

Here are some of the ways the 10-person team continues to excel this year to meet the fierce competition:

  • Building structurally sound robots—The team relies on the structural aspect of the game, so it’s important that the robot has the utmost structural integrity, and the experience the team brings to the table means a lot.
  • Building team motivation—With hundreds of hours invested in brainstorming, designing and building the robot for competition, it’s vital for the team to stay encouraged and motivated.

Preparing for competition

Being a part of the robotics team is both fun and challenging. Bilal Rashid ’18, president of the Vaughn robotics team and a sophomore at the College, knows first-hand how hard work and dedication can go a long way. Bilal was recognized for his leadership skills as a member of last year’s winning team and was elected president of this year’s team. He explains how his team has been preparing for the competition since last summer. “It’s definitely a team effort,” Bilal said. “It started off with all of us brainstorming ideas until we got it right.” Although it took one month to build their robot, the team invested over one hundred hours to get it ready for competition. With the big day only weeks away, Bilal said the team has been in overdrive by playing against each other to sharpen their skills. “We have been working day and night to ensure our robot is perfect,” said Bilal. “If we can beat ourselves, then we are confident we can beat other teams as well.”

Vaughn College World Champion Robotics Team

Message from the team president

Bilal offers some words of encouragement to his fellow teammates before the big day: “I believe we are on the right track for winning the world championship competition again this year. We couldn’t have come this far without the support and guidance of Vaughn professors and faculty. We’re in it to win it and to make our college community proud.”

Results Update

It was a nail-biting three days at the 2017 VEX World Championship Competition in Louisville, Kentucky last month. Vaughn’s Robotics team went up against 10 teams, winning nine out of 10 matches placing them in third-place and qualifying them for the playoff round.  At the quarter finals, Vaughn competed among the top eight teams and defeated a team from China advancing them to the semi-final playoff round against AURA (a team from the University of Auckland in New Zealand.) After an intense standoff during the third match of the semi-finals, AURA defeated Vaughn, winning the spot to advance to the finals.

“The Vaughn Robotics Team has done an incredible job placing as the third top robotics team in the world,” said Dr. Hossein Rahemi, professor and chair of the Vaughn engineering and technology department. “Congratulations to all the team members for keeping their standing as one of the top ranked competitors in the 2017 world championship for four years in a row.

Looking to get involved? Learn more about how you can join or start a club!

College life is an exciting time to broaden your horizons and explore new possibilities. If you’re a student commuter, living off campus doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of the excitement. In fact, most students who commute would agree that joining clubs and campus activities is a great way to stay connected with your college while maintaining your independence and having a well-rounded experience.

Get Involved and Stay Connected as a Commuter

College students have earned their rite of passage to live an independent lifestyle, even if they are living at home. With college costs continuing to soar, know that you’re not alone as more students are opting to commute.

If you’re a commuter student, you understand the challenge of maintaining the balance of studying and your home life. Here are some tips on how to maintain your independence while living at home:

  • Utilize the library and college resources —Ideal for quiet time and bonding with students and faculty.
  • Embrace a hobby by joining a club—You may have found that since some of your friends have gone away to college, your social life isn’t what it used to be. Joining a club is a great way to embrace an old hobby or establish a new one (such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), robotics, academics, music, art, theater – just to name a few). It’s a fun way to get out of the house and carve out some much needed “me” time to refuel and keep yourself focused.
  • Join a sports teams—Joining clubs isn’t the only way to stay connected on campus. Tap into your athletic side by joining a sports team or lend support to teams by attending games and cheering them on.
  • Respect for privacy—Although respect is a two-way street when living at home, making your needs known for quiet study time is crucial for your success as well as for living in a harmonious household.
  • Save your money—Living at home is saving you a considerable amount of money when compared to the costs of on-campus housing, so take advantage of the time and begin saving for your future while you’re in school.

What can you do at Vaughn College?

Vaughn offers a wide range of clubs and on-campus activities to make your college experience even better. With many on-campus clubs, some students find it hard to choose just one. And if you love participating in sports, then Vaughn’s athletics department is where you want to be. With programs for both men and women, you can find your niche and be a part of the action, even if you’re a commuter. For the spectator, attending games and cheering on your team is a fun way to stay connected on-campus as you support your team and classmates.

Our diverse student body is matched by our selection of clubs that are tailored for students’ specific interests. Vaughn encourages its students to join as many clubs as their time allows. And if your passion fuels you to start your own club, our door is always open to hear your thoughts and ideas.

We invite you to learn more about our on-campus clubs and activities. Most meet weekly during our “common hour” between 11 a.m. and noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Check them out. We look forward to seeing you there!

Thinking about college is exciting for most students, but the uncertainty of choosing a major and the “right” college can be overwhelming.

The good news is no one expects you to know today what field you’ll be working in down the road. But weighing your options, knowing what to look for in a college, and how to successfully navigate the process are the first steps. Whether you are a parent contemplating your child’s future, a high school junior just starting to look at colleges, or looking to transfer―we’ve done some of the homework for you by suggesting our top 10 ways to help you choose the best college for you. So, sit back, take a deep breath and consider the following:

1. Think about what you love (and don’t love)

What lights you up inside? What areas of study have you enjoyed and excelled at? The best starting point when researching a college is to review its academic degrees and reputation in the field. Most freshmen are undecided on a major, but having a game plan to find the right fit for you can help take the stress out of the process.

2. Big or small―not all colleges and universities are the same

Think about your personality and if you would feel happier on a large campus surrounded by thousands of students, or on a smaller, more intimate campus.

It’s also important to consider your learning style. Larger universities tend to have hundreds of students taking their core classes in stadium-style classrooms, or even online. Some students thrive in a more autonomous environment. Other students may prefer smaller classes. It all depends on what makes you most comfortable.

3. Set your sights high

Education experts agree you should look outside your comfort zone when applying to college. When researching your options, familiarize yourself with the college’s GPA guidelines, SAT and ACT score requirements, as well as application deadlines. Don’t limit yourself to just the colleges you feel you can be accepted to. It’s advisable to apply to at least two or three colleges, with one of them being a “reach”. You never know unless you try, so go for the unexpected. You may be surprised at the results.

4. Location, location, location

Think about how close you want to be to home. Will you thrive if you have your family close by, or are you O.K. with being an airplane ride away?

Setting plays a big role. For example, students who have lived in a rural area their entire life might want to break away and attend a college in an urban location. Other considerations include the social climate of the town. Is it a “party college” with a bustling environment or is it located in a quiet, secluded area?

Another important factor to consider is your field of study and related jobs in the area. Vaughn College aviation students, for example, have the best of both worlds. Not only can they study a wide range of fields including aviation, aviation maintenance, aeronautics, engineering and avionics at one of the top colleges in the nation, but the campus is located steps away from New York’s La Guardia Airport and major employers in the New York metro (learn more about our history with these airports here) area looking to hire recent graduates in related fields.

5. Go on college tours

Seeing is believing. Researching colleges and universities online or reading about them in fancy brochures is one thing, but experiencing the campus firsthand and meeting faculty one-on-one through campus tours is the best way to get a real feel for the college (most colleges, like Vaughn College, have Open Houses or one-on-one visits). It’s also an important step in the process for your family, as it is a great way for them to see where you’ll be living for the next four years.

6. Affording it all

The thought of paying for a college education may seem out of reach, but the good news is there’s money out there to help you pay for the costs. There are government grants and scholarships, which is money you don’t have to pay back. There is also the option of government-funded student loans offered at lower-interest rates. Even better news to consider is knowing that many private colleges offer generous financial aid packages to qualifying students as a means to offset the costs.

So, don’t let the price factor deter you from applying to your dream college. At Vaughn College, for example, 90 percent of the students qualify for some form of financial aid.

7. Check out the application process

You may have heard stories from friends about the acceptance or rejection letters they received. The truth of the matter, however, is that most colleges and universities have a higher admittance rate than rejection rate. That’s not to say that some colleges are more selective than others, but knowing this fact going in can help you prepare ahead of time by not putting all of your eggs in one basket. By having other options, you may end up being finding a college that is a better fit.

Vaughn College offers the convenience of “on-the-spot application decision” to students with all the required materials. Students are encouraged to schedule a one-on-one appointment where an admissions officer will review their transcript and offer them a decision on the very day of their visit.

8. It’s never too late to learn

There’s no handbook saying you must attend college straight out of high school. Some students decide to take time off to travel or for personal reasons. Admissions officers will embrace the opportunity to hear about your experiences, so don’t fear that you’re too old or that it’s too late to apply. The truth is it’s never too late to learn.

9. Reputation

Be sure to check out a college’s academic, campus and student life. Important factors to research include the strength and experience of the faculty, easy access to resources, social clubs, sports programs, Greek life, and campus amenities such as on-campus housing and meal plans. These are an essential part of college experience and can make or break your time. Doing your research today can save you time and money down the road. As mentioned earlier, it’s all about finding the best fit for you.

10. Talk to Alumni

Did you ever say to yourself, “Wow, he or she has the best job. I wish I could do that.”? Well, just know that your dream may be closer than you think. They started out just like you―with the same questions, uncertainty and maybe even fears. The good news is they did it and so can you.

Let us introduce you to just a few Vaughn graduates who are living their dreams―dreams which may be just like yours:

Erika Barcenes – Class of ’13 – Bachelor of Science in Aircraft Operations

Jefferson Maldonado– Class of ’16 – Bachelor of Science in Mechatronic Engineering


The Vaughn College men’s basketball team has been at the top of their game when it comes to performance and teamwork. This year, the Vaughn Warriors are looking to take home the championship, having made it into the playoffs every year, as well as reaching the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (HVIAC) Championship game for the past two years.

This season, the team has eight new promising players that Ricky McCollum, coach and director of athletics, fitness and wellness at Vaughn, says has rounded out the team for what he believes is going to be their best year yet.

Training to Compete at a Higher Level

Vaughn College Men's BasketballMcCollum and his assistant coaches have established a winning combination of recruiting star players by scouting local high schools and holding open tryouts and summer camps.

With passion and knowledge of the game, McCollum has spearheaded a structured and well-rounded fitness program to help his players build their confidence and compete at a higher level. Players can expect to undergo a comprehensive program of strength, speed and resistance training?as well as agility skills training?to fine-tune their conditioning and prepare them for playing at the top of their game.

Keeping players in the game requires them to stay academically focused. McCollum says he encourages his players to take advantage of “academic study halls” to learn the importance of time management and to master the balance between their studies and sports.

Last season, one of the team’s star players, Michael Pena, won Player-of-the-Year, and three all-conference players were recognized. McCollum also won Coach-of-the-Year in a unanimous vote by his peers.

Choosing to Play for Vaughn

Vaughn athletes receive incentives that exceed skills training. Vaughn proudly supports its athletics program and has a stellar reputation of having one of the highest graduation placement rates of any college in its class. McCollum explains how he and his staff go above and beyond to create an environment for success to help students further their careers by offering mentorship to guide them every step of the way.

“We provide a wide variety of fitness and wellness programs across the board for all students, not just our athletes,” said McCollum. He explained how his department collaborates with the residence hall staff to create programs such as the “House of Wellness Program,” which is a six-week fitness challenge, as well as other programs that include yoga, Zumba and strength challenges, just to name a few.

A Word from Coach McCollum

Vaughn Warriors in team huddle“I don’t believe any dream is too big,” McCollum said. He thinks every player deserves the chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Each year, the athletics department brainstorms on a team slogan for the upcoming season, and McCollum said this year they decided on “We Are One.” “The entire Vaughn community comes together to support our team,” he said. “Things are looking promising this year. We are strong and ready to go to bring home the championship.”

Sponsored by Nike

In the athletics world, the Nike “swoosh” logo is synonymous with sports and quality reputation. The Vaughn Warriors are proudly sponsored by Nike, with the sporting giant supplying about half of the team’s apparel and equipment.

Other Varsity Sports at Vaughn

Vaughn believes on leveling the playing field by offering a wide-range of sports programs for students of varying athletic talents. Among the programs are men’s and women’s cross country, tennis, basketball and men’s baseball and soccer. McCollum states how players on all teams at Vaughn can expect to receive the same support and mentorship to make their athletic experience a positive one.

Investing in your education is money well spent, but for some students affording college seems out of reach and knowing how to apply for financial aid can be overwhelming. Vaughn College is committed to making their degree programs affordable to students from all walks of life by offering a range of financial aid options to help put them on their path to success. With 90% of its students receiving some form of financial aid, Vaughn is dedicated to working with every student to help them get the assistance they need to pursue their education.

How to get started

All student applications submitted for admission to Vaughn go through two processes to be considered for financial aid.

Merit Aid: All student applications are considered for an academic merit award based on a holistic evaluation of their academic profile. Student credentials that include grade point average (GPA), standardized test scores (SAT and ACT for incoming high school graduates), as well as other academic factors can qualify potential candidates for merit awards ranging from $2,000 to $18,000 per academic year.

Need-Based Aid: All students applying for admission are encouraged to complete the college aid form known as FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This form is filed with the US Department of Education and is used by aid providers to determine the amount of the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC)—which is the amount the student’s family can expect to contribute toward their child’s college education.

The amount of aid is then determined by calculating the difference between the cost of the education and the family’s EFC. This gap is covered by offering qualifying students money through Pell grants, scholarships, work-study programs and low interest loans (subsidized and unsubsidized). For those qualifying for a Pell grant, Vaughn offers grants based on financial need, in addition to other forms of financial aid.

In New York State, students can also qualify to receive aid from TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) to help eligible residents pay their tuition at approved schools located in the state.

Another option is a Parent Plus Loan, where parents with established credit can borrow enough money to pay any educational cost (e.g., flight fees) not covered by other financial aid.

When to apply for financial aid

Last fall, the Obama Administration made changes to the FAFSA to allow students to apply for aid beginning October 1, 2016 for the 2017-2018 academic school year. This is three months earlier than in previous years. This new ruling, referred to as prior, prior, allows students to use their parents’ 2015 tax return, meaning their financial aid eligibility will now be based off of income from two years prior to enrolling in college instead of one-year prior—as was the rule up until now.

For transfer students or students enrolling for the spring 2017 semester, the 2016-2017 FAFSA application is still open to apply for need-based aid.

We are here to help

Vaughn’s financial aid advisers offer one-on-one consultations in both English and Spanish and are trained to guide students in making the best decisions on how to apply for financial aid. They are available Monday through Saturday and are also on hand to help students complete their FAFSA applications.

A word from the vice president of enrollment

“We are committed to helping each and every one of our students receive the education they deserve,” said Ernie Shepelsky, vice president of enrollment. “With one of the lowest tuition rates of any private, non-profit college in the country, Vaughn is a stellar choice to launching your career.”

FAFSA application opens October 1: Apply now!

Two students from Vaughn College had the privilege of attending EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, held on July 24-31, 2016. The students, Paolo Adragna and Zoyla Martinez, were invited to this spectacular aviation event by Vaughn faculty and College administration, and were both in agreement that the experience was nothing less than exceptional. Adragna and Martinez are in their third year at Vaughn—majoring in Aircraft Operations and Airport/Airline Management, respectively. Although they are enrolled in different programs, both students revealed they had the same key takeaway from the event: job opportunity exposure for their future aviation careers.

What is EAA AirVenture Oshkosh?

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh was first launched in 1953 as part of the Milwaukee Air Pageant and, since then, has become one of the world’s largest air shows of its kind. This event is sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and attracts aviation enthusiasts in the fields of homemade flying craft, as well as designers of more serious craft and an expansive list of government agencies and companies involved in the aviation and aeronautics industries.

This year, more than 10,000 aircraft (including 2,855 show planes) arrived at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh and surrounding airports in east-central Wisconsin. The event showcased almost 900 exhibitors and hosted over 1,000 forums and workshops that were attended by more than 75,000 people. Industry partners who were in attendance participated in over 70 news conferences and discussed how their new products and technologies will benefit the aviation community.

Adragna’s and Martinez’ Experience (Hint: They Loved It)

Adragna’s passion for airplanes started at an early age, as he always knew he wanted to become a pilot. After high school, he put himself on the fast track to begin earning his commercial pilot certificate at Vaughn. “The program typically takes one-to-two years to complete, but I decided to speed up the time frame so I can complete the program in five months and begin applying for jobs,” he said. Attending the career fair at AirVenture opened up several doors of opportunity for Adragna. “Although it was an amazing aviation experience seeing all the jumbo jets and aircraft, my favorite part of being at the event was networking with all the companies and hearing what type of experience I need to have on my resume to land a job,” he explained.

The exposure to meeting other prospects for job opportunities was priceless.

Just as you need pilots to fly the planes, you need an airport to land them in. That’s where Martinez’s interest in aviation management lies. “Running an airport is like running a small city,” said Martinez. She currently works for Air Mexico as a customer service agent at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and she says her job there is helping her gain the experience she needs to move up in the industry. “I met so many fascinating people at AirVenture,” Martinez said. “The exposure in meeting other prospects for job opportunities was priceless.” Martinez said her favorite part of the event was the night air show, where pilots performed exciting stunts as part of an aerobatics show. “I learned so much at the event,” she said. “It was so much more than just aircraft and aviation; it was an amazing opportunity to see and meet people from all walks of life, all within this growing industry.”

One-step Closer to Their Aviation Dream Jobs

Adragna and Martinez both agree that the technological innovation and advancements in aviation are amazing and will continue to be so in the future. As Vaughn students, they realize that every class, and experience like AirVenture OshKosh, will bring them one step closer to their dream job in aviation. “Hard work pays off,” said Adragna. “Vaughn is a great institution and I’m confident that my education here is a stepping stone to a successful future as a pilot. I hope to teach at Vaughn someday and give back to future students what my professors have given to me. To most people, the sky is the limit. To pilots, the sky is home.”

Interested in a career in aviation maintenance? Vaughn College invites you to register for one of our complimentary information sessions this month to learn more about this exciting field and discover how your earnings and advancement potential can soar in as little as 16 months.

Aviation Maintenance Information Sessions

We’ll be holding four information sessions on two days at two convenient times:

  • Thursday, August 11 and Monday, August 29
    • Morning at 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
    • Evening at 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

What You’ll Experience:

  • Interactive aviation maintenance experiences and demonstrations
  • Personal tours of our labs and facilities
  • Interaction with our real-world aviation maintenance professors and instructors
  • Consultations with financial aid, admissions and Veterans Affairs representatives
  • Raffles/giveaways
  • Refreshments will be served

**Apply for Vaughn’s Aviation Training Institute during any of the Aviation Maintenance Information Sessions and we’ll waive the application fee.

 Why a Career in Aviation Maintenance May Be Right for You

  • Boeing® technical outlook forecasts the need for 609,000 aviation technicians between now and 2034.
  • Average salary for aircraft mechanics and service technicians is $67,010.
  • 98% of Vaughn graduates are employed or continue their education within one year.

Why Choosing Vaughn Can Take You Higher

Vaughn College excels on every level with credentials that stand out from the rest:

  • Instructors are professionals who are currently employed in the aviation industry
  • New, state-of-the-art training facility allows students to gain practical and interactive instruction
  • Connections to top employers such as Cessna Citation, JetBlue and Sikorsky
  • High FAA exam pass rate

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to learn more about a career in aviation maintenance!

Space is limited. Register today and be sure to reserve your spot. We look forward to meeting you and sharing the excitement of what could be the career you’ve been looking for.



Engineering and Technology Assistant Professor, Dr. Amir Elzawawy received the Spotlight Award for conducting engineering research after spending the summer of 2015 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Dr. Elzawawy was accepted as an ORNL educational program participant and conducted nuclear research in hopes of understanding the mechanical interaction of high-speed coolant flow nuclear research reactor fuel plates. This specific research conducted was important because it highlights safety risks that can occur when in contact with high or low risk uranium reactors.

According to Dr. Elzawawy, he learned how to use software that can be used for researching nuclear reactors as well as common functions of the human body. In his amazement, he brought what he learned throughout the summer working inside the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) and applied it to his curriculum. His students now use Multiphysics to understand heat transfer and fluid mechanics.