Vaughn College celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month with the story of a first-generation Pakistani college student, Malik Khuram ’25, who came to New York at the age of 10 and discovered his passion for aviation and engineering at a young age. Now as a junior mechanical engineering student at Vaughn, Khuram  is pursuing his dream in the industry—making his mark at Vaughn while getting hands-on work experience at Con Edison East River Generating Station located on 14th Street in Manhattan.

His Passion for Engineering Led Him to Vaughn

“I grew up in Pakistan and moved to New York with my family when I was 10 years old,” Khuram said. “I attended the Aviation Career and Technical Education High School—also known as Aviation High School—in Sunnyside, Queens. It was there that my future career path took flight.” As an institution that prepares students for careers in the aerospace industry, Aviation High School also partners with Vaughn to recruit high-achieving students who wish to pursue careers in the engineering and aviation industries. Little did Khuram know that he would be one of those fortunate students that Vaughn selects each year to receive the one full scholarship that is awarded each year. “I worked very hard throughout high school to maintain a competitive grade point average,” he explained. “Vaughn was always on my radar as a college I wanted to attend. I was shocked when the vice president of the school and my guidance counselor told me that I had been selected to receive that year’s scholarship to Vaughn!”

Khuram solidified his decision to attend Vaughn during an Open House event. “The low student-to-professor ratio and impressive curriculum really excited me. But most of all, I was grateful for the full-ride scholarship to attend such an amazing college.”

Support from CSTEP

In addition to his full scholarship, Khuram is also part of the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), which provides him with additional funds for books, software and travel to internships. “I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the financial support I receive from Vaughn,” Khuram said humbly. “They have eliminated that burden which is giving me the opportunity to focus on earning my degree and planning my future.”

Engagement Beyond Academics

NASA Rover Challenge 2022Khuram emphasized the well-rounded student experience at Vaughn which has enabled him to apply his mechanical engineering skills to real-life scenarios, actively participating in the robotics club serving as the current president of the NASA Rover Club. “Last year was an exciting time for our team. We attended the Human Exploration Rover Challenge in Huntsville, Alabama where we competed against students from around the world. It was a great all-around experience.”

Khuram said he also enjoys being a member of Vaughn’s student chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). “Being part of a larger organization made up of individuals who share your heritage and interest in engineering is empowering,” he stated. “It’s great to know that I belong to a community that recognizes and supports my potential and impact in the industry.”

Internship and Co-Op at Con Edison

Ambition, hard work and persistence make up the foundation on which Khuram is achieving his life goals. He explained how Chaundra Daniels, director of career services at Vaughn, was instrumental in helping him land his internship at Con Edison. “She sent me an email about the internship, and then helped me apply and prepare for my interview. I was accepted as a summer intern and I knew the opportunity would be the gateway to something bigger for me.”

At the end of the summer internship, Con Edison offered Khuram a co-op position with the company. “It’s a little challenging—balancing college and work—but it’s all worth it,” he said. “I’m taking 18 credits this semester and working 18-20 hours each week. The best part is how Con Edison gives me the flexibility I need to be successful both in my studies and at my job.”

Industry Experience

Khuram said he loves working at Con Edison. “I work at the steam plant in Manhattan that controls the hot water and electricity for various parts of the city. It’s a massive plant that occupies three city blocks,” he explained. He said he assists with scheduling the work in the office and also shadows the engineers when they work out in the field. “I have the opportunity to interact with so many people in different areas. In my co-op position, I’m able to ask questions, experience different roles and figure out what I like best. I learn something new every day and love the relationship I’ve built with the management team.”

When asked why he believes engineering is one of today’s most in-demand fields, Khuram replied: “Technology is everywhere and changing constantly. We need engineers for every sector. They look for ways to make things work better, which in turn, will make our lives better.”

Advice to Students

For anyone interested in becoming an engineer, Khuram said it’s important to remember that you have options: “Not every engineer works in the field. Some work at a desk. The key elements come down to three things: problem solving, persistence and patience.”

At 23 years old, Khuram looks to the future with hope and positivity. “I would love to be offered a permanent position with Con Edison after graduation. I love the work I do there. My plan is to apply for an associate engineer position where I could make up to $75K to start. The rest is up to fate.”

If you share Khuram’s passion for engineering, explore the possibilities with a futureproof degree in engineering, technology, management, or aviation. Apply to Vaughn College today!