Vaughn Senior Fast Tracks His Future in Mechatronic Engineering
Going above and beyond and embracing opportunities has led Vaughn senior Atif Saeed ’20 to achieve academic success throughout his life. At 22 years old, Saeed will be graduating summa cum laude next month with a bachelor of science in mechatronic engineering—completing the program one year early.
He credits Vaughn College for supporting him every step of the way and offering opportunities that he says were stepping-stones to his success. Here’s his story.
Born in Pakistan, Saeed moved to upstate New York with his parents and two siblings when he was three years old. In 2012, his family moved to New York City where Saeed attended high school. Knowing he and his siblings could be first-generation college graduates in his family, Saeed said he was very motivated to attend college earlier than the normal timeframe. He began a dual-enrollment program in high school, where he took online college courses to fast track his graduation in three years instead of four. “I watched my father work 14-hour days to support our family,” Saeed said humbly. “I felt strongly about working and studying hard to earn my college degree and pursue a career that could help my family.” Looking back, he said taking engineering courses early on in high school gave him a head start to gain the knowledge he needed to succeed in college.
Passion for aviation
Growing up, Saeed said he was obsessed with watching documentaries that explained how things are built. He explained how his passion for aviation stemmed from a family trip to Dubai about 10 years ago. “We boarded an Airbus A380 aircraft and I was immediately in awe of the size of the plane,” he said. “That day was the turning point for me. It was then I realized I wanted to work with aircrafts.”
Pursuing the dream at Vaughn
At 17 years old, Saeed enrolled in the aviation maintenance associate of applied science (AAS) degree program at Vaughn’s Aviation Training Institute. After earning his AAS degree, he kept his eye on his future and enrolled in the mechatronic engineering program at Vaughn. “I chose mechatronic engineering to broaden my job opportunities after graduation,” he stated. “I believe the wealth of knowledge in the fields of mechanical and electrical engineering—combined with computer science—is a winning combination to position myself for a futureproof career.”
Embracing opportunities at Vaughn
There’s no denying Saeed studied diligently throughout his time at Vaughn; however, he believes it was going beyond the walls of the classroom that helped set his future on a track for success. “I made it a priority to take on leadership roles in several clubs at Vaughn,” he said. “I embraced every opportunity that was offered to further my education and knowledge in the field.” To date, he holds two licenses and certifications, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airframe and Powerplant License and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) General Radiotelephone Operator license. Additionally, he has authored four publications presented at industry conferences and has received several awards throughout his time at Vaughn. Saeed said he believes the strong relationships he built with his professors, faculty and career services department were instrumental in helping him prepare for a successful career.
Stepping-stones to his future
First and foremost, Saeed believes anyone can be successful if they are willing to work hard and do what it takes to achieve it. “Attitude is everything. From a young age, I was taught to go above and beyond anyone’s expectations, including your own,” he said humbly. “You only answer to yourself. If you do whatever it takes to rise above the rest, you can achieve anything.”
He shares some tips on what students can do while in college to make themselves competitive after graduation:
- Acquire licenses
- Sharpen communication skills
- Attend conferences
- Submit work for publication
- Connect with faculty and build strong relationships
- Keep an open mind
- Start building resumes early
- Don’t give up
With several job offers on the table and numerous acceptances to graduate programs across the country, Saeed is gearing up for the next chapter in his life after graduation. “I believe today’s students need to be laser-focused on acquiring the necessary tools and knowledge to be competitive in today’s market,” he said. “Vaughn can get you there.”
The next chapter
Saeed loves a challenge and the next chapter of his life will be no different. In June, he will begin his new job at Lockheed Martin Space in Sunnyvale, California, working as a mechanical engineer. Alongside his job, he chose the University of Southern California to pursue his master’s in aerospace engineering, where he will be taking online courses beginning in August. “I believe education is the cornerstone of success in the field of engineering,” Saeed said. “I plan on earning my master’s degree to help me advance in the industry, then move onto earning a master’s in business administration (MBA) to round out my credentials.”
Home is where the heart is
He may be moving across the country, but Saeed says his close-knit family will be close at heart. “It will be hard leaving my family, but they are amazing people who have supported me my entire life. My father worked hard so I could go to college. Now, it’s my turn to return the favor.”