James Ristow, Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Kent, OH
“I have understood concepts from work experience, but learned specifics in the classroom.”
James Ristow has a job that's out of this world.
The Florida resident and NASA employee was recently awarded a fellowship that allows him to take three semesters off from work at the Kennedy Space Center to continue his education. When searching for a program in structural dynamics, UMass Lowell was at the top of his list.
“Structural dynamics is a very specialized field and there are really only a few programs in the country that I was looking at,” says James. “Prof. Peter Avitabile is one of the foremost experts in the field and the primary reason I wanted to come to UMass Lowell. I thought if I could study under Prof. Avitabile, I would really know my stuff and have a good, strong base for what I am doing.”
James, who wanted to be an astronaut when he was growing up, has a degree in aeronautical engineering from Embry-Riddle University. A co-op program from his undergraduate studies landed him his current job with NASA, where he spends his days studying the vibrations of launch vehicles and spacecrafts.
“I’ve learned a lot in my three years at Kennedy Space Center, but it’s been great getting back into the classroom,” says James. “There have been several times where I have had a general understanding of a concept from my work experience but have learned the specifics of exactly how it works by studying it in the classroom.”