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Like a lot of engineering students, Mike Mahoney advanced from putting together Legos and K’NEX as a kid to competing in robotics competitions at Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. “Figuring out the robotics was like a big puzzle that required me to use my hands and actually apply things,” recalls the Northeast Philadelphia native who is graduating with a BS degree in mechanical engineering. “It was very enticing.”

At Temple, Mahoney focused on mechanical engineering because he thinks it's the most versatile and widely applicable engineering discipline. The rightness of that decision was underscored by his professors who taught classes on the mechanics of solids, fluids, aerodynamics and vibrations: “They had such passion for their subjects, really taught it well and made me realize that things such as aerodynamics and vibrations, which I had never realty though about, were really cool and captivating”

That’s also a good description for what he himself did the past two summers. He was a Department of Navy Pathways Program engineering student trainee with the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) at the former Philadelphia Navy Yard. He got involved with the outfitting of various Navy ship hulls—including conducting and assisting with shipboard inspections and assessments of watertight hulls, as well as developing and revising technical manuals and drawings for hull equipment.

Last year, he spent a week of hands-on training at Naval Base San Diego, among the U.S Navy’s largest naval bases. “The watertight closure configurations are critical because if they don’t work properly, a lot of sailors can die or be injured if something goes wrong or a ship comes under attack,” says Mahoney.

Working with NAVSEA, he noticed that the computer-aided design (CAD) skills, math applications and, most importantly, the critical thinking skills he developed at the College of Engineering frequently came into play. Those same refined skills have also prepared him well for his next stop: a full-time position as an engineer who will continue working on ship hulls for NAVSEA in Philadelphia.

Mahoney relishes the challenge: “Being able to use my degree to help save people and improve their lives is very appealing. It feels like I’ll be able to make a positive change in the world.”