Q&A: Grit, perseverance speed Jace Cooper to 3-year degree achievement

Apr 30, 2021
Jace Cooper will receive his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in May 2021.

Jace Cooper ’21 set his sights on an early college degree while he was still a student at Palmetto High School in Palmetto, Florida. With discipline, determination, and hard work, Cooper racked up college credits while still in high school and pressed forward with the same enthusiasm toward his mechanical engineering degree from Florida Polytechnic University, earning the bachelor’s degree more quickly than his peers. 

What was your greatest accomplishment at the University?

It would have to be earning my degree in three years, and it’s an accomplishment especially with a mechanical engineering degree. If I had taken my time, I might have done more things outside of class, but it was worth it. As I got to the junior and senior level, I was gaining a lot of information in a small amount of time. 

What does earning your degree mean to you?

I think it really means accomplishment to me because of the difficulty of doing it in three years. Getting my degree means I pushed through and did things I didn’t always want to do, but I knew it was for the best and I learned a lot. I think I can say I changed a lot as a person through this experience. I grew as a person.

What advice would you give an incoming freshman?

If you really want something, just go out and get it. Don’t give up. You need to persevere because you can achieve things you think you won’t be able to do. Keep pushing and persevere and you’ll surprise yourself. You’ll look back and say, ‘I don’t know how I got here, but here I am.’”

Why did you choose your major?

I understood from what I researched on my own that mechanical engineering was probably one of the broader engineering disciplines and I wanted to have a broad education. I enjoy the subject and designing the physical things we see around us.

How well do you feel Florida Poly prepared you for life after graduation?

I feel it has done a good job, especially with STEM skills. For a STEM-based career – obviously, I haven’t been out there yet – but I’m sure it’s been a good preparation for what the workforce will be like.

What was your favorite course and why?

My favorite course was dynamics. I understood it and did well in that class. It made sense to me and was a very interesting course. It was one of the courses where I felt like I had really grown, so afterward, I felt like more of an engineer.

Where did you complete your internship and what did you gain from the experience?

I was part of the Phoenix Flight entrepreneurship program. It is my dream to start a business, so this gave me a lot of insight into that. We did things like develop a minimum viable product for our idea, which was a robotics company. We went over task management tools and made a business plan, so I definitely think it’s given me more confidence and understanding of a startup business. Now I can take what I learned and build on it through other experiences and resources.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Florida Poly?

Making connections and hands-on learning were the things I enjoyed the most. I know that the friends I made here I will have for life. I also really enjoyed doing the hands-on projects and learned so much.

What are your long-term career goals?

It is my dream to start a business – something tech-related that I can say, ‘This is something I created.’” It would be great to contribute to society. I want to identify a problem and solve it with my engineering background and skills.

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of Q&As with some of Florida Poly’s Class of 2021 graduates.


Lydia Guzmán
Director of Communications