Q&A: Engineering grad gets head start on career in research

Class of 2024

Apr 10, 2024
Sydney Wickett

Sydney Wickett ’24 is on the fast track to earning her master’s degree from Florida Polytechnic University. When she receives her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a concentration in aerospace on Sunday, May 5, Wickett will be only one year away from returning to the commencement stage for her advanced degree. She is among the first participants in the University’s 4+1 master’s degree program, taking graduate-level courses while completing her undergraduate degree.

Why did you choose your major? 

I changed my major impulsively a month before I came here. I thought I was going to study journalism – I was so sure I was going to do it. Then application time came around and I decided to do STEM. I ultimately decided to do mechanical engineering because I’ve had an interest in aircraft since I was a kid. I love watching airplanes and loved watching shows all the time about aircraft mechanics. 

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

Incredibly well. I’ve learned a lot, especially considering how shy I was and how incapable I was speaking with people. The biggest thing Florida Poly has done for me is develop my communication skills, not only in regular communication settings, but in professional settings like capstone and being able to go to conferences and professional things of that nature.

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

My research for sure. During my first two years, I wasn’t super involved and was having a hard time getting into everything. That’s also when you’re not doing full engineering classes yet. Then I started doing research and it was night and day how into it I was. By doing research and also being a student education assistant is how I realized I wanted to be a professor, because it allowed me to keep doing research. I get to look at lots of cool things and work on fun equipment.

What was your greatest accomplishment at the University?

I’m published. I wanted to write for so long, and when I decided I was going to do mechanical engineering I felt bad for not going into writing. Then I ended up being able to be a published author of a research paper in January. It’s so great.

What’s the biggest non-curricular lesson you learned during your time at Florida Poly?

You are your own biggest critic and there is no one who is paying more attention to what you do than yourself. Nobody else goes home and thinks about what I did wrong. It’s hard to get out of that habit and realize no one is paying attention to you as much as you think they are.

What does earning your degree mean to you?

The fact that I’m getting a degree in mechanical engineering is not anything I could have predicted four years ago. I was going to be a data science or a journalism major, but I felt like I would be missing out on something. I never felt like that studying mechanical engineering. I didn’t have a STEM background, but this is a culmination of all the work I’ve been doing, which feels great.


Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of Q&As with several Florida Poly Class of 2024 graduates.

Lydia Guzmán
Director of Communications