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Graduate student spotlight: Drew Descary

 Drew Descary is a first-year master’s of civil engineering student with a concentration in construction. He grew up in the Central Valley of California. He is advised by Drs. Abhinav Gupta and Kevin Han. His research focuses on construction issues surrounding nuclear energy — particularly micro nuclear reactors.

Learn more about Descary in the Q&A below. Answers have been edited for brevity/clarity.


What influenced you to go into engineering?

DESCARY (D): When my brother, John, was going off to college, I was in sixth grade. One evening, my father said, “Andrew, what’s on your mind?” My response (as a sixth- grader) was “I guess I should figure out what I want to study when I go to college.” “Well, what subjects interest you?” asked my father. “I like to build things and I am pretty good with math,” I replied. “Excellent! You should study civil engineering,” my father said. “What’s a civil engineer?” I asked. “I don’t know, but they are good with math and they like to build things,” answered my father. So with that as my guide, I knew I needed to be a civil engineer.


What problem(s) are you trying to solve? Why was NC State / CCEE a good fit for you?

D: The problem that I am wanting to solve is how to deliver clean energy at an economically feasible price. I have long been fascinated by nuclear energy and was lucky enough to meet an extraordinary engineer one day from Fresno, California, Sam Iacobellis, who really inspired me. In addition to being “The Father” of the B-1 Bomber, and launching Global Positioning System (GPS), he also worked in nuclear energy. Through his example, I realized that the answers are out there if you work hard enough.

I chose NC State because I consider North Carolina home. My first duty station was Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, and my time there had an impact on me. NC State has a long and storied past of being a military-friendly school. Dr. Brandon McConnell (Engineering Online liaison and advisor for active duty military and veterans) and the staff at Jeffrey Wright Military and Veteran Services have been incredibly supportive. They are the “game changers.”


Where did your passion for this particular focus come from?

D: When my brother was in junior high school, he competed in the History Field Day competition. His topic was the nuclear bomb and how that changed the world. It made an impression on me that a little bit of fissionable material could release so much energy. The Manhattan Project created the nuclear energy industry, nuclear medicine and a whole lot more.


Where do you see yourself in five years?

D: I see myself as the commanding officer of a SEABEE battalion.