Inducted into UIF: Fall 2019
University: Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Degree: Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate with a specialization in Energy Engineering and minors in Sustainability and Math
What can you contact me about? Developing leadership skills, professional development, topics in sustainability and renewable energy and engineering, interdisciplinary learning, design thinking methodology, running, jokes, Chicago!
Nelson Fernandes is a Mechanical Engineering undergraduate at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Born and raised in Chicago, he ventured to SIU after high school which is about six hours south of the Windy City to explore new opportunities and experiences. Stepping out of his comfort zone, spent the first two years exploring campus and making friends along the way ranging from the TRiO program to Honors College to Engineering Student Council to Robotics to the Leadership Development Program and the University Innovation Fellows. Building relationships and accumulating knowledge from various field to produce excellence with the ability to solve complex problems with a background in multiple fields. Currently completing professional training in the Renewable Energy, Engineering, Management and Finance sectors along with becoming Apple Hardware Certified.
The Leadership Development Program is a nationally recognized NSF program where students undergo an intense two year program of 5:30AM workouts and 6:00AM morning meetings. As a first year, we focus on leading ourselves through developing our servant leadership skills and leading a project once a semester. As a second year, I stepped into a Coaching position where I guided four first year members through the year by reinforcing the primary leadership practices and project management skills. The growth I have made during my time in the program allowed myself to grow into the person I am today. One defining moment was leading our yearly Applied Project. This Applied Project was a three day event at a local electronics company where I led 15 undergraduate members and three Black Belt Six Sigma Masters in a major lean manufacturing project where we redesigned a process for receiving incoming packages which is a major bottleneck as well as a route for their tugger train as well as how to better organize their inventory for optimal and efficient process. A leader who focuses on building relationships with the team and planning ahead to make sure the job gets done. And the skills I have learned, enabled me to develop my U.I.F. project into something larger than originally thought.
As a University Innovation Fellow, Nelson worked with the College of Agriculture specifically by revitalizing and modernizing the existing Green Roof to become an innovative space for multidisciplinary research to be housed. The roof was installed in 2010 for agricultural research; however, became increasingly underutilized between the retirement of the professor who held ownership and lack of ownership among those involved. The plan became to revitalize and modernize the space through a project where a team of students will be recruited for have a major clean up along with installing an autonomous irrigation system, to solve the watering needs, data acquisition device, the previous system's contract expired several years ago and was not renewed, and a wind turbine. The next step is incorporating engineering and agricultural students' research on the roof and increase the research utilization from 1%. Yes, among the 0.1 acre of available space, approximately one percent is occupied for research, while boosting recognition of the space among students and faculty for opportunities. The space was funded by the Student Green Fee; therefore, belongs to the students rather than the Agriculture Building it resides on.
Aside from the Green Roof project, Nelson has hosted several Design Thinking Workshops specifically for the Green Roof in person and online with other SIU Fellows. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Nelson and his fellow Fellows decided to host more workshops to collaborate with our peers and friends around the world they have met at the FH Salzburg's Alps Meetup. In the Spring 2020, Nelson and several other Fellows from SIU traveled to Salzburg, Austria, and participated in their Alps Meetup. Enjoyed every inute of the sleep deprived trip and soaked every experience possible. The most noteworthy experience is working in an Urban Mobility workshop to redesign ways of better utilizing the parking spaces of the FH University. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqLravPcswM&feature=youtu.be)
Accepted as a UIguide in Summer 2020 where Nelson plans on sharing his experiences leading and creating to the cohorts and other Fellows for helping others grow. Always willing to help, known for answering emails within 24 hours and connecting with those he meet on LinkedIn (inside joke worth knowing about)
SIU University Innovation Fellows