Christopher Veto (2nd Quarter, 2007)

2nd Quarter, 2007
Engineering Scholarship Winner
Christopher Veto

Christopher plans to either study at the Ira A. Fulton School of engineering at the Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College — working with the NASA internship program for a BSE in aerospace — or study engineering as part of an integrated engineering and law program at The George Washington University to pursue the interests of his greatest role model: Benjamin Franklin.

An Eagle Scout and two-year varsity starter as Hamilton High School’s offensive center, Christopher helped contribute to a 5A DI State Championship his junior year. As a senior, he was named first team All-Region, second team All-Tribune, and All-State Honorable Mention by the Arizona Republic. He has further been named Old Spice’s Red Zone Player of the Year and was selected as a team captain his senior year against Chandler High School, a cross-town rival, for the Fiesta Region Championship. Christopher is an AP Scholar, earning all A’s since first grade; he is ranked 8th in his class of 720 with a GPA of 4.66 and takes great pleasure in leading as President of his National Honors Society — helping the less fortunate through programs like ICAN’s backpack drive. He additionally holds the position of President for both his school’s state runner-up “We the People” Citizen and Constitution team as wells as his school’s Link Crew freshman transition program.

Christopher enjoys spending his free time volunteering locally through Chandler Regional Hospital, Mayor’s Youth Advisory Commission, and Habitat for Humanity. He has also spent a portion of his summer helping younger Huskies to hone their football skills and strengthen their work ethic. Christopher fully acquiesces to the following belief: individuals in search of their identity should ultimately find themselves by becoming lost in the service of others.

A Portion of Christopher’s Winning Essay:

Christopher Veto
Christopher Veto

Throughout elementary school, I have particularly excelled in mathematics. When I was in the second grade, I had the opportunity to test into my school’s C.A.T.S. program (Chandler Academically Talented Students). I then became a third grader in a third and fourth grade combination class. This was perhaps my first experience of being one of the younger kids in a learning environment; however, it would not be the first, and this trend would reappear all the way through high school, forming somewhat of an educational motif.

Fourth and fifth grade were really frustrating years for me, because there were no combination classes which would allow me to learn at my desired, enthusiastic pace.

In sixth grade, I can remember my teacher telling my mother that I would some day hold the occupation of a designer — possibly fabricating a synthetic heart or even helping to design the next space ship to land on the Martian surface. At the time, I actually found both of these fields quite fascinating; yet, I later realized that I would aerospace engineering would consume my imagination.

When I made the transition from 6th grade to Jr. High School, I was placed in a mathematics course two years above my age group. In seventh grade I felt extremely out of place being the only seventh grader in an honors eighth grade mathematics course. I can vividly remember my first day in class and how the older peers seemed to arch over me. I worried that I would say something illogical, and I tried to keep quiet to avoid any unfounded scrutiny.

My first interaction with this older group came when we had to design — or rather engineer — curves that would fit the given slope-intercept form. This was when I first demonstrated to my peers that I could stand as their accomplice in conquering new concepts.

Eventually, my classmates began to accept me, and I think they saw that we could all help each other to overcome difficult problems if we neglected the age barrier.

The following year, I was once again inundated with the boredom of learning in a class filled with peers of my own age. The school offered no higher math course, and thus I was placed in a class with all eighth graders. That year, I competed with the school math team and placed third at the Chapter Math Counts competition.

I never thought that I could actually transform my education into a tool that would permit me to compete for my school and garner a trophy thanks to my purest passion to manipulate and solve equations. I had remained two years ahead up to that date and had earned an A+ for mathematics on every report card.

My freshman year of high school I think I really noticed my appeal for design from a drafting course I took. The instructor would give us page numbers in a book which would provide us with complex shapes for which we were required to recreate. The trick of this assignment was that we had to discover for ourselves how we would use the drafting equipment to reproduce the image. Thus, we had to engineer an appropriate technique; I loved this exercise. I would always turn in my assignments at least two class periods before any of my peers.
That same year I also took a mathematics course which was mainly filled with juniors and seniors. Once again I was the younger kid in class, and it took me quite a while to gain the recognition and camaraderie of my peers. My teacher seemed to notice my fascination with solving equations, and she named me Math Student of the Month the first month of the semester. She even let me sit next to some of the older girls in the class so I could help them understand concepts such as interest growth [C(1 + r/n)^(nt)].

After taking the PSAT test my sophomore year, I was ranked in the 98th percentile of the nation. I had the opportunity to take Pre-Calculus that year and I once again had the experience of working with a group of older peers. I think that this class opened a new door for me in the realm of understanding mathematics and its practical application to engineering because much the curriculum had a general focal point on geometry. I learned how equations like the law of cosine and the law of sine could help to solve for unknown angles and triangle lengths.
I am quite certain that I will use these skills of trigonometry in the future for even the simplest of designs because I see triangles everywhere, from the more generic cable-stayed bridge to the more sophisticated cantilever bridge.

I also commence my first major engineering project this year for my Eagle Scout Project. The project included the creation of a Dessert Tortoise Habitat at Lake Pleasant which would meet the standards of Adobe Wildlife Management for two tortoises to inhabit the following spring. The habitat was constructed next to the visitor’s center and it helped tourists to gain an understanding of the local wildlife. I am proud that I led a crew to construct a habitat which would endure a great length of time because I wish to one day take my future kids to see the site.

My junior year, I earned a 5 on the Calculus AB exam. I was also once again named student of the month in math for my dedication to solving problems and for the excitement I showed with every new concept. I was able to use my trigonometric background from Pre-Calculus to help solve questions of related rates.

My junior year I further had the opportunity to compete in the mousetrap car segment of the science fair, entailing the conversion of the mousetrap spring’s potential energy into the kinetic energy (1/2mv^2) of the mousetrap car itself. My honors physics teacher proved highly instrumental in motivating me to design a car that would compete both in trial length, weight, and ingenuity.

As a senior in high school, I am currently taking AP Calculus BC, AP Physics, and AP Statistics. After taking the SAT Reasoning Test this year, I placed in the top 97th percentile of the nation with a score of 730 on the Mathematics portion. I additionally took the Mathematics Level 2 subject test and scored a 730.

AP Physics has particularly taught me that the universe is substantially more complex than I originally pondered. For example, I now comprehend that my mouse trap project was far more physically intricate than just the change in its linear velocity. The car also had an angular velocity with respect to the wheel, and it had a rotational energy as it moved (1/2Iw^2).

My Physics teacher has strongly pushed me towards engineering in a nonchalant fashion by simply sparking my interest with informational updates of NASA’s space program and intriguing connections of classroom physics to modern flight. I also find it particularly fascinating that his sub-of-choice is an aerospace engineer who takes great pleasure in teaching the class about the stealth and speed capabilities of the SR-71 Blackbird.

I have chosen engineering over other educational opportunities because mathematics has always been my strongest subject, and I feel compelled to engineer a method to solve every problem. My father encouraged the field as an electrical engineer formerly employed by Motorola and currently employed by On Semiconductor. Every “Take Your Child to Work Day” I would venture with my father to the wafer labs in Arizona’s version of Silicon Valley, and I would investigate the fabrications of company microchips. Apparently, NASA uses a great portion of its microchips, which have been fashioned by the Motorola Corporation, in its orbiting satellites. NASA uses these microchips because they have a reliability rating of Six Sigma. In AP Statistics, I have learned that three sigma equates to 99.7% of all possibilities. Thus, Six Sigma — six standard deviations from the mean — is unfathomably close to perfection, totaling only 3.4 defects per one million parts. I can only begin to speculate the precision of engineering put into those parts, and I wish to one day approach the intelligence of those talented engineers.

My brother, a current student at Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College, has also had a significant impact in my fascination with engineering. With an internship for NASA’s Space Grant project, using the Mars Odyssey and the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, he has brought home many photographs and has inundated my life with a new understanding of how engineers from NASA plan to build a habitable infrastructure on both the lunar and Martian surfaces. He speaks volumes as to the power of determined, steadfast engineers. He has helped me to realize how such a strong background in mathematics can lead to a future in the engineering world: the chance to create something that would aid mankind.

I think that engineers are the true politicians of this world. They guide society by helping individuals to seek better lives, microscopically with bioengineering and macroscopically with projects like NASA’s space exploration. Every time I sit down in my bathroom at home and leaf through the monthly “Popular Mechanics,” I realize that engineers are going to decide how we transport ourselves in the future, how we heal ourselves, how we survive. More and more I become convinced that policy is determined not in congressional chambers but in engineering think-tanks.

I chose to become an engineer because I want to make my exploration dreams come true. I want to search the depths of the oceans as well as the abyss of space. I chose engineering because I want to be a Leonardo da Vinci of this era: an innovator who gave his life to the service of mankind by drafting concepts that would truly progress society.

My greatest contribution to the engineering world is a purest passion to create, to build, to explore, and to persevere. I am excited for the future because I believe that, as an aerospace engineer, I will be able to help create crafts which will make life on Mars and the lunar pearl possible. I think that space truly holds the future for scientific research that will one day allow humans to cure the myriad of diseases which we find a great threat to our society.

Copyright 2007, All rights reserved.

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