2016 NAoki
Senior - Northeastern University
Major: Electrical Engineering
Naoki was born and raised in New York City, and is a second generation Japanese American. Ever since he was a child, Naoki was fascinated with engineering. In high school, he was a part of Stuyvesant high school’s FIRST Robotics Competition team, as well as the Science Olympiad Robot Arm team. Aside from academics, actively participating in these teams became his top priorities, and he would spend almost everyday after school designing and building robots. These two activities gave root to his current passion for engineering. 

Naoki was accepted into Northeastern University, where he is pursuing both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in electrical engineering. During his freshman year, he discovered SASE. In his time with SASE, Naoki has spent two years on the executive board, as the Corporate Relations Chair and then as Vice President. He led Northeastern’s National InnoService Competition team in 2015, which earned 3rd place. He also teaches workshops to Northeastern SASE’s general body members, and has helped to plan many events during his time on the executive board.

During the summer of his freshman year, Naoki interned at Pavlok, which was awarded with Boston’s Best New Startup of the Year Award. He also teaches workshops on embedded programming at Northeastern’s Sherman Center every month to large groups of students and faculty. On his own time, Naoki takes on personal projects such as homemade quadcopters, 3D printers, and other handy robots.

What have been some of the challenges in pursuing STEM?

STEM education requires access to resources that provide important hands-on experience. In order to better understand STEM, many times I have found myself trying to acquire various equipment and technology so I can learn on my own.

Why is STEM field involvement important to your community?

The STEM fields are some of the few fields that can yield an indefinite amount of innovations to keep raising the standard for how our society confronts various problems. That’s why it’s important for people in the community to become involved and keep raising the limits, improving the overall quality of life for the world.

Who has inspired you in your life and why?

Definitely my mother. Despite coming to America alone when she was my age, she was able to make a living for herself in New York City. After her divorce, she worked extra hard and took on more jobs to make sure my sister and I had a good education, all the way from kindergarten to college. I strive to work half as hard as she does!

What have you learned from someone who is very different from you?

“You’re unique, just like everyone else.” But seriously, everyone has their own perspective. I’ve learned that it’s important to understand that there are those who don’t see things as you do and to remain open-minded.

What do you consider the most urgent problem in the world today? Why?

Probably discrimination, and miscommunication. I think that if our society could truly understand each other, and look past and even embrace our diversity, we can be constructive and stand stronger in facing the crises that rock our country.