David Drakes ’15 was still weeks away from graduating when he landed his dream job: engineer at Harley-Davidson’s corporate headquarters in Milwaukee, Wis. Drakes, who majored in mechanical engineering in the University of Hartford’s College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture (CETA), grew up around motorcycles. Working with them was a lifelong dream.
“When I graduated high school, I went into a technical program at a community college and learned how to take motorcycles apart and troubleshoot them,” says Drakes, who is from Enfield, Conn. “I actually didn’t even know I wanted to be an engineer until after I was done with that program. I realized I wanted to design motorcycles, not just figure out how they work.”
Once Drakes arrived at UHart, he found the perfect mentor in CETA Professor Ivana Milanovic, who he praises for teaching him to apply calculations and theories for practical use. She also encouraged him to help refurbish the on-campus wind tunnel lab, a project made possible by support from United Technologies and the Connecticut Space Grant Consortium. Drakes joined three undergraduates and one graduate student who were already working on the project. In fall 2015, when the facility is complete, students will use it to study and measure important aspects of aerodynamics.
Drakes also served as the vice president of the Green 707 Car Club, a student organization converting a regular gas-powered pickup truck into an electric powered vehicle. In addition, he was the treasurer of the campus chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. With these activities and an engineering internship at FlowTech in South Windsor, Conn., it’s no wonder Harley-Davidson came calling.