"I believe that society as a whole is better off when individuals pursue their dreams."
Engineering student inspires peers to tackle world's big problems
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Graduation: Spring 2017
Devin Justice's college career may not have begun in Tallahassee, but it was his time at Florida State University that afforded the Crestview, Fla. native the support to realize his academic goals and the practical experience to land a job in aerospace engineering that he'd dreamt about since childhood.
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Justice, who graduated from the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering with a degree in mechanical engineering in May, 2017, spent his freshman year studying at Pensacola State College, a smaller institution near his North Florida hometown. It was FSU's robust undergraduate research culture and the promise of absorbing and meaningful lab work that convinced Justice to make the move.
"I decided to transfer to Florida State after seeing the impressive research environment here and the emphasis, through programs like Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), on undergraduate involvement," Justice said. "This is especially true for the engineering research conducted at Innovation Park; the chance to contribute to such impactful research with direct aerospace applications led to my final decision."
At FSU, Justice worked extensively with the High-Performance Materials Institute (HPMI), an internationally recognized multidisciplinary research institute on campus focused on researching, manufacturing and commercializing high-performance composites and multifunctional nanomaterials.
Justice researched ways to improve the mechanical and electrical properties of carbon nanotube composites for future use in aerospace structures. This work required Justice to develop novel methods of aligning, deforming and testing samples in order to identify demonstrably enhanced material properties.
"I learned more at HPMI than I could have imagined," Justice said. "Equally important to the technical knowledge I gained is the realization that one can fail and still succeed through perseverance. Working at HPMI was the most impactful and exciting experience I had while attending Florida State."
Richard Liang, FAMU-FSU professor of engineering and director of the HPMI, credits Justice for his aptitude as a scholar and his tireless work promoting research on campus.
"Devin is a well-motived student and is willing to explore research activities to accelerate his career," Liang said. "Through his hard and creative work, Devin delivered excellent research results. More importantly, Devin has been proactively participating in student research events, posters and presentation competitions, and received multiple awards. I believe his research experience gained at HPMI has inspired him to pursue a successful career in engineering science and manufacturing."
In addition to conducting cutting-edge materials research with HPMI, Justice also served as the vice president of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME), where he strove to expose students to the various academic and career opportunities in the field of engineering.
In his role as an ASME administrator, Justice worked closely with the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering to establish the college's first chapter of Enable, a global network of volunteers who use 3D printing technology to fashion free hand and arm prosthetics to those in need of an upper limb assistive devices.
"After attending the Orlando Maker Faire and speaking with Enable members we had the idea to extend this project to the Tallahassee area," Justice said. "The entire ASME executive board then made it a priority to establish a similar chapter here. This project is extremely exciting because of the positive impact it can have on our community. It serves as a way for ASME to give back."
Justice said that what he most treasures about his experience at FSU were the many opportunities he's had to encourage fellow students to pursue their dreams. Engineering, he said, is the perfect discipline for ambitious young thinkers who want to make tangible and consequential differences in their worlds.
"There are a lot goals currently set by society that will require more than technical knowledge and hard work; they will require engineers who believe in what they are doing and are driven by passion," Justice said. "This is particularly true if we are to ever reach Mars or reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. In addition, I have a lot of people who have supported me throughout my endeavors and I feel that I owe that same encouragement to my friends and colleagues. I believe that society as a whole is better off when individuals pursue their dreams."
Boasting a resume of exemplary academic and service work at FSU, Justice secured a position with the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Los Angeles, where he will be developing technologies engineered to improve the safety of our servicemen and servicewomen.
"As a child I was always intrigued by aircraft and as I grew older I dreamed of working with Lockheed," Justice said. "It is surreal to finally be a part of this world-leading defense company."
By Zachary Boehm, University Communications Intern
Produced by the offices of Information Technology Services, the Provost, Student Affairs, Undergraduate Studies and University Communications.