Meet Collin, who is interested in Cajun cooking and jazz music

Student Spotlight

Name: Colin Schell

Year in Program: Third

Advisor: Dr. Katrina Groth

Research interests: Risk assessment, Causal modeling, Physics-informed machine learning

Dissertation Topic (if applicable): A spatiotemporal Bayesian model for assessing pipeline risk due to ground movement hazards

What drew you to engineering?

Throughout elementary and middle school, I was part of a team that participated in the Destination Imagination competition. Each year, my team competed in the engineering challenge which involved designing and building a machine to accomplish a task in around 7 minutes. The competition rewarded creativity, and because I got to compete with my friends, the challenges were fun and exciting each year. That early exposure to problem-solving, combined with having a great engineer as a father set me on a path to becoming an engineer.

What made you choose UMD and the ENRE Program?

During my junior year, I had a co-op at Tesla where I got to work with the Drive Systems team designing and testing drive shafts. I had a lot of independence and worked directly with the Reliability Engineers on my first project. That was the first time I had been exposed to Reliability Engineering and was quickly drawn to the field. I became very interested in the data analyses they performed and their work on studying the different failure mechanisms that might lead to a failed drive system. I suspected that I might want to study Reliability Engineering so I enrolled in an elective course with Dr. Groth at UMD which quickly confirmed my suspicions.

What do you want people to know about Reliability Engineering that they may not be aware of?

I think many people believe that Reliability Engineering starts and ends with estimating the probability of failure. However, in reality, I believe it's the narrative of failure scenarios that are more powerful. Reliability Engineering is capable of answering the whys and hows of failure scenarios which are the questions decision-makers need to ask if they want to make real changes to improve system safety.

A fun fact about you? (Not related to engineering):

In my free time, I love to cook and play the drums. A lot of my extended family lives in Louisiana which has interested me in Cajun cooking and jazz music.