Many Lives of Engineers


“Capoeira combines hard physical training, elements of dance and music, and a strong sense of community.”

— MICHELLE POVINELLI, USC Viterbi associate professor, Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering

“The life of an engineering researcher is almost by definition a “life of the mind”: an existence focused on analysis, contemplation, and (if we are lucky) inspiration. If it sounds like a hyper-active consciousness, that’s because it usually is. But inspiration and creativity tend to come from a quiet subconscious place. This is where my Capoeira practice comes into play. The musicality and insane physicality of Capoeira calms the conscious mind, giving the subconscious creative process freer rein. It is my form of meditation. I definitely hear my muses more clearly after a really fun Capoeira roda.”

— OSONDE A. OSOBA, Ph.D. Post-doctoral Researcher and Lecturer, Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering

“Most of my research involves finding the limits to phenomena rather than examining phenomena within known limits. Several times in my life I have contemplated my own limits—a few years ago I wondered, Could I complete a marathon? For a long time the Boston Marathon seemed very far out of reach, but with a typical engineering approach — including Excel spreadsheets, least-square fits and energy calculations — I finally qualified on my 19th marathon by a whopping 31-second margin.”

—PAUL DAVID RONNEY, USC Viterbi professor, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

“While many people feel that art and engineering are complete opposites, I find them to be quite similar. Both utilize visual thinking as well as research and the testing of ideas to combine past knowledge with hands-on exploration.”

— LILI LASH-ROSENBERG, USC Viterbi junior, Biomedical Engineering

“Riding is a sport of dedication, hard work and patience. At times, it can be easy to find excuses for why things aren’t going well, blaming your horse or the methods you’ve practiced for so long. But at the end of the day you have to be confident in yourself.… In many ways, engineering is like that. It relies a lot on how confident you are in yourself, and how dedicated you are to accepting help and practicing over and over until you fully understand the material.”

— SEAN SUMMERS, USC Viterbi senior, Mechanical Engineering; president, USC Racing Formula SAE Team