Tomas Silberberg

Class of 2023
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Short Hills, NJ
High School: Millburn Highschool

What Made You Decide to Attend UMD?
I committed to UMD at the end of my first and only tour of campus. My tour guide was so passionate about the school and all the opportunities it had to offer. On top of the amazing tour experience I had, I was really drawn to the makerspaces on campus. I was able to tour the Singh Sandbox in the Iribe Building, and the Terrapin Works makerspace in A. James Clark Hall. Both of these spaces allow for students to be trained in using machine shop tools and work independently on their own projects. In these makerspaces students can work, for free, on personal projects or on class projects. On top of both of these awesome experiences I had, the location was a huge draw for me. Being so close to DC, UMD is in a perfect location for an aspiring engineer looking to work in the defense contracting industry.

Best Experience with a Class or Project
My best experience with a class was my ENES100 Over Sand Vehicle experience. As team leader, I was able to practice my leadership skills while also broadening my engineering horizons. As the leader of a diverse group of 8 students, I coordinated the various tasks that needed to be done simultaneously. The project required lots of collaboration, as many different engineering facets were involved in the creation of the robot. During this time period, I had also gotten my own 3D printer, so I was able to print parts in my own dorm room. Having my own printer allowed me to expand my experience with 3D printer manufacturing while getting access to rapidly produced prototypes. After weeks of designing, creating, testing, and redesigning, our team managed to create the best robot in the class. The class taught me how intertwined the engineering disciplines are and how important teamwork is.

Favorite Class In Major
ENME272: Introduction to Computer Aided Design

Favorite Class Out of Major
JOUR175: Media Literacy

Student Organizations/Extracurricular Activities
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
On-Campus Research in the Robotics Realization Lab
Northrop Grumman’s Mission Systems Innovation Challenge
Terps Racing Formula SAE Team

Favorite On-Campus Event
In the past, my favorite on-campus event has been the career fairs. Since my freshman year, first semester, I haven’t missed a single fair. Before my first career fair, I met one of my best friends in college, by offering him to come with me to buy a suit for the career fair. During the fair, I was able to secure an interview for Northrop Grumman, as a freshman! I love to go up to company representatives and give my speech about all the cool experiences I’ve participated in at UMD, and hear more about their companies. The career fair also makes the work I do in the classroom feel so much more real. As I work on my thermodynamics project, I think about how I could talk to a company representative about it. It turns an otherwise mundane assignment into a conversation topic.

Favorite Research or Study Abroad Experiences
During this last summer, I got involved in undergraduate research at the Robotics Realization Lab, under Dr. Chopra. As an undergraduate researcher, I was granted a level of autonomy I would have never imagined I would have gotten. I met with Dr. Chopra and a graduate student, Lasitha Weerakoon, and discussed the project they wanted to undertake: A semi-rigid, semi-flexible robotic arm. I met with them a couple of times in order to hone in the desired characteristics of the arm, budget, overall reach, degrees of freedom, etc. Since then, it’s been free rein. I independently researched, designed, and modeled in CAD a robotic arm, I created a parts list and budget, 3D printed a few parts and assembled the arm. All of which I was able to do on my own time. During this research project, I have learned an immeasurable amount about engineering and the design process.

Cool Engineering Experience
During the Spring of last year I got involved in Northrop Grumman’s Mission Systems Innovation Challenge. This was one of the most unique experiences I have had at UMD. Northrop Grumman holds engineering challenges every year to allow UMD students to compete to create some awesome projects. Last spring we were provided a Jetson Nano Dev kit. The embedded computing board was given to us and we were told to find and solve a problem related to COVID-19. The board was designed to be used in machine learning applications. Machine learning usually involves teaching a computer how to think. We taught our Jetson Nano how to see and detect face masks on a person’s face. Leading my team of 4 we were able to come together and create one of the most interesting projects I've made to date.

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