Justin Villes
Student, Class of 2020

Why did you choose this program (major)?

The answer just happened upon me one day. I was a student at City College of San Francisco, nearing the end of my general course work, and still unsure of what major I should pick or even where I was going to transfer. I came from a construction background, so the natural choice would have been Civil or Mechanical Engineering but neither of them spoke to me. After countless dead-end searches, I became frustrated by all the questions piling up on one another. So I headed off for a break at my favorite coffee spot, grabbed a paper, and thought a good read would help ease my mind.

While browsing through the paper I happened upon an article that talked about this technology called ‘Carbon Capture.’ At first glance, it didn’t seem like much but the more I read the more enthralled I became. It was so fascinating that we could take such an active stance against global warming with this technology! As I continued to read, the article concluded with something around the lines of ‘…and if this technology sounds interesting you should check out Oregon Institute of Technology’s Renewable Energy Engineering Program...’ I was sold and applied soon after.

What are you passionate about changing in this particular field and why? How are you planning to use your degree in the future?

The technology that brought me to Oregon Tech is what I’m most passionate about. Renewable Energy is all about using a resource that can be replenished without harming the environment. Taking a hazardous waste product and upcycling it into a useable eco-friendly material also has its place within Renewable Energy. I want to help bridge the technological gap between today’s technology and the innovations of the future. The devices of today will be around for some time after they have been outmoded, but the actions of today will also ripple long after we’re gone. Carbon Dioxide will be one of those long-lasting consequences of our action. That is why I am using the knowledge that I’ve gathered over the years to design and implement my own system that actively captures carbon dioxide out of the air.

Why did you decide to join TOP?

I had a few friends join TOP and they loved the supportive one-on-one attention they were given. They’d tell me about the Coffee Connect hosted by TOP every Tuesday afternoon and one of the many guest speakers that have come to inspire students. There was even one time that they were able to go to Boeing for a tour! The thing is, even with all these amazing activities, what was spoke most highly of was the staff. They create such a welcoming environment and their doors are always open. This is why I chose TOP. It’s a great place to connect with people and the mentorship offered is truly invaluable. It’s a program that cares about you, not only as a student but as a person.

Is there anything about Oregon Tech that you wish everyone knew about?

The tools to success are offered but you must seek them out. There’s a bit of a learning curve to find all the resources specific to your goals. Once you find your road to success, it’s comforting to know how much support there really is for you. Therefore, I would suggest showing up to events held by the school because those human connections will take you farther than you think.

What is your favorite hobby, and do you have any experiences you would like to share regarding that hobby?

Small business development. It is extremely hard but learning about how to start my own business and helping others to do so is very satisfying. Right now I’m still in the infancy stages of my own business, but going out to generate interest, making the cold calls, and hearing people express genuine interest is truly rewarding. I still plan on keeping my day job and finishing up school though. So, in the meantime starting my business is pretty much my hobby.

What fuels you to succeed?

Passion. It’s one of those things that’s frustrating because you can never get a straight answer of how to find it, but when you do you’re hooked. I count myself very fortunate to have found mine. It’s a passion that leads to success. We all fail, trust me I have, but if you have a passion you won’t care as much about the failure. You’ll care so much more about the success. It’s unfortunate that we’re conditioned to think of failure as a negative concept because without it we can’t adapt our way of thinking. When we’re able to change our mindset, the smallest victories fuel our drive to push forward. That fuel moves us past the negative side of failure and onward to using it as a constructive tool, leading to even more successes. Passion forces you to come to this realization, and it is passion that will set you apart in a crowded room.

Who is your favorite professor and why? Do you know any interesting facts about that particular professor?

Michal Kawka. Although he is not a professor, the lessons he teaches students are eye-opening and inspiring. He’s able to share a perspective that is understanding but challenges you to expand your way of thinking. Edging you away from the quick answers with short-term solutions into carefully laid out plans that optimize the return on your time. As students, we can become so entrenched with just trying to make it through one class or one quarter. These short-term hurdles can often distract us from what really matters, life after the finish line. What happens after we make it out of college? Life doesn’t always hand us a syllabus to outline what’s to be expected, same as some professors you may have had. For some people the next step comes naturally…but for others, they can become bewildered by this whole new process.

Regardless of where you might stand, Michal Kawka offers a massive wealth of knowledge that will push you to reach your full potential. A side note, Michal is from Poland and speaks very fondly of home. The stories he shares are genuine and offer a glimpse into how people outside of the U.S. think. I remember how excited Michal was when he was first introduced to Marzena Terry, another Polish native. It was a treat to listen in on their conversation and I would suggest anyone stop by to talk to these two wonderful people.