My name is Zach Duda and I am a 23 year old electrical/hardware engineer from Clifton, Virginia. I received my Bachelor's of Science degree in Engineering, with minors in Mathematics and Business from James Madison University in May 2017. I have two older sisters, three younger brothers, and a niece. I am an avid golfer and adventure enthusiast. I love to travel and I spend most of my money on experiences. It is said that travel is the only thing that makes us richer and I firmly believe that.
As an engineer, I believe in more than solving problems with a gifted understanding of math and science- I chose this career path because it involves creativity, problem-solving and allows me to have a real-world, tangible impact on the world around me. I believe in going above and beyond the minimum amount of work, and taking responsibility to lead when given the opportunity. I aim to directly impact and inspire those around me and develop innovative solutions to the complex problems surrounding our world today. During my time at James Madison University, I learned how to manage projects given a certain budget, work in teams, think outside the box, and most importantly interact and communicate with people. I want to use my education to make an impact in the world.
As a Madison Engineer, I have taken part in several projects throughout my academic career. Here are all of the projects I have been a part of.
Developing a Cold Plasma Medical Sterilization System
Sponsor: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
As part of a 2 year long capstone project, I am researching and developing a cold plasma sterilization system to be applicable to surfaces, medical devices and skin. We are mainly working with a group within NASA known as XMC, or Exploration Medical Capabilities. The goal is to develop a cold plasma sterilization system that could potentially be used aboard the Orion Spacecraft for long duration space exploration missions to Mars and distant asteroids, with the ultimate goal of reducing their payload. The issue to be addressed is that all of the small medical equipment that is carried on a mission — scalpels, forceps, those sorts of items — are one-time use. The cost of payload in LEO, or Low Earth Orbit, is about $10,000 per pound, which would increase exponentially for a mission to Mars. To add a little perspective, NASA carries anywhere from 200-400 kg of sanitary wipes for redundancy, which could be greatly decreased with a sanitize and reuse strategy possible with this system.
Cold plasma applications in medical sterilization is an emerging field of research. The project encompasses several disciplines within engineering, including electrical engineering, materials science, mechanics of materials, and systems engineering. With regards to sterilization, the system must be able to sterilize specific bacteria, such as E. coli and the shingles virus. The team is building a custom integrated circuit, machining the necessary parts, and minimizing weight as much as possible. The goal of the system is to determine the optimal conditions to operate the system that would result in the highest sterilization of bacteria. The conditions that would be varied in the design of experiments were the frequency, voltage, and distance from the housing subsystem to the substrate subsystem. Once the optimal conditions were determined, a new prototype could be developed that operates strictly at the specified conditions.
Human Powered Vehicle Design
In Conjuction with JMU's Overcoming Barriers
A human powered vehicle was built specifically for our 8 year old client named Michael. Michael was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age, specifically spastic hemiplegia. Hemiplegia is where one half of the body is affected, in this case the left side of his body. The human powered vehicle was specifically tailored for him, taking in to account his condition. This project really exposed me to the design process on a larger scale. We conducted stakeholder interviews with Michael and his mother, watched him workout to see his strength, and took his body measurements to tailor it specifically to him. Unlike my freshman year project, this project had a lot of failures, which was a hard pill to swallow. I learned a valuable lesson that failure is an inevitable part of engineering design, and it made me a better engineer in the process. Within the project, I focused on the propulsion subsystem and the fork of the human powered vehicle, which is a part of the steering subsystem.
Developing a Childrens Toy for Harrisonburg Children
Exposure to the design process
In order to get exposed to the engineering design process and designing specifically for a client, the goal was to develop a children's toy using wood. The clients were local Harrisonburg elementary school students who were brought in to test the products, as shown above. We conducted stakeholder interviews, developed system requirements, and manufactured a prototype to deliver to the clients. The children were able to keep the toys, which was very rewarding.
Developing a Cold Plasma Sterilization System
Digital Storytelling of the team's progress through the first year of the project.
Northrop Grumman Corporation
I am a participant in the Pathways Program, a three year rotational program within the company.
James Madison University
For my senior year, I served as one of the student assistants in our newly renovated Fabrication Lab. Contained within the fabrication lab are all of the tools needed for woodworking or machining parts, such as band saws, drill presses, and much more. My day-to-day activities included assisting engineers in operating the machines, maintaining a clean and safe work environment, and keeping the machines in operation. I reported to the Lab Coordinator every day after work about the condition of the room and the equipment.
Northrop Grumman Corporation
My time at Northrop Grumman was extraordinary — they take pride in providing their interns with a great summer internship and value every employee. Throughout my internship, I was given a lot of responsibility and leadership experience. I was able to use my experience in conducting background research and determining possible solutions to a problem. I served as Project lead on several projects within Facilities management team, such as ice mitigation tactics that abide by LEED Standards, Uninterruptable Power Source Room Additions, and much more. I composed and presented my research to my bosses and management, who would ultimately fund and carry out my projects. When certain projects received funding, I was able to assist Project Management in composing project schedules within MS Project.
I was able to take a leadership role of multidisciplinary teams throughout my internship, which was invaluable experience.
Skanska USA Building
Skanska was the construction management company tasked with building the new College of Health and Behavioral Sciences Building on campus (JMU East Tower). I was brought on to the project at the very beginning, when demolition of the old structure was occurring. Construction management is a very fast-paced work environment that involves constant interaction with stakeholders and people, whether it be the architects at EYP or the subcontractors on the project. I became very familiar with engineering drawings and standard engineering practices. I was also exposed to LEED procedures and sustainable design as a whole. I was given a lot of responsibility, and really mastered the craft of time management. Skanska provided me with the experience of interacting with people on a daily basis, which I believe is an integral part of engineering and solving complex problems
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.
Wegmans of Fairfax was the highest grossing branch of the company during my 5 year tenure. At Wegmans, we pride ourselves on providing excellent customer service. Wegmans is a Fortune 500 company and #4 on the 100 best companies to work for. My job taught me a lot about interacting with people because it involved continuous interaction with customers and co-workers in a fast-paced environment. Wegmans cared about my development and encouraged me to set goals for myself professionally, which I continue to do to this day.
Optimization and Modeling
Matlab, Simulink, LINGO
PNA, power meter, DMM, milliohmeter, oscilloscope, spectrum analyzer, etc.
Managing and leading project teams
James Madison University
B.S. in Engineering
Minors in Business and Mathematics
Class of 2017
Awards & honors
Dean's Honor List
Fall 2015, Spring 2016
President's Honor List
Fall 2016, Spring 2017
I want to see the world and experience everything it has to offer. Check out where I've been!
The rumors about rain everyday turned out to be true- the adventure still continued. From Dublin to Dingle, and many cities in between, Ireland was one of the most beautiful countries I have seen. I learned a lot about my Irish heritage and immersed myself in the culture by staying in B&Bs with some amazing people and hosts. Driving on the opposite side of the road was weird, but the learning curve was quick. There was one hiccup involving a bridge, so I highly recommend buying the insurance if you want to drive in Ireland- it's a lifesaver.
The southern hemisphere was something special. Most of the photos I had taken looked fake, but I promise they're real. If you haven't been to Australia/New Zealand, I highly recommend you change that. It was one of the most breathtaking and unforgettable adventures of my life. For all adrenaline junkies similar to myself, Queenstown needs to be on your bucket list. The view from the Queenstown Hill hike is pictured here.
Peru is home to perhaps one the greatest engineering marvels and wonders of the world in Machu Picchu. I hiked 43 km over 4 days on the Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu. There truly are no words to describe it, and I don't even think the pictures could do it justice. It truly is a wonder of the world. 4 days of camping and carrying 40 pounds on your back really makes you appreciate everything you have.