Ryan Natzke


May 12, 2020


Lansing, IL

High School:

Thornton Fractional South

PNW degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (June 2010)
  • Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (June 2010)
  • Master of Science in Engineering, Interdisciplinary Engineering (June 2012)

Why did you choose your field of study?

I chose engineering due to my strong interests in math, cars, music, and problem solving. Engineering gives you skills to have a deeper understanding of all of those functions.

Why did you choose to attend PNW?

I chose PNW due to the fact their engineering degree had a great value for the cost when compared to other universities. It also helped that there was a path for me to get two engineering degrees.

What was your most rewarding academic experience at PNW?

My most rewarding academic experience was being a part of the SAE Mini-Baja Team. This extracurricular activity introduced me to a whole bunch of life lessons. It also helped tie in how what I learned in the classroom related to real-world challenges. Getting involved in such a team gave me excellent talking points in interviews. I also had a lot of fun getting to know a great bunch of people, developing relationships with professors, and learning in general how to lead a team.

Any specific classroom projects/learning experiences at PNW that were beneficial to you?

The SAE Mini-Baja experience was really beneficial as it provided a lot of real-world experiences. The Moonbuggy project was also really great to work on. I was also a Supplemental Instruction Leader, which was really rewarding in helping other students with classes, as well as, improve my knowledge and insight on a topic. To be honest, there were a lot of experiences that PNW had to offer for which I am truly grateful.

PNW activities/organizations:

  • SAE Mini-Baja
  • Moonbuggy (NASA Rover)
  • Supplemental Instruction Leader

Faculty and/or staff members who helped you along your journey at PNW:

I would like to thank Bill Baginski for being my advisor. He was really great at asking the right questions that guided me through college. I always knew what path to take after talking with Bill!

I would also like to thank Dr. Chenn Zhou for the guidance and opportunities that she provided me during my academic career. I would not have gotten my master’s without her, which I will forever be grateful.

I would also like to thank Rick Rickerson for the guidance, mentoring, helping me through the stress and late nights of Mini-Baja, and for being overall a great friend during my time at PNW.

Awards received at PNW:

  • “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges,” 2008 and 2009

Current company and position:

I am an Electrical Engineer at Rolls-Royce Corporation located in Indianapolis, IN. I design and test the Electronic Engine Controllers (EEC) and Engine Health Monitors (EHM) for gas turbine engines that are used on multiple aircraft, like the V-22 Osprey and the C-130J Hercules.

How has PNW helped prepare you for your future?

PNW provided all of the courses and extracurricular activities so that I had enough knowledge and experience to make the transition from student to full-time engineer an easy one. In my whole career, I have not felt unprepared for the technical challenges at hand.

Final thoughts about your PNW education:

I will admit that the coursework and extracurricular activities made college life stressful, but it was worth it. The experiences at PNW that I had really shaped me as an engineer and as an individual. I would encourage others to pursue extracurricular activities since they provide a great deal of experience and lots of lessons on how to overcome a variety of challenges.