Taking flight: Meet 2023 PNW graduate Azrael Jimenez

November 28, 2023
Azrael Jimenez sits in a baja car

As a child riding in his parents’ car, Azrael Jimenez, ’23, would wonder how vehicles were able to stop. That interest in brake systems started him on the path to earning a bachelor of science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the College of Engineering and Sciences at Purdue University Northwest (PNW).

Jimenez spent the majority of his free time at PNW as part of the Baja Racing student organization. The organization tasks students with designing and building an off-road vehicle to compete against other schools. He served as vice president of the organization before transitioning to the suspension lead, where he was responsible for leading a small team to design a suspension system for the vehicle. As part of the team, he participated in several SAE Baja competitions throughout the country. In addition to the Baja Racing team, Jimenez was part of PNW’s Honors College.

While the Dyer native participated in several internships during his time at PNW, it was his internship at Blue Origin that solidified his desire to work in the aerospace industry.

After graduation, Jimenez hopes to secure a position in the aerospace industry and is currently interviewing at Blue Origin and SpaceX.

Why did you choose to major in mechanical engineering?

“When I looked into engineering and researched the different disciplines I realized mechanical engineering was the best for me in terms of not limiting myself. There are some specialized fields like electrical, chemical and petroleum engineering, but I didn’t want to put myself into a specialized position or job. In my eyes, mechanical engineering is kind of the jack of all trades and you can pretty much choose where you’d like to go with this degree.”

How do you think your involvement in campus organizations and activities helped define your success at PNW?

“Just being part of the Baja team opened a lot of doors for me as far as networking – it’s how I got my internship at Blue Origin. It also gave me a lot of experience aside from technical skills. Being the suspension lead of our team involved figuring out people’s strengths and weaknesses and where they work best, which is a crucial role in almost any engineering position. Fundamentals and classroom knowledge are important, but my experience on Baja forced me to think outside the box and gave me confidence in what I’m doing.”

What did you like most about the Mechanical Engineering program at PNW?

“I liked the class sizes. At PNW, the smaller class sizes let you get a lot closer with your professors. The professors are also really passionate about the subjects they’re teaching.”

Did you experience any challenges while attending PNW?

“One of the biggest challenges for me was time management. I would estimate that I worked on Baja almost 40 hours a week, each week. So, having to juggle Baja, classes and internships came down to time management. Also, having a great group of friends to work on homework and study for exams with really helped make it a lot easier and less challenging than doing it on your own.”

What words of advice would you share with prospective students looking to attend PNW?

“Get involved. Join an organization. It opens up a lot of networking opportunities.”

Was there anyone at PNW who inspired or encouraged you along the way?

Rick RickersonRick Rickerson

laboratory administrator, College of Technology

“He was the driving force behind the Baja team. He gave us the courage to try new things and not to fear the unknown. He wouldn’t give us the answer, but he would push us in the right direction to figure it out ourselves.”

Azrael Jimenez sits in a baja car

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