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Ritchie Students Share Experiences from Quarantine

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Aurora VanDam

Ritchie School Student Reporter

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As schools around the state are moving back to being fully remote and Denver tightens up its COVID-19 restrictions we wanted to share some Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science student experiences from their time in quarantine. Our students, though dealing with an unprecedented experience, created some lasting memories and utilized their skills to find unique ways to stay busy. We are excited to share what they were able to accomplish and look forward to seeing what everyone will get done during the winter break.

Lesley Figueroa

During a summer in quarantine, Lesley Figueroa—a fourth year computer engineering student—kept herself plenty busy with an internship at Lockheed Martin, running long distance, and cooking plant-based recipes. She spent her quarantine back home with her family in Centennial, Colorado.

Figueroa worked as a software engineer intern at Lockheed Martin from June to September at their Boulder office. During her internship, she mainly worked on building satellites. When she wasn’t working for her internship, Figueroa began running half-marathon lengths during quarantine to keep herself active and to provide a new challenge for herself. Now that school is back in session, she still tries to run 5-7 miles every other day. In the staying-at-home spirit of things Figueroa also spent a lot of time reading, non-fiction and fiction, and watching Netflix documentaries.

Like many others during quarantine, Figueroa spent a lot of time trying new recipes, specifically plant-based recipes. Since she had the extra time at home, she finally felt like she had the freedom to learn more cooking techniques and invest in eating healthy off a plant-based diet. She was able to learn more about the diet and implement her cooking into her daily routine.

Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith

Fourth year electrical engineering student Jordan Smith spent most of his quarantine working at an internship with Lockheed Martin. Smith worked as a system engineering intern in the aerospace branch of Lockheed Martin in Centennial, Colorado. While aerospace wasn’t the original path Smith pictured for himself in engineering, it allowed him to get better experience in systems engineering as opposed to an electrical engineering focus. While the company as a whole was virtual, only the interns and their managers were allowed back in the offices to give the five interns a more wholesome internship experience.

On top of his internship with Lockheed Martin, Smith also kept himself busy conducting research with the Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging (KIHA). He’s been working at the lab for about three years, having gotten involved his sophomore year at DU. Smith had every other Friday at Lockheed Martin off so he would spend those weekends at KIHA assisting with research. Smith has been helping a neurology professor by working on the engineering side of the research, which is also a part of Smith’s senior design project.

Outside of research and a busy internship, Smith spent his down time playing videogames such as Minecraft, or working out by doing tae kwon do at home. He is a part of the tae kwon do club at DU. He and his team were getting ready to head to a national competition, unfortunately it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the competition being canceled, Smith still practices at home at least six times a week.

Chad Monteith

A first year computer science student at the Ritchie School this year, Chad Montieth enjoyed a quarantine at home with his family last spring and summer in Parker, Colorado. Similar to his peers, Monteith stayed busy with an internship at Lockheed Martin working as a network technician intern.

In his off time, Monteith practiced his piano skills. He has been playing the piano and organ since high school, but was able to take the time to learn new music during the lockdown. Now living in the dorms on campus, Monteith keeps a portable keyboard in his room to continue playing. When not practicing piano, he likes to play real-time strategy games on his computer.

In addition to enjoying some creative downtime over quarantine Monteith and his family welcomed a new pet into the home, a pet bunny! A slight deviation from the quarantine puppy many others adopted, they bought a bunny for his younger sister but the whole family enjoyed its company during the lockdown.

Cortney LeNeave

 Cortney LeNeave, a mechanical engineering master’s student, spent his quarantine in Denver with his wife and their new puppy, Margo. LeNeave stayed fairly busy through the lockdown with his research with professor Yun-Bo Yi, PhD. Luckily he was able to continue working on his research from home, while also taking online classes with DU.

Margo, Cortney LeNeave's puppy

Like many in the U.S., LeNeave figured that being home full-time meant it was the perfect time to get a puppy. LeNeave and his wife got a mini French bulldog, named Margo, from a breeder. He said it was fun to raise a puppy while being home over quarantine, and it gave him an excuse to get outside more in order to exercise the new pup.

Outside of work and training Margo, LeNeave reignited his passion for playing guitar and making music. He spent a lot of time learning music theory and teaching himself how to play new songs on the guitar. LeNeave additionally used his background in mechanical engineering to teach himself how to build new audio effect hardware. He successfully built three new audio effect machines and had fun experimenting with making music.

In order to stay in touch with family who live across the country, LeNeave and his loved ones founded a Friday night ritual of watching old Sherlock Holmes movies together virtually. He said it was a fun way to feel like they were all spending time together. Another fun way his family stayed connected through lockdown was by purchasing Nintendo Switches for the whole family. Everyone in his immediate family purchased one so they could connect and play games together. If he wasn’t digitally connecting with his family, he could be found watching reruns of “The Office” on Netflix.

Our students all experienced quarantine in different ways, yet they found inventive and creative ways to stay occupied through these uncertain times. As the country tightens up restrictions again try to stay safe and healthy this Winter quarter. If things do begin to worsen we are glad that our students will use their innovation to lead to some amazing experiences.

  • Kayle Migaki infront of Project X-ITE house

    Kayle Migaki, undergraduate electrical engineering student, participated in Project X-ITE's XLR8 summer program for her company OneKindCup. 

  • Duncan Ferguson working on a boat

    Duncan Ferguson, data science graduate student, spent his summer boatbuilding. 

  • Max Cobb's caught fish

    Max Cobb, undergraduate mechanical engineering student, spent time fly fishing and working on learning how to tie fishes. 

  • Angel Fernandes's photo of the University of Denver

    Angel Fernandes, undergraduate computer science student, took summer classes and captured this beautiful picture of campus. 

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