Advancing Robotics and Space Exploration through Co-op, Labs, and Clubs
Garrit Strenge, E’24, computer engineering and computer science, has had three co-ops at Busck Space Propulsion, Morse Corp., and Amazon Robotics. He also conducted research in the Movement Neuroscience Lab, and is active in clubs such as Students for the Exploration of Space.
Garrit Strenge, E’24, computer engineering and computer science, grew up loving programming, as well as space exploration and NASA. The combined major stood out to him because it combines engineering and computer science. Strenge says, “When you combine them, you understand high- and low-level processes in the computer, which strengthens both aspects.”
Strenge mentions his first-year discrete structures class as one that challenged him a lot. He attributes his professor’s excitement for the subject and the class with challenging students to think, encouraging questions while being approachable. “It was really rewarding and set the tone for future classes.”
Co-op has linked Strenge’s skills with his love for space. On his first co-op at Busck Space Propulsion, he was trusted to do software work on his own and learned a lot. “Planning your first co-op can be tricky. I got a callback for the interview on the last day of the semester. I thought all the cool co-ops were gone but then [here comes this] company that does space propulsion and satellites. Growing up with a love of space, it doesn’t get much cooler than that.”
On his second co-op, with defense contractor Morse Corp, he focused on software on a team working with big data and artificial intelligence. “They had a lot of other co-ops, the teams were young and it felt like a family. I traveled to Washington D.C. for events, they treated me like a full-time employee.”
Strenge’s research experience at Northeastern has mostly been with the Movement Neuroscience Lab. “I have no background in neuroscience. I went to the research fair in my first year and got to talk with them. I work as a software developer for the lab. That has involved some robotics and human-robotic interaction—how do we allow them to interact in a way that’s not scary but feels natural and smooth.” He has also worked with the RIVeR robotics lab at Northeastern.
Outside of the labs, Strenge explores his research passions of robotics and space through student organizations, as well as his leadership interests. “I’m in a few [student organizations]. Students for the Exploration of Space, which is a parent org for a lot of space projects at school.” Strenge is the team lead for a Mars Rover. “The past two years we traveled to the Utah desert to compete against teams from around the world.” He also participates in HKN, the engineering honors society that helps tutor other students, and the Student Activity Council that coordinates clubs for the College of Engineering.
Strenge believes that clubs and research are a great way to find community at Northeastern. “Northeastern is a relatively big school, there’s so many opportunities waiting for you to take them. It is the kind of school where you get out of it what you put in. If you work hard and have passion for it, the opportunities are there, students are always looking for participants and leaders in clubs, while professors look for [student] researchers for their lab.”
Now at Amazon robotics on his third co-op, Strenge feels that he found the capstone experience of his co-ops and club work. He says, “I’m working on research and development projects where we try and ask the questions about applying cutting-edge robotics research to industry. In my co-op specifically, my work has been focused on robotics solutions to enhance customer and associate experiences by enabling faster and safer order fulfillment.” Looking to the future, he says, “I’m torn between the idea of doing a master’s degree in robotics or a master’s in business, but I’m leaning toward going into industry directly. The co-op program gave me the work experience and connections necessary to go quickly into a full-time role after graduation.”