Posted October 11, 2013

Temple Made: C. Mark Halberstadt

Video Production: Gina Benigno

Name: C. Mark Halberstadt

Year: Senior

School: College of Engineering

Major: Electrical engineering

Home town: Havertown, Pa.

Why I chose Temple: "My route to Temple was very circuitous. This is the second degree I'm working on. Although engineering was always something I wanted to do, I ended up graduating with a music degree back in 2007 in Colorado. I worked for about three years as a saxophone player in a wedding band in Denver, but I spent all of my free time thinking about math and watching math courses online. I finally decided to commit to getting a degree in engineering. What got me looking at Temple was the fact that so many people I knew went to Temple and really enjoyed it a lot. Everyone I talked to seemed to love Temple so much."

Tranformative moment: "I started working on Temple's NASA Lunabotics Competition teams in my freshman year. I came to Dr. John Helferty in the College of Engineering and asked him if there were any extracurricular projects I could be involved in. That was 2010. Now I'm co-team leader and electrical team leader. Lunabotics has been the defining experience of going to school at Temple.

"The NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition is a robotics competition run by NASA every May at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. There are a whole bunch of college teams who have designed and built robots. Each robot starts at one end of a rectangular arena, drives to the other end of the arena 10 meters away, picks up dirt, goes back to the starting area and dumps the dirt into a container — as many runs as you want in 10 minutes. The team that builds a robot that weighs the least and dumps the most dirt in 10 minutes wins the competition. There's no driver on board. There's no driver controlling it remotely. The goal is to design and build an autonomous robot.

"The competition is fun, but not as much fun as building the thing, testing the thing and solving the problems. That's what's kept me coming back. Being on the team is a great barometer. It tells you how much you've learned in school. I tell people who are interested in Lunabotics, you have to use information that you learned from every single engineering class you've taken in order to do the project. It makes the concepts that you learn in class real. It almost solidifies them. I've also learned how to be a manager, how to push people and how to refocus the team. Am I a good manager? I'll tell you at the end of the year!"

"Going back to school is the hardest thing I've ever done. But I've really enjoyed my time at Temple. I want to get into a Ph.D. program. I'm ready for the career I want to have."