30 Under 30: Brandon Killian
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High-school senior Brandon Killian has served as president for the last two years on his school’s FIRST Robotics team, which won the Rookie All-Star Award at the FIRST Robotics San Diego Regional last year and later advanced to the International competition in St. Louis.
After carrying a 4.7 grade-point average at Santana High while taking seven Advanced Placement classes, Brandon was accepted to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA, where this fall he will begin studying engineering. His ultimate goal is to become a mechanical engineer, with an electronics twist.
“I’m thinking about mechatronics, so I can combine a little electrical engineering, too,” Killian said. “I’ve been wanting to go there [Cal Poly] for a few years, since I found out about it when I was a sophomore. When I got in, I knew that’s where I wanted to go.”
The experience with robotics whetted his appetite for the mechatronics field. “Last year was the first year that our school had a team. I was one of the founding members, and we did really well,” Brandon said. “You get six weeks to build a robot. Last year we had to build one that could shoot basketballs, and this year we had to build one that could throw Frisbees. There’s a 120-lb weight limit and all kinds of restrictions. That definitely played a part in my desire for mechatronics. I’m really interested in applying what I learned in my Project Lead the Way classes to real-world problems.”
An Eagle Scout, Brandon currently works part-time as a cable technician at Shop Floor Automations (La Mesa, CA), a distributor of shop-floor networking solutions. His mom works there as an accountant.
“Engineering has been Brandon’s lifelong passion,” wrote Shop Floor Automations Operations Manager John Campbell, who nominated Brandon for 30 Under 30. “He has always been interested in figuring out how things work. As a kid he continually disassembled and reassembled things. When it came time for him to choose what high school to attend, he was drawn towards Santana High School because of the Engineering Program offered there, and went through the PLTW [Project Lead The Way] Engineering Pathway there.
“He was very inspired by these classes to learn what it took to become an engineer, and sought out opportunities to enhance his skills,” Campbell noted. Among his accomplishments, Brandon won third place in the Technical Drafting Competition at the SkillsUSA California State Championships; won Best In Show at the Del Mar Fair for Technical Drafting; and took first place in the California Chevron Design Challenge State Championships. “In these competitions he learned the complexity of solving real-world problems, and was further drawn to the idea of becoming an engineer.”
Brandon’s involvement in manufacturing goes well beyond competitions, Campbell noted, including being nominated by his teachers to become a student ambassador for the Engineering Pathway to help students see some of opportunities available to them. As student ambassador, Brandon also has visited Sacramento to meet with state senators and assemblymen promoting technical education programs.
“Everything that he has done in high school has only given him a sample of what the field of engineering has to offer and he has complete confidence that becoming a mechanical/manufacturing engineer is the career path that is right for him,” Campbell said. “Although he has not been with Shop Floor Automations that long, he has impressed me since day one as someone who will be solving the problems of our future and I feel a sense of comfort knowing people like him are coming into the job market.” ME