PSEO Student Gets Full Ride to St. Thomas

Aaron Harpster
Aaron Harpster

Aaron Harpster awarded Science, Mathematics and Engineering Scholarship

Aaron Harpster, 18, of Eagan, Minnesota, was selected to receive a full-tuition Science, Mathematics and Engineering Scholarship to the University of St. Thomas. Located in the Twin Cities, St. Thomas is the largest private university in the state. Tuition and fees top $37,000 a year.

Home-schooled his last three years of high school, Aaron graduated this May after completing four semesters in the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program at Inver Hills Community College. Thanks to PSEO, he will be starting at St. Thomas in fall 2017 with nearly enough college credits to achieve junior status. He plans on majoring in mechanical engineering, but is considering a double major that would include computer science.

Aaron is open to continuing his education after earning his bachelor’s degree(s). At the moment, he has centered his career goals on becoming a mechanical engineer.

“I think it would be fun to work in the aerospace industry,” he said. “I can see myself working for Boeing. I definitely want to become an expert in some branch of engineering.”

More about PSEO…

The Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program allows high school students in 10th, 11th and 12th grade to earn credits that can meet high school graduation requirements while simultaneously earning transferable college credits. Dual credit courses offer high school students the opportunity to enroll in rigorous courses that further prepare them for postsecondary education. Inver Hills allows PSEO students to take courses held on the college’s main campus in Inver Grove Heights or online. Courses can be taken either full-time or part time. PSEO provides a wide variety of class offerings as well as the opportunity to pursue more challenging coursework than may be available at the high school level.

To learn more, visit: PSEO at Inver.

Joan Carter, PE, engineering faculty at Inver Hills, reported that Aaron excelled in his college-level coursework. “Aaron was in my Statics and Thermodynamics classes,” Joan said, “which are sophomore or junior-level engineering courses. I can tell you the scholarship is well deserved.”

Competition for the Science, Mathematics and Engineering Scholarship was intense with 150 students vying for the award. Aaron took tests in math, physics and chemistry. He did well enough to be one of 12 finalists who underwent a panel interview. Only two students received the full-tuition scholarship.

“I have to maintain a 3.5 GPA to keep the scholarship,” said Aaron, who decided against working while going to school. His entire focus will be on mastering his engineering studies.

While attending Inver PSEO classes, Aaron worked as a pre-calculus tutor and belonged to the Engineering Club. He enjoyed the small class sizes and how his college courses lasted for only one semester, unlike his high school classes, which stretched out over the entire year.

Aaron resides with his parents, Todd and Barb, and his younger sister, Anna, on the family’s vegetable farm and orchard in Eagan. The family has three dogs, Hans, a standard schnauzer, Rosie, a mini poodle, and Lily, a rat terrier-Shih Tzu mix. This summer, Aaron plans to work at home, taking care of the veggie gardens and fruit trees.

“Lighting up robotics, lighting up the world.”

Aaron on Mechanical Subteam

Aaron and Mechanical Subteam members

Aaron is a seasoned competitor on the Eagan High School FIRST Robotics Team 2220 Blue Twilight. Aaron’s father, Todd, a computer software architect, serves as a Team 2220 mentor.

Aaron is a member of the Mechanical Subteam, which is responsible for the “physical construction of the robot. This includes designing and building the drivetrain (wheels, motors and chassis), the manipulator (parts that interact with game pieces), and everything in between. Students learn the processes of CADing and construction while consistently gaining hands-on experience with design hardware, tools and machines.”

In 2017, Team 2220 won a number of awards at regional competitions, including the Safety Award sponsored by Underwriters Laboratories at the Central Illinois Regional and the  Chairman’s Award at the Wisconsin Regional. As a college student, Aaron can continue serving Team 2220 as a mentor.

Aaron on Team 2220

More about Team 2220…

Team 2220 was founded in 2006 with 20 members. Ten years later, Team 2220 has more than doubled the number of students and has more than 30 mentors within the FRC program. Since our rookie year, Team 2220 has started an umbrella organization called Eagan Robotics that encompasses both our FRC team and 16 FTC teams with more than 150 students and 60 mentors. Team 2220 takes part in several outreach events in the community, pursuing the spread of STEM and FIRST to all we touch. Team 2220 has made it our mission to light up robotics and to light up the world by spreading the message of FIRST as far as we can.

— Courtesy of Team 2220 website

Aaron Harpster Q & A

Aaron Harpster

Aaron Harpster

What is your greatest strength as a student?
I’m good at math and I pick things up quickly.

What has been your toughest challenge in life?
Taking the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME). You get three hours to answer 15 questions that are totally weird and complicated and like nothing you ever thought of before. I got four of the questions right before I ran out of time.

What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
In 2017, I became an Eagle Scout. I started scouting in the first grade as a Cub Scout.

What person has influenced you the most in life?
My dad. He’s my role model.

To learn more about Engineering Fundamentals at Inver Hills, contact:

Joan Carter, PE
Engineering Faculty
651-450-3251

To learn more about PSEO at Inver Hills, contact:

Mary Kadrlik
Enrollment Services
651-450-3661

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