A thirst for knowledge began at home

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A. Sue Weisler | photographer

Kozak: A thirst for knowledge began at home

Jeff Kozak first fell in love with engineering as a preschooler.

“My father was in the Air Force, and I used to stand in our backyard on base and watch the F-16’s take off,” says Kozak, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “I must have been all of 5, but I remember thinking, ‘I want to know how that works.’”

His fascination with the inner workings of airplanes would lead Kozak to aerospace engineering in college, where he found a second passion—teaching.

“I worked as a laboratory manager and really came to enjoy helping my fellow students with their projects and seeing how my ability to assist others could make a real difference,” he adds.

When looking for a university to begin his teaching career, following completion of his doctorate at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Kozak wanted to find an institution that would allow him to practice his twin passions of engineering and teaching. Luckily, he had to look no farther for ideas than his own family.

“My sister was attending the biological sciences program at RIT and mentioned the university’s emphasis on teaching and its strong engineering programs,” Kozak reflects. “After doing some research, I found that the school fit perfectly with my professional goals, and I was very pleased when I had the opportunity to begin my professional career here.”

Kozak teaches a number of courses in the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s aerospace option, including introduction to aerospace engineering and aerodynamics, and he is also a faculty advisor to the METEOR project, a student-led team that is attempting to build and launch a space satellite.

“RIT’s combination of experiential learning, undergraduate research and focus on teaching provides our engineering students with the skills and abilities they will need to succeed in their professional careers after college,” says Kozak.

Through all of his endeavors, Kozak tries to remember how hard his family worked to put him and his siblings through college and works to provide his students with a first-class education.

“My parents put great value in a college education and I attempt to honor their efforts on my behalf by providing the best education I can to my students,” Kozak notes. “Given this, I am incredibly honored to be selected for the Eisenhart Award because it is given by students and shows I am making an impact.”