Jonathan Brassard '18, BS Physics and Political Science
Hometown: Moriah, N.Y.
My ultimate goal is to reduce the cost of getting cargo and people into space. I envision a working economy in orbit in my lifetime and, perhaps, even one that reaches farther out into the solar system.
Coming here was a first step toward that goal. Clarkson is respected by STEM schools, and the University also did the most to meet my financial needs. I chose to major in physics, because I was interested in researching superconductors. Since coming here, I added the political science major and shifted my focus from superconductors to the physics of getting things into space.
High cost is a barrier to getting something into space, and, currently, only companies and large governments can deal with this challenge. However, there are feasible options that could bring down the cost dramatically within my lifetime. If we can do that, then a lot of exciting things will become possible, such as easy transportation to the moon and nearby planets, getting more satellites into orbit and mining energy from space. All of this will have a huge impact on the people on Earth and on our understanding of the universe.
We'll need to overcome a lot of engineering challenges to make it happen, but there are a lot of motivated people already working on the problem. I want to be one of them. I'm very optimistic and excited about our future in space. I prefer to see activity in space conducted by private organizations and profit-seeking firms, because space should not just be the playground of governments. Think about the commercial possibilities in communication and technology, as well as in mining resources. One day we may even put a large solar-energy apparatus into orbit.
Clarkson has helped me to make connections with some brilliant people, who are working on problems that interest me. I'm a McNair Scholar, so I'm getting the advice I will need to make smart decisions about which programs I should pursue when the time comes for graduate-school applications. I'm hoping to study space operations or space systems, with the broader goal of working on a flight control team.
Clarkson provides many avenues for personal growth as well. I'm involved with the Honors Program and its different forms of government. I'm also an active member of the Physics Club and the Clarkson University College Republicans, and I regularly attend InterVarsity Christian Fellowship meetings and events.
In the spring semester of 2016, I interned at the New York State Assembly. I chose my representative because he had studied physics as an undergrad and then moved on to law. I was interested in how he managed to balance the cold reasoning involved in much of physics with the keen social intuition demanded by a life in politics. I learned a lot from the experience and recommend it highly to anyone who would like to see, from the inside, how state government works.