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Outstanding graduate launches structural engineering career


A man in an ASU polo poses against a brick wall

Outstanding mechanical engineering graduate Zachary Norris achieved top honors while competing in engineering competitions on a national level and mentoring students in the NASA L'SPACE program. He is set to join Northrop Grumman in Chandler, Arizona, as a structural engineer after graduation.

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December 01, 2023

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.

Zachary Norris is being honored by the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering as an Outstanding Graduate for his contributions to the community. 

Norris’ journey into engineering was kindled during high school when he worked as a bike mechanic. His fascination with mechanical systems evolved into a passion for understanding the practical applications of engineering.

Norris chose ASU for its compatibility with his academic interests and Arizona roots, as well as the Fulton Schools’ excellent reputation for producing engineers ready for any opportunity.

“One interesting thing about mechanical engineering is how varied all of the coursework and career opportunities are,” Norris says. “As my friends and I are entering the workforce, I don’t think I’ve heard of any specific job role twice. The program wasn’t giving us a specific playbook so much as it was teaching us to think as engineers.”

Norris’ college experience was enriched by his involvement in various student organizations, where he took on leadership roles. As part of the Air Devils student organization, he and the team finished in the top 10 at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Design/Build/Fly competition. Norris considers the placement to be one of his biggest achievements during his undergraduate career. He also went on to serve as president of the team and conduct research with Timothy Takahashi, the Air Devils’ advisor and an aerospace engineering professor of practice in the School for the Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, one of the seven Fulton Schools.

“Dr. Takahashi has a wealth of knowledge with his combined academic and industry experience,” Norris says. “I don’t think I go a week without referencing something that Dr. Takahashi taught me, whether in my job, capstone course or in managing the time and resources of a group like Air Devils.”

Outside the classroom, Norris also dedicates his time to mentoring students in the NASA L'SPACE program, where he supports teams working on spaceflight mission concepts, emphasizing the importance of teamwork in solving complex problems.

Upon graduation, Norris is set to join Northrop Grumman in Chandler, Arizona, as a structural engineer. He envisions working on impactful projects that leverage his engineering skills to make a positive difference in the world.

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