Published: March 14, 2015
Alex Mault helps students in lab

A professor who met him during his freshman year calls him "the absolute best and brightest" engineering student he's ever met. But when junior Alex Mault began his career at CU-Boulder, he technically wasn't an engineering student at all.

Mault said he fully appreciated the irony of the situation when he was passed over for admission to the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and placed into the College of Arts and Sciences instead. "I was not accepted to an engineering college because I had been too busy practicing engineering to maintain a perfect GPA," he said, adding that admissions told him there was a chance he would be able to transfer to engineering one day.

Mault is the co-founder of Reflexion Health, a health care company that is designing a 3D depth sensor they hope will make physical therapy more fun, effective and affordable. According to co-founder Ravi Komatireddy, Mault "single-handedly architected our big data infrastructure, application programing interface to access health data, and modified the computer vision algorithms related to accurately tracking joint motion using the Kinect 3D camera."

So from the beginning of his CU-Boulder career, Mault dedicated himself to two goals -- earn his way into the College of Engineering, and see Reflexion Health succeed. He pulled long hours on both classwork and his responsibilities as acting chief technology officer of Reflexion.

His efforts did not go unnoticed by his electrical engineering teachers. Associate professor Robert McLeod had Mault in a freshman projects class nicknamed "the clock class."

"Within the first week, it was obvious that Alex knew more about the topic than I did, by a lot," McLeod said. He added that Mault finished his clock project in half the allotted time and soon began coming to all of the lab's sections to help other students. McLeod soon enlisted Mault to help assemble a group of undergraduates to serve as teaching assistants for the clock class.

Mault said he was thankful for the kindness of his ECEE professors.

"They didn't care what admissions had said, and as long as I continued to show a desire for knowledge, they happily taught me," he said.

By the end of his sophomore year, both of Mault's ventures came to fruition. He was officially accepted into the College of Engineering, and Reflexion received $7.5 million in venture capital funding.

But with that success came a tough decision. Mault received a job offer to become a full-time executive at Reflexion, but he knew he would have to leave school to do it. He said it was then that he questioned what an engineer is at their core and what he wanted to be.

"I looked at the Engineering Honors community I had been surrounded by for the past two years," he said. "I loved the random, communal projects from building a full second story in a dorm room, to building a 30 MPH RC car from spare parts in our electronics kits, to impromptu 1 a.m. quantum physics lectures from fellow classmates."

With that, Mault turned down the job offer and embraced his final years as an engineering student. As his junior year began, McLeod asked Mault to be a TA for the clocks class. Professor Li Shang also invited him to serve as a TA for his Digital Design Lab course.

For most engineering students, the clocks class is their first introduction to electrical engineering. Mault said he loves showing students that electrical engineering is something they can become passionate and excited about.

"As the final project approached, students who excelled began asking the question I love to hear: 'Do you think this is possible?'" Mault said. "My response was always the same: 'Let's find out!'"