Published: May 8, 2020

Jonathan Bosnich headshot
Outstanding Undergraduate Jonathan Bosnich

Jonathan Bosnich is a mechanical engineering student being awarded an Outstanding Undergraduate Award from both the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering. Learn more about him and his accomplishments in the Q&A below. 

NOAA senior design team
Jonathan Bosnich (left) with his senior design team sponsored by NOAA. 

Share about your background and what led you to study engineering.

I gained interest in engineering at a very young age. My dad is an electrical and firmware engineer and my mom is a mechanical engineer, both genuinely passionate about what they do. They made a concerted effort to inspire and encourage me to build stuff, solve problems and just be creative in general, and the main way they accomplished that goal was through homeschooling. I remember having competitions involving building the longest or strongest bridge with an allotted amount of pieces as a part of my schoolwork. So I guess, at the end of the day, engineering was just something I grew up with and always loved to do. Studying mechanical engineering at CU Boulder was almost a no-brainer.

However, I wasn’t content with just studying mechanical engineering, so I added a bachelor of arts in pure math as a second degree. I’ve loved math since being homeschooled, and my calculus teacher in high school was amazing! I knew I wanted to add math as a second major, which meant I had to choose between applied math in the College of Engineering and Applied Science and pure math in the College of Arts and Science. I chose pure math, because math theory was more foreign to me which made it more intriguing, and I wanted to get as broad an undergraduate education as possible. By doing theoretical math and mechanical engineering, I was able study the full spectrum of science and engineering, from practical application to abstract theory. I was also excited to take courses in philosophy, geopolitics, postmodernism and anthropology as a part of the core curriculum for the College of Arts and Science. I think choosing to study mechanical engineering and pure math was one of the best decisions I made in college! 

What does the award you are receiving mean to you?

I feel honored to receive the Outstanding Undergraduate Award, because it indicates that the work I’ve done is valued. Being recognized by those I look up to is super cool!

Jonathan riding a component design drill powered bike
Jonathan Bosnich riding the drill-powered kart he and his team designed during race day for his component design class. 

Share an accomplishment from your time at CU Boulder that you are proud of.

During my sophomore year, I was invited to substitute teach a Calculus 3 lecture at Boulder High School. Although I had many hours of tutoring experience, I was still pretty nervous, because this was the first time I would give a complete hour-long lecture to a full class, but as soon as the class started, all of those nerves vanished. I felt completely comfortable lecturing at the board, engaging with the students, applying pedagogical techniques and just having fun. The students gave me a round of applause at the end of the lecture, and several students contacted me afterward for private tutoring. That was definitely one of the best moments of my college career, and it also further solidified my desire to become a teacher.

How have you gotten involved throughout your college career? 

During my time at CU Boulder, I engaged in bio-inspired soft robotics research in Professor Sean Humbert's Bio-Inspired Perception and Robotics Lab, completed a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) under Dr. Derek Paley at the University of Maryland, researched Lie theory through an independent study with Professor Keith Kearnes in the math department, and completed another REU in the math department, where I studied algebraic combinatorics under Associate Professor Nathanial Thiem. The intellectual challenge of conducting research in advanced topics in engineering and math was most rewarding. I often felt overwhelmed with how to make progress in these research experiences because research can be very nonlinear and unpredictable, but that was ultimately the most valuable thing I learned. Since research is a challenging and unpredictable endeavor, patience and persistence are key.

I have also completed a mechanical engineering internship at Spectra Logic Corporation, was the systems engineer on my senior design team that is making a LiDAR scanner for NOAA and was the systems engineer for my component design team. The most rewarding thing about these experiences was the challenge of applying technical knowledge to an actual project.

In terms of service, I served as a missionary in Banja Luka, Bosnia, was a group leader for the TEAMS after-school program at two local elementary schools. Whether it was connecting with Bosnians who share my same heritage or goofing around with elementary school kids while doing fun engineering projects, getting to connect with people was the best part. I have also been offering individual tutoring since I was a sophomore in high school. In college, I tried to keep this going as a tutor for the Mathematics Academic Resource Center (MARC) and a learning assistant for Calculus 1 and Calculus 2 applied math classes. It is great seeing how happy students are when they finally understand a concept they’ve been struggling with.

I was also a member of the Engineering Honors Program; the math department’s math club; Pi Mu Epsilon, a national math honor society; and Phi Beta Kappa, a national academic fraternity. 

If you could relive any moment from your college career, what would it be?

The moment I would most want to relive is going on an expedition through the engineering center with Lindsay Erickson, my best friend from high school. 

What do you plan to pursue post-graduation? 

I am going to pursue a PhD in control theory. After that, I hope to teach at a relatively small university.

What is the impact you hope to have on the world?

My true passion is teaching. So even though I love research and developing new concepts or ideas, I think that the impact I hope to have on the world is inspiring the students that I teach.

Any closing remarks?

I’d like to thank all of my engineering and math professors; Mr. Scott Kindt, Mrs. Laurie Brandvold and Mrs. Jana Cline from my high school and my mom and dad for always encouraging me to explore any topic that piques my curiosity!