Nathan Cheong '18 COE

Students seated testing Mario Kart video game program

Creating Solutions for Real-World Problems

Baseball and video games: Two things you might expect to hear from a senior talking about his college experience, but usually not about his academics. For Nathan Cheong ’18, they have been central to his achievements in the College of Engineering and have inspired solutions that carry real-world impact.

During the summer of 2017, Nathan participated in the Harris Summer Innovation Program, which challenges self-directed, multidisciplinary teams of students to identify a societal or technological need and pursue solutions. The experience is designed to mirror the practice of professional engineers. The Harris Corporation named and endowed the program through a gift of $1.25 million in the fall of 2017.

With a team of three fellow engineering majors, Nathan set out to address the rapid growth of Tommy John injuries in youth baseball, which can sideline players and lead to surgery. Using sensors and microcontrollers, the team developed a “Smart Baseball,” able to measure pitching metrics like spin rate and velocity, so that young players could maintain their speed without pronating their wrists.

“We had great freedom in the work, but also great responsibility,” he says. “When we hit a wall, we had to look at the problem from another angle and move on.”

Nathan applied these lessons again during his senior year, as he worked on a capstone project that used the popular video game Mario Kart to help children with attention-deficit disorders improve their focus.

Nathan is now launching his career as a systems engineer at Harris Corporation—an opportunity spawned from his visit to the company’s headquarters as part of the Harris Summer Innovation Program.


Click here to read more stories like Nathan's and explore the impact of philanthropy at Villanova.

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