Hayden Nichols ’20

B.S. in mechanical engineering

“Receiving the scholarship was validation that I had potential and that my ambitions would result in the change I wanted to make in the world. Somebody saw potential in the person I wanted to be.”

Attending a nationally ranked university on a full-ride scholarship has opened many doors for WVU junior Hayden Nichols.

Nichols, a WVU Foundation Scholar from Elkiew, W.Va., has had multiple opportunities to expand his knowledge on robotics.

Nichols had little experience in high school with engineering and robotics but chose to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering because it offers a broad scope pertaining to mechanics.

“My studies so far have guided me to gain a fundamental understanding of many topics that are useful to analyze and engineer a wide variety of systems in almost any industry. I felt that studying mechanical engineering would enable me, as an engineer, to have a broad understanding of all aspects of a system, including thermal properties, mechanisms and machines, materials, and controls.”

Foundation Scholars receive money to cover college costs for four years of undergraduate studies, including tuition and fees, room and board and a book stipend. They also receive a stipend to be used to study abroad or academic enhancement opportunities such as internships. Since being named a Foundation Scholar, he has had the opportunity to attend Foundation events where he has networked with professors who do research in robotics.

“Early in my college career, one of them offered me an opportunity to do undergraduate research and work in a robotics lab. My research work so far has provided me valuable and practical experience and allowed me to work with various subfields of robotics to discover what I am most interested in. Being a Foundation Scholar likely factored into me being offered such an opportunity.”

After graduation, he plans to continue researching robotics. He wants to apply and engineer robotic systems to increase efficiency and safety to all aspects of multiple industries and life.

“Our lifestyles stand to be improved by robotics as well; enormous efforts have been made to automate things like housecleaning and making meals, and I want to have a part in further advancing the way we live.”

He believes the healthcare and agriculture industries are two important industries that could be optimized and streamlined by autonomous robotic systems. Nichols wants to drive the change in those industries to create better use of resources and provide better products and services to consumers.

“Receiving the scholarship was validation that I had potential and that my ambitions would result in the change I wanted to make in the world. Somebody saw potential in the person I wanted to be.”