Robert Malate ’21 puts passion and persistence on the line – Harvard Gazette

He had the chance to put these language skills to good use during a summer spent teaching at a STEM camp in Suzhou, China. During the program, Malate taught 3D printing and computer programming to middle school students, and although the program was taught in English, he often had to tap into his language skills to get a point across.

“It forced me to learn the material better. Understanding how to explain the material to 11-year-olds was a new challenge. I couldn’t just use random jargon because English was not their primary language, ”he said. “So I had to figure out how to explain these concepts so that they could understand them.”

He was surprised how much he loved to teach. It was gratifying to see others light up when they grasped concepts or shared his enthusiasm for topics, he said. He therefore began to serve as a teacher-researcher for “Mechanical systems” (ES 125) and “Computational mechanics of solids and structures” (ES 128)..

The patience he gained as a teacher was especially helpful in a research environment.

Fascinated by the Robobee project, Malate joined the Harvard Microrobotics Lab of Rob wood, Charles River professor of engineering and applied sciences, in his first year. Although he was working remotely due to the pandemic, he helped design a computer model to simulate the bending of the little robot’s wings during flight.

It was a unique application of his interest in aeronautics and helped inspire his senior thesis project. Malate adds a buoyancy control unit to a robotic siren so that it can dive deeper and better perform underwater tasks, such as deep sea exploration.

After graduating, he plans to work internationally and focus on robotics companies that develop tools that can improve people’s lives.

Looking back, despite the culture shock he felt early in his college career and the disruption of having to return to Saipan midway through his studies, Malate found a perfect solution at SEAS.

“Harvard’s engineering is truly unique. Having the liberal arts environment has allowed me to learn about so many other fields and interact with people who are experts in those fields, ”he said. “Harvard has so many people from very different backgrounds who can tell you many different stories.”


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