By Debra Jacob
At age 16, Nathan Thomas has completed a stellar undergraduate career.
This spring, Thomas graduated with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and was named Outstanding Undergraduate in Electrical Engineering at FIU for Spring 2021. He will continue his studies at FIU this summer in pursuit of a master’s and Ph.D.
“Applied physics is my passion,” he says, which includes artificial intelligence, big data programming and visualization.
An engaged student on campus, Thomas was also enrolled at FIU’s Honors College and was a learning assistant in an engineering economy class. In the summer of 2018, he completed an apprenticeship at the Canopius Syndicate in Lloyds of London, where he shadowed underwriters in the Marine Hull, Cargo, Liability and Energy Insurance departments and wrote reports to assist the underwriters. Thomas also was a panel speaker for Miami Dade College’s Idea Center at the eMerge Americas technological conference where he spoke about his experience in a cutting-edge blockchain and cryptocurrency class.
Born in Mission Viejo, California, and living in Newport Beach, Thomas was homeschooled most of his young academic career. He later spent a few semesters at the University of California, Irvine, and then moved to Miami, where he went on to Miami Dade College to complete his AA in mathematics.
Thomas was accepted at the University of Miami, FIU and Georgia Tech, but chose to attend FIU for what he says is an excellent electrical engineering curriculum and the chance to stay close to home.
“The opportunity that FIU gave me is second to none,” he says, “in terms of research, funding and teaching.”
His group participation, a strong learning factor, he says, was not at all compromised by the pandemic. All of his classes involved groups of four people each, online, including his senior design project on universal digital sensors.
Thomas was a student in Assistant Teaching Professor Wilmer Arellano’s Senior Design I in the Fall of 2020.
“I noticed that he had a young face, but I never imagined that he was just 16 years old, probably less at that time,” Arellano says. “I am so glad that I was not aware of his age. I can tell that all his merits, and being at the top of the class, was a complete result of his talent. He was evaluated like everybody else in the course without any bias. I foresee a bright professional future for Nathan.”
FIU professor Gustavo Roig adds: “I had the good fortune of interacting with Nathan as both professor and mentor during his time here. Though Nathan’s God-given intellect is obvious, it is his work ethic and dedication to learning and improvement that most stand out to me about him. I am hopeful that Nathan’s accomplishment will inspire other students to likewise excel in their studies and one day, as Nathan did, graduate as engineers from FIU. For Nathan, his journey is just getting started. There are many more great things to come.”
Thomas not only excels in engineering academically, but he also competed in local piano competitions for 8-9 years and has been a competitive basketball player in the AAU league.
Thomas plans to finish his master’s degree next year and hopes to eventually apply his education to research in quantitative finance, including modeling and trading research.