Meet Alumni:

Nicholas Lajoie

2009 Young Scientist Challenge Finalist

Nicholas studied Computer Engineering in college and is currently pursuing a career in technology. He plays the drums and has worked in filmmaking.

What have you been up to since participating in the 3M Young Scientist Challenge?

After the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, I became really interested in filmmaking (I even got to work full-time as a Production Assistant on a film that was shot in my hometown!), and I actually considered going to film school after graduating from high school in 2014. However, my interest in engineering won in the end, and I received my Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering from the University of Maine in 2018 (while still pursuing film projects on the side). It was absolutely the right decision, and it set me up to do what I'm doing now: pursuing a career in technology!

What were your favorite three school subjects?

Math, band (I play the drums), and science/engineering, of course!

Were you involved in any school teams or clubs, if so which ones?

In high school I was involved with the chess club, played on the basketball and baseball teams, and played at every pep band event I could! Once I got to college, I helped start an “Entrepreneurship Club” on campus, organized trips to collegiate “Hackathons”, and was both a participant and organizer of the “UMaine Business Challenge.” I was also involved with the Electrical & Computer Engineering department as a student ambassador, and as an alumni, am currently on the ECE Visiting Committee.

What advice do you have for a student who is considering entering the 3M Young Scientist Challenge? How would you say the 3M Young Scientist Challenge has impacted your life?

As someone who grew up on a potato farm in a very rural area in Maine, I assumed that I probably wasn't 'smart enough' to enter something like the 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Fortunately, I had friends and family who encouraged me to just give it a try, and sure enough, I became a finalist and my life was changed forever! So my advice is this: don't let what you perceive to be limitations (i.e. where you grew up, what classes you've taken, etc.) hold you back. It seems simple, but the phrase "if you don't try, you'll never know" goes a long way in life. Be bold, have confidence, and take chances. And don't forget to lean on your community to help you achieve your goals. The scientific community is just that: a community. Take a chance on the 3M Young Scientist Challenge—it showed me that I could become an engineer and change the world, and I will always be grateful for that!

Currently, what about the 3M Young Scientist Challenge Alumni Network most excites you?

It's been so great to see how impactful the organization has been after 13 years, and I've loved catching up with some friends that I haven't seen since I participated in the challenge.

“Take a chance on the 3M Young Scientist Challenge — it showed me that I could become an engineer and change the world, and I will always be grateful for that!”

Nicholas Lajoie

2009 Finalist