An engineer in need of a nudge, Cooper Reif found his path at Case.
When he was a kid, Cooper Reif made contraptions that turned the lights off and on in his bedroom. His Rube Goldberg devices animated the house. He simply loved building things.
“I think I was interested in engineering before I knew I was interested in engineering,” said Reif, a third-year student from Chicago. He thanks Case for opening his eyes. Having arrived an aspiring astrophysicist, he kept ending up in Nord Hall and Sears think[box].
“It wasn’t until I got to Case that I said, ‘Oh wait, all the things that I like to do are in engineering,’” he said. “I love it.’”
A Junior-Senior Scholarship is helping him pursue a degree in mechanical engineering and Reif is grateful. He’s also making the most of the opportunities, diving into research and assuming leadership roles, sampling the collaborative culture that drew him to Case Western Reserve University in the first place.
“I definitely saw the mass amount of clubs,” he said. “I saw the fact that you could take classes anywhere, compared to a lot of schools that lock you in. Case really allows you to make college your own.”
In addition to an engineering degree, he’s taking courses toward minors in entrepreneurial studies and business management. He has advanced in the ranks of Undergraduate Student Government, from first-year representative to a member of the finance committee to being elected Vice President of Finance. In that role, he interacts with members of more than 200 student organizations that come to USG for funding.
“It’s really interesting to see all these clubs and what they’re doing, and to see what’s emerging,” he said.
“There’s a flying club on the horizon. Like, airplanes.”
This year, he took his biggest step yet toward a career. Hoping to explore beyond mechanical engineering, Reif applied for a ThinkEnergy Undergraduate Fellowship through the Great Lakes Energy Institute at the Case School of Engineering. As a ThinkEnergy Fellow, he’s receiving special instruction and immersion in advanced energy and the possibilities.
He’s focusing on clean energy technologies, where he sees an exciting time of innovation.
“I wanted to work on something that could make a difference,” he said.