Student Profile: Q&A with Jawanza Bassue

Jawanza Bassue is a junior aerospace engineering major from Basseterre, a town in the small Caribbean island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis.  Apart from his studies, Jawanza is a photographer whose work has been featured in a National Geographic publication. He is a student photographer for OU Information Technology where he takes pictures across campus.  Many of the beautiful photos you see in AME publications are his work. 

How did you hear about OU’s Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering program?

I stumbled on to OU’s Design Build Fly team successes.  I jumped at the chance to be at an institution that did fun competitions and was nationally recognized for all of its engineering programs.

Why did you choose OU?

I tell everyone that it’s great to grow up on a beautiful Caribbean island but, until you’re challenged outside of your comfort zone, your character growth is limited.  I looked forward to a challenge and a great place to explore. Haven’t regretted or my decision once since.

What makes you want to be an AE major?

Besides my love for science and technology, I’ve always had a passion for flight, travel and airplanes. I dabbled with the idea of becoming a professional pilot, but I realized that someday I would love to be a part of the team that had “the next great engineering  idea.”  Being able to create something on the level of Boeing’s 787 was my motivation. In the end, art and science, coupled with my passion for design and flight made Aerospace Engineering seem like the perfect avenue to explore.

What do you want to do when you finish your degree?

I hope to land a design or customer interaction job for a major (or minor) aircraft manufacturer or part supplier.  My dream job would see me interacting with a customer with unique needs or specifications for an aeronautic application then being a part of the team that designs the components of a great new aircraft.

I have already decided I will use my new-found knowledge in the education system back in my homeland, encouraging younger students to consider a degree in engineering. Another thought I’ve had is if I have the energy and/or finances available, I’d love to expand my undergraduate degree into a graduate research project. I dream big.

How has your photography helped you to connect to OU and AME?

I have been able to interact with the people who really make OU tick behind the scenes. From meeting the likes of Sarah Warren at AME to being on first-name basis with President Boren and the lovable Clarke Stroud, university vice president for student affairs and dean of students – I think I have shed lots of photographic cheer to hundreds of staff and students at OU.

At AME however, I get the unique chance to see what other students are doing for capstone projects, witness groundbreaking graduate research and get the inside scoop on available opportunities.  I’ve become a regular site around the engineering buildings, wielding my almighty camera gear.

Do you hope to merge your photography and engineering in your career?

Yes. I hope to use my artistic talents to bring something unique to the engineering circle.  It’s not every day an employer gets to hire a young engineer who just happens to be a semi-professional and accomplished photographer who has good business and marketing sense.

What advice do you have someone who has a skill outside of engineering that they want to continue developing while a student?

Find a way to use the school to your advantage. Target people around OU who you see every day that can help you take your skill from hobby, to a successful business or enrich your engineering degree. In the end, employers seem to be looking for the engineer with a difference.

What is your favorite picture you’ve taken of the OU campus?

My night shot of the Bizzell Library done in a High Dynamic Range (HDR) my freshman year.

OU Library

Bizzell Library, photo by Jawanza Bassue

What is your favorite picture you’ve ever taken of a person or of people?

During Carnival season in my home country of St. Kitts I took this black and white portrait of a “Rasta-man” (possibly of the Rastafarian religion). It has always been my favorite just because of the strong features of his face, his hair, and the way he tells the story of a lifetime with his eyes.

Rasta Man, photo by Jawanza Bassue


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