Senior Spotlight: Ken Lew
By Danielle Amir-Lobel ’20
Learn about a graduating senior’s passions for science and engineering.
Ken Lew ’20 is an innovative and introspective scientist who is always searching for ways to apply his education toward engineering solutions for real-world problems.
Ken discovered his passion for material science, aerospace and engineering through his first science fair project during his freshman year at LJCDS. He conducted a study of aerodynamics to develop the most optimal geometric wing shape for flying. He has competed in the Greater San Diego Science Fair for the past three years and cherishes the opportunity to meet with local professionals from the aerospace industry. His original projects, which include a composite material with the strength of titanium and the lightweight qualities of carbon fiber for the aerospace field, have earned him two invitations to the statewide California Science Fair.
Ken founded the Science Fair Flex Time at LJCDS to inspire students to use their resources to create great projects. He credits his love of science to Mr. [Dan] Padgett, Upper School science educator, who has been his mentor for various engineering endeavors. He will always remember returning to school after each science fair to share his results with Mr. Padgett who has always been supportive of his achievements.
Ken was drawn to the Innovation Lab since he joined LJCDS in ninth grade. He is grateful to Mr. Lenzen, Mr. Abbondanzio and Mr. Robinson for supporting his innovations. Ken expressed he loves “the adaptability of engineering” and “the ability to utilize certain knowledge such as science and math and to effect change.” Ken is leaving a lasting legacy on the Innovation Lab through one of his ongoing endeavors; he has designed and built a 3-axis CNC machine along with a few other LJCDS students. The new equipment offers the capability to cut metal materials to “make real products that will last” out of more sustainable material. With the generous help of the R² award, an endowed award for leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship granted by the Reifschneider family, Ken has already filed for his first patent for a tile that will provide autonomous vehicle guidance with potential applications in emergency relief and space exploration.
Besides his STEM classes, Ken has also taken advantage of advanced humanities classes at LJCDS, which has helped him better understand the ethical component behind autonomous vehicle engineering. His favorite class has been Honors Multivariable Calculus. He enjoys the flexibility of the class and its diverse focuses and applications in engineering endeavors such as computer-aided design.
Outside of the classroom, Ken is a peer leader for freshmen. He shares that his peer leaders were “integral in helping [him] transition to LJCDS,” so he wanted to give back to the freshmen students. He advises underclassmen at LJCDS to “find the field you want to go into and see what you can do with that field” and “seek the immense support from LJCDS” in pursuing your passion. He also enjoys competing with the LJCDS Golf Team and deep-sea fishing. He loves these activities not only for the sport aspect but also because they serve as a time for self-reflection. Ken has even taught himself how to cook professionally. He describes how cooking, like engineering, is very detail-oriented and enjoys the flexibility and creativity that cooking allows him.
In college, Ken plans to major in mechanical engineering and looks forward to continuing to conduct research within material science and engineering. He is excited to pursue a career within the aerospace industry in the future.