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Adam Cellon '17

Adam Cellon '17

Virginia Beach, Va.

For Adam Cellon, engineering is like a family business. His father is a civil engineer and his older sister is a mechanical engineer. When it was time to consider what he wanted to do with his life, he listened closely to his parents’ advice.

“They always said even if you don’t end up being an engineer for the rest of your life, it’s still great to have an engineering degree.” So engineering seemed preordained. The unknown for him was what kind of engineering.

Before coming to Princeton, he thought a lot about prosthetics and computers. That led him to high school research on brain computer interface, a technology that may be used to enable people with disabilities to control prosthetic devices simply with their thoughts.

By the time he arrived at Princeton, he was torn between mechanical engineering, which was related to his interest in prosthetics, and electrical engineering, which was closer to his interest in circuitry. He maintained an open mind, taking courses that would support both concentrations.

Then one day he went to an open house sponsored by the engineering department. After visiting an electrical engineering laboratory and observing robot cars, he thought robotics could be the natural bridge between mechanical and electrical engineering. And combining that with a certificate in neuroscience could land him exactly where his earlier research had taken him.

Cellon knows he has charted a challenging course. He realizes that for some people that is reason enough to go in a certain direction, but not for him. “The idea of let’s do the hardest thing faded somewhat when I got here because it’s not necessarily the way to go through life,” he says. In fact, by the end of his freshman year, he decided the way to make it through Princeton would be to consciously focus on having more fun. 

“While the academics are great and rigorous here, I decided I needed to do something else with my time,” he says. ”Your academics will always keep you busy, and the more time I had, the more time I studied.”

So Cellon, who is an analytical kind of guy, took stock of the many options around him and joined Undergraduate Student Government. He serves on the University Student Life Committee, which collaborates with administrators on events and policies aimed at ensuring a robust student life for undergraduates. He is a SHARE (Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources and Education) peer, which means he works on programming in this area and has been trained to point students to the right resources. He also joined the Whitman Residential College Council, which directs all aspects of Whitman’s cultural, social and academic life.  

“I found it relatively easy to become involved,” he says. His advice to students considering Princeton is this: Take advantage of all the University offers in academics, but don’t let your learning stop there. Pick and choose from the wide range of opportunities that exist outside the classroom to nurture your interests and spirit.