In a recent interview with Winds Of Change, ECE alumnus Manuelito Chief discussed growing up on the Navajo Nation, his fascination with electrical engineering and how internships helped lead him to a successful career.
Chief always had an interest in learning how electronics work and finding their application to real-world problems. This guided the Navajo native toward an education in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Arizona.
Chief completed multiple internships during his time at UA, each of which gave him industry experience and furthered his interest in engineering and problem-solving. These internships included work with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and the Tsehootsooi Medical Center.
After earning his degree, Chief worked at Sandia National Laboratories in the Indian Energy Program. He says he enjoyed his research into off-grid solar and, wind systems there because it could greatly help those who do not have the option of connecting to the electrical grid.
"Each reservation has problems that are unique. But regardless of the status or condition of the reservation, it's the people who take action who make a difference in their community," Chief said. "So I think that Native people in a position to go to college and get an education, and who are able to go back to the reservation, should do that. That is how we can make positive change in our communities."
Winds of Change is a publication of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.