Things that go fast, things that fly, things that combust – such things have always fascinated undergraduate Jamaal Sanders. Stationary objects never held much allure for him. As a child growing up in Pomona, he would build miniature derby cars and regatta sailboats – then race them. These days Sanders has a productive outlet for his penchant for propulsion: mechanical engineering.

For students like Sanders, engineering offers a chance to tinker with everything from computer circuit boards to rockets; it’s the major for those who like to figure out how things work.

“I like waking up to a new challenge every day,” Sanders says.

Engineering students are out in force during E-Week, The Henry Samueli School of Engineering’s annual celebration of National Engineers Week, presented by the Engineering Student Council Feb. 21-25. Events, designed to demonstrate students’ ingenuity, include the annual egg drop off of Engineering Tower, a paper airplane contest, and the Rube Goldberg competition, where students create a ridiculously complex contraption to perform a simple task.

A highlight of E-week is the EngiTech Career Fair, which allows students to meet company representatives and recruiters.

Sanders, who graduates in June, has already accepted an offer from General Electric to work in the company’s aircraft division in Ohio while attending graduate school (paid for by GE) at Ohio State University.

“I’ll take classes while working on jet engines,” he says.

No doubt GE was impressed by Sanders’ well-rounded background. While maintaining a 3.3 GPA at UCI, he’s tutored other students in math and science and worked at Honeywell. He belongs to the UCI chapters of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and National Society of Black Engineers, serving as the ASME’s co-president and NSBE’s external vice president – encouraging companies’ involvement in the chapter through educational presentations and other activities.

Sanders discovered engineering through UCI’s COSMOS program, the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science, which offers courses taught by UCI faculty and scientists to gifted students in grades 8-12.

“I like engineering because you’re always solving problems,” he says.

His future looks bright, but Sanders has no grand 10-year plan. He’s taking it day by day, solving each challenge as it comes.