Standout Seniors: Meet Derek Shaffer

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Derek Shaffer:

derek shaffer in uniform cropped

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Stoneboro, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: I received The DeFrees Family Foundation Scholarship for Schreyer Scholars and Honors Students for all four years that I have been at Behrend. I have a lot of gratitude toward the donors. Without scholarship help, managing the monetary burden of college would be difficult.

On choosing Behrend: I chose Penn State Behrend because of its size, which is small enough to offer personal connections with professors. In addition, undergraduate student researchers are in high demand here by faculty members.

On choosing to major in Mechanical Engineering: I chose my major for its versatility. A person with a mechanical engineering background can go into material science, aerospace, architecture, design, research, manufacturing, and many other fields. I also find it interesting to study the similarities and differences at the crossroads of these fields.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I’m proud of the amount of work I have been able to accomplish while still experiencing the best parts of college. I was on the college’s club hockey team for my entire college career while still maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average and publishing multiple journal and conference papers through my manufacturing research.

Campus involvement: I have been a member of the club hockey team my entire college career. We are part of the American Club Hockey Association, which includes teams from universities across the country. These teams are then broken into conferences just like NCAA sports. Our teams practice whenever they can get ice, which often means 6:00 a.m. or midnight, play games on the weekends instead of going out, and have GPA and credit requirements just like varsity athletes.

On goaltending: Not many people are fond of the idea of being hit with frozen rubber, but I find it fun.

Who inspires him: My parents and my girlfriend of six years inspire me the most. They are the hardest working and most caring people I have ever met. My mother is a nurse, my dad is a police officer, and my girlfriend is a physician assistant. These three people have shown me the importance of living a full life and enjoying time with your family and friends.

Advice for new students: Don’t rush into picking a major or worry too much about what you’ll do for a career. It will come to you naturally as you gain more time and experience with different fields. Figuring out what type of person you want to be and leaving your options open are more important.

After his graduation in May, Derek plans to attend graduate school. In the future, he hopes to do high-level research and design, preferably in the aerospace industry.


 Derek and his fiancé, Jazmyne Sasse.



One thought on “Standout Seniors: Meet Derek Shaffer

  1. So great to the photos and hear. About the accomplishments. All very exciting and gratifying. Congratulations and best wishes for the future

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