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Student Profiles

Connor Thomas
Connor Thomas

Putting Innovative Ideas Into Action

Sustainable solutions from talented future leaders like Connor play a critical role in serving society where it’s needed most.

Deciding what to do for a senior design project is never easy, but for Civil Engineering major, Connor Thomas, he wants it to focus on sustainability— something he’s very passionate about. Of particular interest to Connor is serving others by addressing global water resource issues. So, when his team started speaking with the University’s Frugal Innovation Lab and partnering with the Rotary Club to make sustainable and affordable engineering kits to help rural communities gain access to clean water in Guatemala, Connor was excited. And while traveling to see his ideas in action is unlikely right now, he sees the bigger picture. Sustainable solutions from talented future leaders like Connor play a critical role in educating global citizens and delivering solutions where they’re needed most.

Connor has been the recipient of the Robert Southwell, S.J. Scholarship for the past four years. He is grateful for the incredible opportunities his generous benefactors have provided for him and states, “My family and I are truly blessed
for me to even come to Santa Clara as well as continue to be part of this wonderful community.” He says, “Students are thankful for the impact donors have made on their lives—some people don’t have access to the same resources, and being able to obtain scholarship assistance might change their entire life as it has for me.” Endowed scholarships are crucial to providing students with the financial assistance they need to attend and be successful at Santa Clara. It is through their achievements that the University creates a legacy of transformative education.

Although he wasn’t anticipating such an unusual senior year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Connor is impressed by “the phenomenal job my professors have done adapting to teaching remotely.” While being able to work in laboratories has posed challenges, he adds, “They really stepped up and were able to fit their lesson plans into this new way of teaching, and I’m really happy about that.” He does miss being near his classmates, his teachers, and people in general. Like all of us, he has relied on technology to maintain connections with his friends—especially Zoom.

Throughout his academic career, Connor believes that his experience as a Bronco has allowed him to grow as a person as well as a future engineer. From the classroom to internships, he is better able to comprehend what engineers are expected to do in the public sector, and how sustainability impacts the decisions we make. His goal was to learn as much as possible about renewable energy solutions and how he could play a role in their development. Connor has discovered that, “sustainability does not always need to be achieved through fancy technological marvels, it can be easily achieved through moderation and accountability.” Aligned with SCU’s mission, he intends to use his knowledge to develop sustainability as a common practice in his projects—to understand how it is applied in the real world and what he can do to further society’s use of it.

Connor adds, “The type of education I have received at Santa Clara has taught me a lot about being guided by a moral compass, and that you should always strive to do good if you have the tools and capabilities.” One of the classes that stood out for him was an engineering ethics class taught by lecturer, Matthew J. Gaudet, who currently serves as co-chair of the Society of Christian Ethics Task Force on Contingency. It taught him, “what you should do, versus what you can do, and made me want to go out in the world and make a positive impact.” And it appears that Connor is doing just that.