From flash cards to aerospace: Rein scholarship gives Adam Bullock a path to AAE
When he was around 6 years old, Adam Bullock started getting lost. Not in the physical, sense-of-direction way, but mentally, flipping through a set of cards for hours. His mother had bought him flash cards of "the most fascinating airplanes," full of facts and figures on each one. He'd sit on the floor of his bedroom trying to memorize top speeds, design features, and whatever other specs he could fit in his brain.
Adam says focusing isn't always easy for him, but but these aircraft could capture his attention for hours. He's now making strides to become an aerospace engineer and solve the big puzzles facing the aerospace industry. His excellent academic record prior to enrolling at Purdue earned him a spot among the first recipients of the Gregory R. Rein Scholarship.
In 2021, thanks to a gift from the estate of Gregory Rein, the scholarship began awarding a full four years' worth of tuition and fees to select incoming first-year engineering students who have selected Aeronautics and Astronautics as their first choice. Recipients are selected based on academic merit and, to address strategic enrollment needs in the School, a demonstrated commitment to diversity.
Now in his second semester in AAE, Adam reflects on how far he's come already in his aerospace journey and the Purdue experience.
Q: A lot of people like airplanes and rockets, but not everyone wants to learn the skills to design their systems. Why did you choose engineering at Purdue?
A: I’m a big puzzle person. I like to find solutions to problems, and there really is no better profession to do that than an engineer. Seeing a huge collaborated effort come together after weeks of hard work is one of the most satisfying and rewarding feelings in the world to me.
I chose Purdue because I wanted to be challenged in a way that I think only a handful of schools could truly provide. I don’t believe engineering at any school would be a cakewalk by any means, but being surrounded by not only great professors, but incredibly bright peers has already taught me lessons that I do not think I would have learned without them. It becomes a lot harder to rely on your natural intelligence when everyone around you is either just as impressive or a step above, so the only way to stand out is to work harder.
Q: Did the Rein scholarship affect your choice to attend Purdue?
A: Absolutely. Having lived in Connecticut my entire life, there was definitely a sizeable part of me that wanted to stay at least a little closer to home. The Rein scholarship made the opportunity to come to Purdue far too good to pass up, and I could not be more grateful that I ended up here. The Rein scholarship has provided me the opportunity to learn without the fear of debt. I can go to my classes without worrying if I can afford the next semester, which is such a blessing. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.
Q: What is a dream project or design you want to contribute to in your career?
A: I want to find a way to provide cheap air transport to the regions of the world that need it most. I went on a mission trip I took to a little village called Tilory, Haiti, and there were only a few students in the entire community granted the opportunity to go study in the capital.
Every one of them willingly woke up hours before sunrise, traveling four or more hours up and down incredibly dangerous and mountainous terrain, just to sit in a classroom and learn. Seeing their determination, it's hard to sit back and be lazy. There is nothing I would want more than to provide them a safer alternative.
This may be outlandish, but it would not be a very good dream if it wasn’t.
Q: How do you like to spend your free time?
A: I spend a lot of time exercising, cooking, and playing basketball because I place a lot of value in physical health. I am also involved in a bible study, internship committee, and philanthropy board at my fraternity in hopes to better my mental and spiritual health.
Q: What classes do you find most interesting so far?
A: I love anything to do with physics, so physics 172 and 241 were two of my favorites content-wise. It seems to be that physics has major involvement in most of my classes, so I love to see the cross-over of concepts I have already learned. I am currently in AAE 251, and I can see this becoming one of my favorite classes as well. I like how it is set up similar to a real-world work environment where there are different projects you may be working on simultaneously, and it is very collaborative.
Q: As a person of color, are you at all intimidated by entering an industry that is majority white? Do you think it's important to promote diversity in aerospace?
A: As far as school goes, feel comfortable as a black student at Purdue. Due to the content of my major there’s not a ton of room for anyone to sneak in their prejudices, as there is a lot more objectivity than in other fields. That is part of the reason I love engineering. By contrast, as a black person in an area much less diverse than how I grew up, there is always going to be some discomfort in certain situations or conversations, but rarely would I say I feel unwelcome.
Heading into an industry that is majority white, I think it is important to be confident and to be strong so that I might inspire somebody else somewhere down the line. I want to be a role model and cannot do that if I am led by fear.
Working in a diverse group of people is imperative. Not only racially diverse, but intellectually, culturally, and honestly, however else you can be diverse. Diversity brings a multitude of perspectives that one can only hope to unlock by themselves. Different perspectives breed different ideas, and different ideas breed different solutions.