Inventive by nature, engineers by calling: Teo Patrosio, E23, A23

Undergraduate student Teo Patrosio, E23, A23, is working on the frontier of computers.
Undergraduate student Teo Patrosio, E23, A23

Teo Patrosio, E23, A23

Advances in microchip performance that revolutionize speed and efficiency, such as Apple’s first ARM-based laptop chip, the M1, capture the imagination of Teo Patrosio, a triple major (electrical engineering, computer science, and mathematics). “I’ve always loved computers,” says Patrosio, who assembled a computer on their own before coming to Tufts. Now a senior, Patrosio is channeling that fascination as an undergraduate researcher in the Tufts Emerging Circuits and Systems (TECS) Lab, where the team, led by Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Marco Donato, focuses on designing the next generation of energy-efficient, reliable hardware. Patrosio also enjoys the engineering community at the Nolop FAST Facility, the university makerspace, where they work as a staff member.

“I work in the nearly invisible world of microchips and research how some of these small systems work together inside computers. It’s cool work. The problems we’re trying to solve are definitely challenging intellectually—they are part of a complex, integrated environment. I find it very rewarding to throw myself into something where the outcome isn’t exactly known. You never know where it is going or what we are going to find.

"I also like to build with my hands, specifically when it can be manufactured by the Nolop laser cutter. I've found that you can fabricate all sorts of complex things with only a laser cutter, some hand tools, and, occasionally, a 3D printer. For example, last semester I designed and fabricated a flame thrower battle bot in a week using only the laser cutter and a few other materials that are available for purchase in Nolop. As a staff member, when helping a student, I first try to ask the student what they want to do and then try to fit it in with these two constraints.

“I’m a low-income, genderqueer, neurodivergent person of color who was raised by a single adoptive mother. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be an engineer (or at least build cool things to solve real problems). Having such a strong identity taught me that I need to be confident in my ideas and to stand up for myself even if I often feel very different. Presenting confidently continues to be important. At Tufts, I've had lots of help. I’ve learned that I can overcome anything if I put time into it. I have had such great opportunities to do that here— I was the first student to join [Assistant Professor] Marco Donato in supporting his research at TECS—and such great friends. I feel confident that I can go on to pursue a Ph.D. and continue working on the edge of human knowledge, to contribute to the world's collective knowledge.”