Mechanical engineering can be one of the most challenging majors in higher education, but Clemson University alumnus Patrick Jansen wants students to know they don’t have to go through the program alone.

Instead, they can help each other.

Carey and Patrick Jansen pose for a photo with their daughter, Mary Caroline.

Carey and Patrick Jansen pose for a photo with their daughter, Mary Caroline.

Jansen’s donation helped create Jansen Family Emerging Scholars, a program that brings together mechanical engineering students. The students who are further along in the major serve as mentors to those who are less experienced, helping stem attrition while maintaining the curriculum’s rigor.

“A lot of times one or two little tips– just a little bit of advice– will help someone get through a class and go on to become a great mechanical engineer,” Jansen said.

Jansen, who received his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering in 2015, drew on his own experience to help create Jansen Family Emerging Scholars.

When Jansen was a student, he had a buddy who was only a semester behind him. Yet they never saw each because their mechanical engineering classes were spread out among several buildings across campus, Jansen said.

Passion for mentorship runs in the Jansen family. Jansen’s wife, Carey Jansen, worked to improve mentoring when she was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, and she is doing the same at Emory University School of Medicine, where she is a student in the MD/PhD program and served as lead author on a paper about cancer research in the journal Nature.

She and three friends have a podcast, “Behind The Microscope,” which counts mentorship among its frequent topics.

“I think mentorship is really important and really critical, especially for success in careers in technical science and life sciences,” Carey Jansen said. “I am thrilled to be a part of that at Clemson in addition to the other institutions where I’ve been able to work on mentorship. And I’m really proud of Patrick for initiating the Jansen Family Emerging Scholars program.”

Patrick and Carey, who met in middle school in Athens, Georgia, were married in 2015 about a month after both graduated from college. They moved to Decatur, Georgia, so that Carey could enroll at Emory.

Patrick has put his mechanical engineering degree to work at Leppard Johnson & Associates, PC, where fellow Clemson mechanical engineering alumnus Ben Leppard is a principal and the director of mechanical engineering.

Patrick started out in mechanical design, creating drawings of HVAC and plumbing systems that will be installed in large commercial buildings. He has since moved into project management, where he serves as the main point of contact for clients, who are architects and contractors.

Leppard said that from the first time he met Patrick it was apparent that he was smart and personable.

“Plus, Patrick falls in that category of being conscientious,” Leppard said. “That three-legged stool of having technical skills and soft skills and being conscientious is invaluable.”

Tiger orange runs deep in the Jansen family. For Patrick, the connection goes back to when he attended Clemson football games with his father, Mike Jansen, whose brother, John Jansen, played offensive and defensive line for the Tigers in the early-1980s.

Patrick is the second of three siblings to attend Clemson. The first was his older sister, Valerie Jansen Revak, who received her Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2011. After graduation, she made a significant donation benefitting Tiger Band members. Their younger sister, Caroline, is a senior nursing student.

Patrick mentioned two faculty members when asked who at Clemson had the greatest impact on him.

He remembered Richard Figliola as a tough but fair professor who taught him fluid dynamics and aerodynamics. Greg Mocko, now an associate professor, advised Patrick’s senior design team, which built a device designed to wax a bicycle chain while still on the bicycle. Mocko now oversees Jansen Family Emerging Scholars.

The next generation of Jansen to wear Tiger orange could be on the way. During their interview with IDEAS Monthly, Patrick and Carey took turns holding their 7-month-old daughter, Mary Caroline, who has started crawling.

“What is she like?” they were asked.

“Wild and on the move,” Patrick said.

“Wild and happy,” said Carey, as the wide-eyed toddler squirmed in her lap.