The New York City Post of the Society of Military Engineers (SAME) has awarded Harvard College senior Tim McNamara, S.B. ’17, the 2017 Colonel and Mrs. S.S. Dennis III Scholarship in recognition of his hard work and academic excellence.

In a ceremony on April 21, Frank Doyle, dean of the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), presented McNamara with a certificate of accomplishment and a scholarship check for $500 from SAME.

“I feel honored to receive this award,” McNamara said. “I am grateful to SAME for recognizing my hard work and appreciative of my classmates, professors, and teaching staff members who have supported and guided me over the past four years.”

McNamara, who hails from Dartmouth, Mass., will graduate in May with a degree in electrical engineering. His parents studied engineering and he felt drawn toward the career path from an early age. The breadth of electrical engineering, from signal processing to hardware, appealed to the technically inclined McNamara.

The opportunity to tackle hands-on projects is one of the things he has enjoyed the most about SEAS. For example, in The Joy of Electronics (ES 52), McNamara found that his meticulous nature came in handy as he fine-tuned a wide array of devices, from a lunar lander game to a virtual electronic die. For his final ES 52 project, he built a coffee cup that could automatically regulate a liquid’s temperature.

“That was one of the courses where I felt like I learned the most in a very short amount of time,” said McNamara, who has offered guidance to fellow students as a course assistant for Introduction to Electrical Engineering (ES 50). “I’ve applied those lessons and hands-on skills in so many of my other classes.”

For his senior thesis project, McNamara combined the lessons he learned in ES 52 with a passion for space exploration he discovered while completing Space Science and Engineering (ES 160). After hearing a guest lecture about cube satellites, McNamara was intrigued by these small, space-going research vehicles.

He developed an inexpensive ground station that could pick up signals from passing satellites and quickly export data to a computer. He set out to craft a simple device with low-cost components that could be used by hobbyists or university research groups. McNamara built an omnidirectional antenna, connecting it to a software defined radio dongle and a series of inexpensive computer parts to keep costs below $300.

“It was fun to wet my feet in the field of radio communication and learn about different kinds of modulation and frequency bands,” he said. “In an abstract sense, this project taught me to how teach myself concepts. I had to be resourceful on my own, and I appreciated that challenge.”

McNamara will apply those skills after graduation when he begins working in a research and engineering capacity for the Department of Defense, which awarded him a Science, Mathematics & Research Transformation (SMART) scholarship to help fund his Harvard tuition. After collaborating with a DoD researcher in Washington last summer on undersea research projects, McNamara is looking forward to tackling new and compelling challenges.

For his senior thesis project, McNamara developed an inexpensive ground station that could pick up signals from passing satellites and quickly export data to a computer. (Photo by Eliza Grinnell/SEAS Communications.)

About SAME

The Society of American Military Engineers (SAME), the premier professional military engineering association in the United States, unites architecture, engineering, construction (A/E/C), facility management and environmental entities and individuals in the public and private sectors to prepare for—and overcome—natural and manmade disasters, and to improve security at home and abroad.

Headquartered in Alexandria, Va., SAME provides its more than 27,000 members extensive opportunities for training, education and professional development through a robust offering of conferences, workshops, networking events and publications. With a membership that includes recent service academy graduates and retired flag officers, project managers and corporate executives, Department of Defense civilians, private-sector experts and everyone in between, SAME is bridging the gaps between critical stakeholders to advance the field of military engineering and help secure our nation.