A Conversation with Krzysztof Bzdyk
- What school year did you graduate from Eisenhower Junior High?
- What grades did you attend in District 61?
- Please let us know any special memories of your time spent while attending District 61 Schools.
My fondest memories from elementary school would probably be Field Days at the end of the year. The trips to Springfield and Washington, D.C., would probably be my fondest memories from Junior High. I loved participating in intramural sports with my friends.
- Who are some of the memorable teachers you had and why?
Mr. Stallings and Mr. Cabrera–They made social studies fun and interesting where typically these subjects are seen as boring. They made the class something to look forward to.
Mrs. Perisin–She would get everyone excited about science through fun projects and bring her passion for science into the classroom, inspiring me to make a career in engineering.
Mrs. Pidde–I don’t think I would be where I am now if I hadn’t learned to write and read critically. Communication is an undervalued skill in STEM fields and Mrs. Pidde certainly helped me realize its importance. That has helped drive my success.
- What clubs, sports or extracurricular activities were you involved in?
As I recall, I played quite a few intramural sports. I also played football as an 8th-grader and was on the chess team.
- Did you receive any special recognition or awards, or are proud of any personal accomplishments in school?
I am proud of sticking to the honors curriculum. Taking honors classes created a sort of cascade of success. It allowed me to get a head start in high school, which led to getting a head start in college, which led me to getting a graduate degree and where I am now.
- If you could say anything to current students of Darien District 61, what would that be? (Words of wisdom or encouragement)
Get in the habit of taking good notes–even at work I still have piles of notebooks.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The smartest people aren’t the ones who think they know everything. Great scientists are the ones who know what they don’t know and who to ask when they have a question. Knowing how to learn new things is much more important than actually knowing things.
Never stop reading, never stop asking questions, never stop learning, and never stop imagining.
Life will get very boring very fast if you stop learning; so find a career that is interesting to you where you can always learn new things.
Don’t be afraid to try something new and don’t stop doing the things you already like to do just because someone else doesn’t enjoy it. I still watch cartoons and play Dungeons and Dragons and I love every bit of it. There is no such thing as needing to “grow up” from doing the things you love. The world is huge, you just need to look around a bit and you’ll find people who like the same things as you.
- Where do you live now?
Cleveland, Ohio, but I’ll be moving to Glasgow, Scotland, in September to pursue a Ph.D.
- What are some of the accomplishments and noteworthy activities since leaving District 61?
I achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.
I have a pilot’s license and I am a certified rescue diver.
Graduated Summa Cum Laude from St. Louis University with both a bachelor’s and a master’s in aerospace engineering.
I helped build two satellites that were launched into space while I was in college.
My master’s project consisted of building a thermal vacuum chamber, which is used for testing satellites in a space-like environment.
I currently work at NASA as a propulsion engineer where I work on Thrust Vector Control and Auxiliary Engines for Orion. (Orion is going to be what takes humans to the moon and back and to Mars. It’s similar to Apollo, only bigger.)
I’ll be doing a Ph.D. at the University of Glasgow in Scotland on solid rocket engines starting in September.
10. What are your current involvements (including jobs, activities, hobbies and interests)?
As mentioned, I work as a propulsion engineer at NASA.
I enjoy playing Dungeons and Dragons with a few friends every week.
I exercise often and take part in obstacle course races every year where I will volunteer as a rescue diver.
I read as often as I can and try to read at least a book every month.
I love cooking and I try to cook and eat new things/recipes as often as I can.
I spend the rest of my free time playing with and training my dog. We have been attending sheep-herding training lately.
11. What are your plans/goals for the future?
Right now, I am focused on getting everything in order as I am getting ready to move to Scotland in September for at least three years while doing my Ph.D. I haven’t made very many plans or goals after that yet.
12. Do you have any pets?
I have a Border Collie named Arya that will be turning 3 in June.