Randy and his mentor, professor Jamie Gurganus, talk about his project at a table outside the UMBC library.

Randy Deinlein is used to taking risks. He served in the United States Air Force for over four years, and has explored a range of paths in the time since then. So it may come as a surprise that Deinlein had some uncertainty about starting his UMBC journey.
While he had worries about adjusting to college as a returning student, he quickly channeled his energy and sense of mission into building connections and making a difference on campus. In his time at UMBC, he has been an S-STEM Scholar, Grand Challenge Scholar, member of Engineers Without Borders and the Honors College, and service coordinator for the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society. He also completed three internships to prepare for the next steps in his career.

UMBC News: What was the adjustment like when you arrived on campus—connecting with the UMBC community?
Deinlein: As a veteran, I don’t think the transition was difficult. We’re instilled with this value of having a mission, kind of like a goal. When we have a mission, it’s very easy to just do those steps to get towards it. But as an adult learner, I think that was hard for me…just feeling older and out of place and like I wouldn’t be able to relate to a lot of these young people. And I found I actually relate to a lot of them. I’m so impressed by all of their attitudes and their views of life because it’s nowhere near where I was when I was their age. 

UMBC News: What activities have you been involved with at UMBC? 
Deinlein: I helped to start the RetrieVets and served as the president. Veterans come here and see it as a kind of mission, but we’re not taught the benefits of being involved in the community. When you’re involved with group organizations and the community, you’re able to grow and challenge yourself in new experiences. The benefit comes from helping others. That’s what I wanted for a veteran organization. 

UMBC News: How did your UMBC experience impact you?
Deinlein: It helped me move into the unknown and helped me be okay with challenging myself and doing things I don’t know how to do. I learned how to fail and fail fast…fail forward, as they say. I learned how to reflect on myself and what I have and haven’t done and every experience that I find important to myself, and how to grow from that. The UMBC community and the students, they are very supportive and open-minded. They’re diverse and interdisciplinary and outgoing. 

Deinlein graduated with a mechanical engineering degree and an entrepreneurship minor and applied for a Fulbright Scholarship at the Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland for a master’s in Global Management of Innovation and Technology.