Techie Trailblazer

Abigail Sydnes, ENG 17,  remembers growing up building computers with her dad in their basement. Her father and mother, both electrical engineers, helped instill a knack for science, technology and engineering in their daughter, who is now a product manager of interactivity at Comcast.

Abigail Sydnes sits in front of a building.
Photo credit: Ryan S. Brandenberg, CLA ’14

Abby at a glance

Shooting for the stars ... and Mars

Before Sydnes even graduated from Temple, she had secured her job at Comcast, thanks to a special internship experience at the tech giant the summer before.

Indeed, internships are the norm for most Temple students, who are always eager to get to work. Having tangible access to connections and opportunities contributes to their success. Sydnes also interned at NASA in Ohio with the Glenn Research Center, where she got to work on sensor development for a Mars robot.

While at Temple, Sydnes, who majored in electrical and computer engineering, and minored in computer science and Spanish, was active in the Temple Robotics Club—serving as president during her senior year and growing the group significantly during her tenure. She fondly remembers traveling to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with the organization for competitions. 

For her senior design project, Sydnes visited Kentucky to launch a balloon her team helped craft to record the solar eclipse.

“There’s just a wealth of opportunity [at Temple] and things to expose yourself to,” said Sydnes.

Back to earth

During her junior year of high school while taking a summer robotics class at the university, Sydnes first met Temple Engineering Associate Professor John Helferty. The following year, when she was accepted to Temple with a President’s Scholar Award, she’d help TA the very same course. For the rest of her time in college, she worked closely with Helferty—who she calls “Dr. H.”

“Dr. H is a really incredible professor,” said Sydnes. “He had all the support in the world for me ... I think everybody needs an advocate or a mentor, to pull you through in different situations.”

Coming full circle

Outside of work, Sydnes volunteers for Vex Robotics, an organization that introduces school-age children to engineering principles through hands-on activities and one she was affiliated with when she was young. She’s often refereeing or mentoring young students during robotics competitions. 

“I want kids in the community to have the same opportunities I had,” she said. “To teach kids that you can be an engineer, or you don’t have to be an engineer, but the opportunity is there, which helps kids grow.”

—By Lauren Hertzler, KLN ’13, and Samara Grossel, KLN ’17