MELBOURNE, FLA. — With his pilot’s license earned and a clear vision for a future career in aerospace engineering, Andy Traficante is coming to Florida Tech in the fall as the 2021 Farmer Scholar, the university announced today.
Named for Phillip W. Farmer, the retired chairman, president and chief executive officer of L3Harris Corp. and past chairman of the Florida Tech Board of Trustees, the 12-year-old Farmer Scholars program is the university’s most prestigious financial award.
The program provides a full, four-year scholarship awarded annually to a Florida resident and high school graduate who is among the top 5 percent of his or her class and demonstrates exceptional academic achievement and outstanding personal character.
Traficante is graduating from Saint Andrew’s School in Boca Raton with a 4.49 weighted GPA and a resume already bursting with accomplishments, from being elected freshman class president to serving as co-captain of the varsity bowling team and vice president of the Design/Engineering/Robotics/Programming Club.
Dreaming of becoming a pilot since he was a boy, Traficante took a discovery flight at age 6. “As soon as the plane lifted off the grass runway,” he wrote in his application materials, “my dream was confirmed.” His first flight lesson came less than a year later.
As he became a more accomplished pilot, he learned his love for flying was not necessarily the end of his journey. It was in fact a gateway to more.
“As much as I enjoy piloting an airplane, after my first few lessons, I realized I wanted more to understand the mechanics of flight. I became particularly fascinated by the elements of an aircraft’s design and the engineering behind it,” he said in an email interview. “I want to be part of a team who designs and fabricates the components of future aircraft and spacecraft.”
Though he plans to utilize F.I.T. Aviation to further his skills in the cockpit, Traficante is excited to get his hands on Florida Tech’s cutting-edge equipment and lab spaces.
“What attracts me to the school are the innovations it enables in the field and the facilities that it would offer me to apply my skills in mathematics, physics, and computer science to concrete projects,” he wrote in his application essay. “With Florida Tech’s state-of-the-art tools and technology, I would be able to execute designs and build prototypes at the limits of my imagination, connecting my passion for building things with aerospace theories and technologies in the MakerSpace and other labs.”
How driven is Traficante when it comes to aviation and aerospace? Tammy Friedman, associate director of college guidance at Saint Andrew’s School, said in her letter of recommendation that amid the closures and curtailments brought on the pandemic, “in true Andy fashion, he set to work finding a way to ‘make it work.’”
He and his brother used their savings to purchase a trainer airplane, which they set about repairing. “Despite several setbacks, Andy worked with a number of resources (including the FAA and NTSB) and was able to get the plane in the air by late summer,” Friedman wrote. He also found the time to start a part-time job offering aerial drone photography for real estate, construction and events.
“Andrew is a dedicated student who values the process of learning and discovery,” Chad E. Pentler, Traficante’s English teacher for 10th and 11th grades, said in his letter of recommendation.
“I know how much Phil Farmer valued higher education and how proud he was of the innovation, rigor and excellence that are the hallmarks of a Florida Tech education,” said Florida Tech President Dwayne McCay. “Andy knows those traits well, it seems, and I am pleased to welcome him to campus as he starts his journey toward many successes in aerospace engineering.”