In the bustling world of technological advancement, Stephen Estelle ’18, a graduate of Frank R. Seaver College’s mechanical engineering M.S. program, sees nothing but possibilities.
Estelle’s career reflects his tenacity and commitment to innovation. While at LMU, he developed a passion for engineering, particularly 3D printing and prototyping. His master’s thesis focused on building affordable and functional prosthetics and became the cornerstone of his future.
As a graduate student, Estelle reflected, he met and mingled with fellow students who were working in the industries he was interested in exploring. He said these impressive classmates fueled his determination to enter the field.
“It really broadened my horizons and helped me realize there were so many things I could do with my degree and interests,” he said.
His mentor, Associate Professor Brenden Smith, played a pivotal role by transforming the daunting process of writing a thesis into an enjoyable and exciting endeavor.
“He was so optimistic about my project; he always said it would work,” said Estelle. “We took it one step at a time, breaking this huge thesis into smaller goals that I was able to achieve. There was support, but there was also so much enthusiasm any time I’d take a box of random parts to Brenden’s office for us to talk about.”
Inspired by the needs of amputees and the exorbitant costs of prosthetics in the United States, Estelle delved into the world of sensory-substitution devices, creating devices that use touch to substitute for vision.
Upon graduating, he took both his practical knowledge and his experience with networking within his cohort and set out to make a difference. While teaching English in Japan, he received a message asking if the parts he developed for his thesis were for sale.
“Because they were for educational purposes, I let them use my plans and models for free,” Estelle said. “And it turned out, the person who reached out had a job opportunity for me in Japan.”
Beyond his entrepreneurial pursuits, Estelle actively engages in networking and mentorship. He shares valuable insights with students, emphasizing the importance of confidence and persistence in networking. Estelle advocates for taking initiative, even if it means starting with unpaid internships, as they often serve as stepping stones to greater opportunities.
He works now as a mechanical engineering technician at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, where he said he has learned how to merge American ingenuity with Japanese precision. The experience he has gained has also contributed to his personal company: Estelle Ingenuity.
Currently, Estelle is working on a groundbreaking project with Estelle Ingenuity: a new way to charge electric vehicles. He also hosts a podcast where he interviews experts on the latest advances in science and technology. The big project he is working on is a culmination of his education and experience: a more reliable, efficient, and portable way to charge electric vehicles, especially self-driving cars.
Estelle’s dedication to creating inventions that shape the future drives his relentless pursuit of igniting innovation.