“I don’t say no to opportunities,” said fourth-year doctoral candidate John Gibson. “If I see an opportunity, I’m going to take it.” 

It is a guiding principle that has opened many doors for John: he’s a producer for a music group, he belongs to a company that is building a drone bike, and he is co-owner of a Brazilian martial arts studio in Miramar.

This year, he will be able to add something else to that list: earning a doctoral degree in Electrical Engineering.

John, originally from St. Louis and raised in Atlanta, earned his undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering from Bethune-Cookman University. He will graduate from FIU in Spring 2018 with a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering. While he was initially interested in wireless charging, he switched gears after working on a project with the Air Force during an internship. Now his research focuses on reconfigurable antennas that react to temperatures.

John became interested in engineering as a child. “I used to always take things apart and put them back together,” he said. “In school, I would take computers apart and put them back together.” After earning his undergraduate degree, he completed a few internships before deciding to pursue graduate education. He applied to several Florida universities, and his name eventually found its way to Dr. Sonja Montas-Hunter at FIU. John met with Dr. Montas-Hunter, Assistant Vice-Provost for Student Access and Success, and found an advisor, Associate Professor Stavros Georgakopoulos.

John, the first graduate from FIU’s Bridge to the Doctorate program, has interned at the University of Florida, NASA, and the Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio. He has been working with the Air Force for the last two years and will continue to do so after he graduates. John will join the research laboratory as an electronics engineer where he will work on improving radar and electro-optics, the systems that protect military planes from missiles.

“I have had internships every summer. I knew what I wanted to do before I graduated,” John said. “I’m an example that hard work pays off.”