My First Semester

KENNESAW, Ga. | Jan 10, 2020

Mechatronics major finds new passion at KSU

The first semester of college is a time of tremendous transition for most students as they live on their own for the first time, adapt to more rigorous coursework and learn time management. In recognition of that, we are spotlighting students who have just completed their first semesters at Kennesaw State. Ben Johnson, an Honors student pursuing a degree in mechatronics engineering, shares in his own words what made his first semester at KSU so memorable.


My first semester in college was the best semester of school in my life. I had so many amazing experiences, learned a ton and met people from all walks of life that have turned into some of my best friends.

My first experience with Kennesaw started all the way back in 2017 when my sister was getting ready to graduate high school and she was looking at colleges. While on her visit to Kennesaw, my family heard about mechatronics and thought I’d find it interesting. If only they had known the simple act of telling me about an obscure branch of engineering would lead me on a path to Kennesaw State, a school I’ve fallen in love with.

Ben Johnson

After doing a couple days’ worth of research on mechatronics, I was able to fully understand its place in engineering and how it combined aspects of mechanical, computer and electrical engineering to create an entirely new type of engineering. Its main purpose was in robotics; however, mechatronics is a growing field of engineering that is now being used in almost every aspect of technology. This combination of fields is contributing in everything from medicine, to exploration, to energy creation and many more fields of science.

I decided to major in mechatronics (big surprise there), and it’s been some of the most fun I’ve had with school in my life. In just my first semester, I was able to build and program a fully functioning robot and then compete against my peers’ robots to see whose bot could score the most points on a playing field. I was also able to write code that created online storybooks, design complex parts of machines in 3D and so many other cool things, it’s hard to keep track.

Aside from academics, some of the best memories I’ve made have been at school events such as the football games and our homecoming events. The high school I came from had just been built in 2012, so we didn’t have the big school traditions, events and spirit that other schools had. This lack of spirit and excitement really got me amped up for college games and events, and I wasn’t disappointed. Cheering on our football team with my friends and thousands of other students felt awesome, and being able to experience a concert for free from artists like Max and Meg the Stallion was a great experience that I’ll remember for years to come.

Despite all the great adventure, experiences and friends that I’ve made along the way, my first semester was anything but an easy transition. Coming from Savannah, Georgia and attending Kennesaw State four hours away from everything I’ve called home was a huge shift for me. Everything felt foreign to me with no family or friends here with me for support. Fortunately, this feeling subsided when I eventually found my group of friends who have been great. To find people I really connected with and found common interests with helped me come out of my shell a little more. My friends pushed me to study harder and get better grades but also to relax, have fun and make some of the best memories I’ve had in my life.

My struggles didn’t end with just the transition, however, as my classes did not take it easy on me. I probably shouldn’t have expected any less from a STEM major, but you live and you learn. My biggest challenge of the semester was learning to manage time well, a skill that I haven’t quite mastered yet but have made great strides in improving. By buckling down at the end and getting through finals week with quite a bit of coffee and the much-needed break of Cram Jam, I was able to finish the semester with all A’s and B’s in my courses.

Overall, my first semester has been a roller coaster but one I have thoroughly enjoyed. The spring semester isn’t looking any easier class-wise with four lectures, two labs, and one breakout session for physics, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. As crazy as it sounds, the thing I’m most excited about, besides hanging out with my new friends again, is the opportunity to do better than I did my first semester. I didn’t do badly by any stretch of the imagination, but I know what I’m capable of, and I think that I can achieve more in the spring semester and in the years to come. One thing I learned for sure is that this is only the beginning of my college experience and my time here at KSU, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

– Ben Johnson

Photos by Jason Getz

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit