INTENTIONALLY OR NOT, Isaac Johnson embraced the College of Engineering slogan “Engineer … and something more” during his time at the University of Iowa.
The 2023 electrical engineering graduate leveraged his college career to build a solid and diverse foundation inside and outside of the classroom. This meant excelling in school and exploring other interests through activities and organizations.
“Everything built its way up to my senior year,” the Dubuque native said. “Getting out of my comfort zone and finding opportunities to lead really prepared me for the next phase of my life.”
Some activities were more leisurely or satisfied a curiosity, such as pickleball, spikeball, Scuba certification, ballroom dancing, and a negotiations class.
Other organizations were central to Johnson’s life. In the Iowa chapter of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), a student electrical engineering club, Johnson rose to president, spearheading a variety of events and mentoring younger students. Working as resident assistant for three years offered key lessons in leadership and managing others.
Rashad Hanna, a Burge Hall Coordinator, served as Johnson’s supervisor when he was a resident assistant.
“Isaac is the kind of leader that every supervisor wants on their team,” Hanna said. “He’s passionate about seeing students succeed, and his interactions with everyone come from a genuine place of care. Isaac embodies being a student leader amongst his peers by setting examples, having a heart of humility, and using his creativity to problem-solve challenges.”
By far the most meaningful endeavor was a college-based Christian ministry called the Salt Company, in which Johnson engaged in a variety of capacities including Bible study leader.
“The thing that made the biggest impact has been being part of the Salt Company,” Johnson said. “It has changed my life here on campus.”
Faith and family were constants that helped carry Johnson on his busy journey through college. A mind for engineering and a love for interacting with people have also served him well.
“Isaac’s proactive and positive approach to his engineering education have allowed him to succeed inside and outside of the classroom,” said Tyler Bell, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. “Simply put, he approaches engineering, problem solving, and collaboration with a confident excitement that is hard to teach.”
Isaac is one of three Johnson brothers to attend UI and the second brother to graduate with an engineering degree. “I always liked the idea of electrical energy and how energy flows,” said Johnson, noting his father was also an electrical engineer. “I want to understand how our devices work.”
As Johnson looks to life after college, he has a job as a systems engineer with Collins Aerospace, based in Cedar Rapids, serving as a liaison between Collins engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard with a focus on displays and systems in the Chinook helicopter.
In the long term, Johnson wants to work on the frontier of technology creating opportunities for humans to do things they have not before. The foundation built in the College of Engineering and at the University of Iowa has prepared him for that path. “Since before college started, people said, ‘college goes so quickly,’” Johnson said. “And it is so true. If you make the most of every single hour, every single day, you will get the most of the experience. I enjoyed every bit.”