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Young engineer finds time to help others


David Russo likes to stay on the run. Literally. Russo, 22, of Chappaqua, finished this month’s New York City Marathon in 3 hours 28 minutes.

“It hurt a lot,” he recalled. “I think I paced it perfectly, but I was drained. It was an amazing feeling.”

Russo, who’s majoring in mechanical engineering with minors in biology and math, interned last summer with Raytheon in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he began training for the marathon.

Running isn’t this senior’s only athletic passion, though. Russo, a three-sport athlete while in high school, started the Binghamton Bowling Club as a freshman. He also enjoys surfing.

Beyond sports, Russo has also been a volunteer with Harpur’s Ferry since he was a freshman. This year, he’s an ambulance driver.

“My main goal is to do things to help people,” he said. That shines through in other ways, too.

Russo, who was a resident assistant for two years, has also been a peer adviser for Watson Student Services since his junior year. He’s active in the group Engineers Without Borders, which is working on a project to develop a water supply and purification system for a medical facility being built in Peru.

James Pitarresi, professor of mechanical engineering, advises the Engineers Without Borders chapter.

“What’s amazing about David is an incredible maturity for a young man and a sense of purpose,” Pitarresi said. “He just seems like somebody who understands that he has talent and he’s so willing to give that back.”

Pitarresi said today’s engineering students seem more aware of societal and global issues than those of previous eras. Even within this group, though, Russo stands out.

“He uniquely combines strong academic performance with social consciousness and a desire to give back to society,” Pitarresi said.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08