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February 8, 2023

Alumni Spotlight: Joe Marziale’22 (Physics and Mathematics)

Joe Marziale photo

Engineering for Success

Every engineering student wants to be successful, to do that they will need to be disciplined, manage expectations and have fun. Joe Marziale’22 (Physics and Mathematics) is currently pursuing his PhD in Aerospace Engineering at the University at Buffalo (UB). Studying Aerospace Engineering can lead to career opportunities as engineers who primarily design aircraft, spacecraft, satellites and missiles. Marziale, who is a doctoral research assistant at UB, describes himself as a person who tries to “hit the target” as often as possible. That’s discipline.

We reached out to him to learn more about what he is learning and experiencing as a first-year doctoral student and how Roberts helped to shape his future forward.

Can you share about a recent accomplishment in your PhD program?

I recently helped write a paper submitted to the peer-reviewed International Journal of Damage Mechanics in October 2022 which presented a computer model that couples the phenomena of damage, elasticity, and heat conduction in order to model the fracture behavior of a ceramic material subjected to mechanical bending. In January 2023, he used this model to study the ways in which porosity weakened the ceramic’s mechanical properties. These applications and principles of science and mathematics help to solve real world problems and to create innovative new products and processes.

What role did your Roberts education play in helping you pursue your doctorate?

I always knew that my undergraduate degrees would fit nicely into computational mechanics, which is the topic I am specializing in. The thing is, there are a lot of competitive people in these fields. In some sense they are indistinguishable because they are all smart. What Roberts offers in an outstanding way are the intangibles. Like being a resident advisor (RA) where I learned how to manage a group, how to talk to people with confidence, how to plan ahead for the future, and how to help people reach middle grounds. In this role I learned how to manage expectations of others.

On the soccer team I had to focus differently when I was moved from JV to Varsity, which set expectations for me to emerge into a player who could compete at a higher level. It was the first time in my life where I was moved from a place where I was at the top of the hierarchy to a place where I was at the bottom. That said, I learned how to enjoy success with friends, but also what it meant to start over. This experience improved my life significantly, not just in soccer but in my friendships, my other interests, and of course my career. A couple months after the soccer season concluded, I declared early graduation and was accepted into every PhD program to which I applied!

Who was your favorite faculty member at Roberts and how did this person enrich your learning?

Associate Professor of Physics Dr. Candice Fazar was my favorite faculty member. I cannot speak highly enough of Dr. Fazar because of her dedication to the students. Something that is actually true of most faculty at Roberts is that they, in some sense, feel called to teach there. Dr. Fazar said to me once that to her, there are few greater joys than when a student has a big moment of realization. She calls them “aha moments.” Thankfully, her teaching genius and style helps students experience many “ahas.”

I am someone who learns concepts easily when given a set of relevant examples. Because she is so experienced with what she teaches, she is quickly able to formulate several examples that attack a problem at many different angles. This encourages a complete understanding of a physics problem. That said, I am very thankful for her as well as Dr. Gary Raduns, professor of mathematical sciences, and Edwin Hac, adjunct professor of physics.

What advice would you give someone thinking about applying to Roberts Wesleyan University?

Reach out to specific people who you are interested in working with as early as possible. Browse the Roberts website to find out who they are. Then, talk to them. Developing individual connections with faculty is very helpful during the admissions process and throughout your time at the institution. Ask questions like:

  • “What can I do to prepare for success under your advisement?”
  • “What classes do you recommend that I take in my first year?”
  • “What are the extracurricular activities available to me that might enhance my learning?”

And, have fun along the way! Here are some of my favorite photos from my time at Roberts:


Marziale (back row, center) with the other Miner Hall RA’sl after hosting the annual Mr. Miner competition.


Marziale (left) and friends in a group that they called “The Fellowship.” The groups was recording a funny podcast episode.


Marziale’s graduation photo with Alayna Munn ‘21 (Mathematics), his fiancee. The pair met in CMC 101 on the first day of his freshman year.


The soccer team joined in prayer after a win.


The Society of Physics Students celebrated at Agatina’s shortly after the Class Mech and E&M final exams.

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