Former Marine Finds Educational Support at The Citadel

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Aaron Budd joined the U.S. Marines right out high school. For more than nine years, he was stationed all over the world in a variety of jobs with the Marines – everything from working with the Secret Service on a presidential security detail to ensuring bombs actually detonated after being dropped on an area.
Budd intended to retire from the Marines. But when doctors discovered he had a brain tumor, his military career came to end and Budd was medically discharged. For about a year, Budd really reflected on his next steps and decided he needed a college degree to find a new post-military career.
Budd, originally from North Carolina, came back to the East Coast to be closer to family. As he settled in the Charleston area with his wife and daughter, Budd discovered The Citadel and its engineering program.
Using his military educational benefits, Budd enrolled with The Citadel. Now a junior, he’s majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in physics. This year, Budd worked closely with Assistant Professor Jason Howison as part of the college’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience program.
Budd’s work involved setting up a flow visualization experiment using particle image velocimetry. In short, he’s capturing images of particles being injected into a flow field to measure their velocity.
This kind of research isn’t new, but it does help with the fundamentals of fluid dynamics, Budd says. And he’s hoping it will look good on his application for a summer internship with SpaceX, which designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. Budd’s goal is to work for a company like SpaceX or even NASA.
“I need to build a solid foundation that sets me up for the opportunity to get me there,” he says. “So I asked: what do I need to study?”
Photo: Particles flowing over cylindrical obstruction as part of Budd’s work with Dr. Howison
Photo: Particles flowing over cylindrical obstruction as part of Budd’s work with Dr. Howison
The father of two is finding just the help he needs at The Citadel. The college is veteran-friendly and Budd says the professors really go out of their way to ensure students understand the coursework and concepts.
“There are a lot resources there if you need help, including the Veterans Center and the Academic Support Center,” Budd says. “There’s a good team that’s very helpful.”
For the seventh consecutive year, The Citadel was named the No.1 Public College in the South offering up to a master’s degree from the U.S. News & World Report. The report also named The Citadel the No. 1 public college for veterans, and the undergraduate engineering programs were ranked amongst the best in the nation (No. 19).
To learn more about The Citadel’s Engineering program, visit