Madison Lucey: Current Central Penn College Student, Future Amazon Engineer

To say Madison Lucey was prepared for college would be an understatement. After graduating from Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA) high school in June, she entered the summer term at Central Penn College already a sophomore.

How is that possible?

Throughout her junior and senior years at CCA, she took college courses at nearby institutions, along with an AP course in computer science. In total, she was able to transfer 36 credits to Central Penn before setting foot on the Summerdale campus.

If that weren’t enough, she’s also an Amazon Future Engineer, a designation that comes with a yearly $10,000 scholarship. To qualify for the award, students must be from underrepresented communities and planning to study computer science. Lucey has been interested in that subject since she was 14 when she took classes at Harvard (!) through its free online platform. Lucey also is an official TEDx speaker and she gave her talk on “How to Truly Solve a Problem.”

Lucey is off to a fast start at Central Penn. The Milford, Pa., native has taken a full load of 15 credits during her first three terms. As a residential student, she has immersed herself in extracurricular activities. She is the president of the Central Penn Players Drama club, a writer for the Knightly News Media Club and a member of the Knight Way.

We recently caught up with Lucey to learn more about her journey from CCA to Central Penn…

Can you talk about your interest in STEM? Was there a class or teacher in middle school / high school that fueled your interest in science and technology?

My interest in STEM began at age 14 when I started studying computer science from Harvard’s online courses. I obtained a certificate in Harvard’s Python Programming for Research course and my passion for computer science continued throughout high school. My AP computer science teacher, Mr. Michael Courtright, was the teacher who most fueled my interest in science and technology.

What was a favorite STEM-related project or assignment you did in middle school / high school?

In high school, I helped build an automated plant seeder. For this engineering internship project, I served in the capacity of team leader. My team built this for use in AgWorks, the largest educational aquaponics laboratory in the country. The end result was a successfully functioning automated plant seeder that was solar-powered. It also incorporated artificial intelligence and machine learning, so that it was self-sustainable, autonomous and mobile. I

then demonstrated this robot live to the entire Pennsylvania House Education Committee. They were very impressed, and my demonstration served to advocate for additional opportunities for girls in STEM.

Note: You can watch a video of the presentation here.

When did you hear about the Amazon Future Engineer program? How was the application process?

After taking and passing the AP Computer Science exam, the College Board informed me about my eligibility to apply for the Amazon Future Engineer scholarship/internship. I discussed this with my teacher Michael Courtright, and he encouraged me to pursue it.

The application process was straightforward, and it asked questions about my accomplishments, inventions and future goals.

When did you hear you were accepted?

I found out that I was accepted on March 23, 2020, through a surprise FedEx overnight delivery. The box was marked “overnight special delivery from Amazon.” The first thing that I noticed when I read the label was that it said Amazon Future Engineer program, and my heart began to pound. That’s when I realized that it was regarding the Amazon scholarship that I had applied for earlier in the school year.

When I opened the box, it had a congratulatory letter for the $40,000 scholarship and several gifts consisting of an Amazon Engineer hydro flask, beanie, pop socket and other documents. The letter also extended a wonderful invitation for me to be a paid software development engineer intern at the Amazon headquarters.

I still have the box stored in a special place because it was a truly life-changing event.

You’re an IT major. What’s your ultimate career goal?

My ultimate career goal is to work at Amazon as a software development engineer. I also plan to obtain a Juris Doctor degree.

What’s your must-have tech device(s)?

My Lenovo ThinkBook i7 laptop, iPhone 11 Pro Max and my Amazon Fire Tablet.

Who are some of your heroes (tech or otherwise)?

I have two tech heroes. The first one is Jeff Bezos and the second one is the late Steve Jobs. These are two heroes who have been my personal inspiration for many years.

What are some of the reasons you decided to come to Central Penn?

I chose to come to Central Penn because of its partnership with the high school that I attended. Through that partnership, Central Penn offered to accept my dual-enrollment classes toward college credits. Additionally, I was very impressed with how Central Penn offers an accelerated degree.

I also liked that Central Penn offers a 2+3 law degree program with Widener University. This enables students to eliminate one full year of law studies toward getting their Juris Doctor degree. Since I am studying for my bachelor of science degree in Information Technology, I chose not to utilize the 2+3 law program opportunity. However, I remain very impressed with it as an opportunity for Central Penn students. With all that Central Penn has to offer, for me, this college was an easy choice in that it stood out among the others.

Can you talk about your experience at Central Penn College so far?

Once I started taking my classes here, I felt even more confident that I had indeed made the best choice. This is because of many outstanding professors, such as Harve Tannenbaum and William Hummel. They are outstanding professors that any information technology student would be lucky to have. Their classes have broadened my horizons and expanded my knowledgebase in the field of computer science. They are always willing to take extra time to sit down with students and clarify the subject material. For this, I am very grateful.

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