College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Trevor Friedl’s computer engineering career takes flight

Trevor Friedl surrounded by drones as he is sitting on a chair.

Trevor Friedl, a senior in computer engineering, spends his school days working with complex computer systems, precision tools and mathematical algorithms, but during his free time, he lets his creative side loose as a musician and the president of the Groove Drumline Club, a group he has been a part of since his first year at Iowa State. 

“Music is the one hobby I have that I use as a creative outlet; three hours a day, two days a week, I can scratch that part of my brain with Groove,” Friedl says. 

He has been playing some form of percussion since fifth grade, and in Groove, he plays the snare drum. He helps write the music the club performs and works with the other members on their craft. He has never had formal lessons but has learned a lot from practice. 

Self-teaching and problem-solving have always been a love of Friedl’s. Growing up, he always had a fascination with computers: how they worked, how they were built and what they could do, so when it came time to think about college, he knew engineering was the path. 

He knew about Iowa State because the College of Engineering has such a diverse range of majors he said, and once he visited the campus, it was a done deal. 

“I fell in love when I visited,” Friedl says. “I am a first-generation college student; I had no idea what to expect, and the team running the tour did a great job showing the exciting parts of the engineering program specifically. Iowa State’s commitment to innovation allowed me to see myself there for four years.” 

When he isn’t drumming or in class, Friedl works as an engineering research assistant, helping build a machine learning model to accurately detect imperfections in motor cylinder heads by just an image. It has been a priceless experience for him, learning how to work on an engineering team and understanding the business and administration side as well. 

As his time at Iowa State ends, he knows how valuable his time in Ames has been. 

“It is seriously an irreplaceable experience. When I came to Iowa State, I didn’t know anyone in the engineering industry, and I was nervous,” Friedl says. “It wasn’t a straight line to where I am now, but I would not trade this experience for anything in the world. All the challenges and struggles I’ve faced have all brought me to now, and I know the value of my education here.”

Friedl plans to return to his home state of Illinois to work at Thales Visionix as an embedded software engineer, working on mounted displays for pilot helmets, allowing them to see artifacts in the sky.

No matter what beat Friedl decides to drum to next, he already knows to appreciate the good things in life. 

“Time goes by so fast, and it is hard sometimes to put your head up and appreciate what’s around you. I’ve definitely learned to lift my head and enjoy the little things like walks to campus or the Campanile going off every hour. Even when you’re struggling, take a step back and enjoy the good things in life.”