Quan T. Usher

Hometown – Decatur, GA
Undergrad – University of Michigan, BE, Mechanical Engineering
Current – Product Management, Xylem Water Technology

Growing up in a family of six, Quan often felt he was cast aside. In addition, only one person in the family had a vehicle, so his extracurricular responsibilities were hard to manage. At the age of thirteen, he started riding public transit unaccompanied, which was intimidating, but in doing so he says he found his independence, which propelled him towards success. Quan’s favorite word is grit. He defines it as having a passion for long-term goals, and maintaining an indomitable spirit to obtain them. Quan always see the opportunity in the most dire situations and believes optimism is key.

Quan’s relationship with his father is complicated to say the least. He could count the amount of times they’ve met on one hand, but out of all of them he always remembered one jeer he made while trying to get him to play football: “The only thing you’ve got to lose is your life, and you got that for free.” Ironically, this quote resounded with Quan and inspired him to take risks and make the most out of the life he’s been given. At the age of 7, Quan learned that his father had been incarcerated. Their communication has been even more estranged since, but it reassured him of one thing. He was not destined to be a statistic. In his endeavors, Quan has learned how truly vast the world can be beyond one’s comfort zone. Since then, broadening his horizons and seeking new experiences have been driving factors behind his actions. Quan not only believes in working hard, but having fun while doing so.

Robotics has been an important part of Quan’s high school career. Since he started the team his sophomore year, that simple action unlocked several subsequent opportunities from traveling to a World Championship in St. Louis Missouri, to nabbing an internship at Georgia Tech. Robotics had become a passion for Quan, and he believes it is the perfect solution to bring more African Americans into STEM. His robotics team obtained a grant for $4000 to start a team at his community’s local elementary schools. In addition, he also volunteers at a monthly “Science Night Out” teaching STEM mini-lessons to kids.

Quan plans to attend college and study astronautical engineering. In addition to learning how to make spacecraft, he hopes to obtain his pilot’s license in order to potentially become an astronaut and eventually conduct research at the International Space Station for NASA.