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Student Stories

Fresh Encounters: Sammy Mansfield

Sammy truly knows how to "Think Different." Here, freshman Sammy Mansfield shares how just one conversation led him to his current work on an electric bike that would continually regenerate energy...

Tell me a little bit about your journey to the Academy? 

My journey to the Academy actually started when I walked by the Garage during a standard USC tour. At that moment, I was completely intrigued and even obsessed with the notion of being able to be in the Academy one day. Before looking into the Academy, I didn’t really know what I wanted in an undergraduate program; however, once I learned more about the Academy, I knew that it was exactly what I had wanted – the ability to analyze, rethink, and create.

Describe a passion project you’re currently working? 

One project I am currently working on is an electric bike that would be able to continually regenerate energy, eliminating the necessity to ever plug the bike into a wall. It is a very intriguing idea because it is so perfectly sustainable, yet figuring out whether it is actually possible is the fun part. Even if it does not work, the mental gymnastics are always difficult and weirdly exciting.

What inspired the project?

The thing that inspired this project was a completely random conversation I had with a woman earlier this year. The topic of electric bikes came up (she has one), and the idea sort of came to me in class a couple days later. In fact, I still have the original drawing on a random handout my teacher had given us that class.

Is there a leader or mentor who inspires you? 


I don’t know if there is a specific leader or mentor who inspires me; however, I have recently been thinking about the 1990s Apple slogan which reads, “Think Different”. I feel that certain historical figures like Einstein or Picasso, who both happen to be part of that particular Apple ad campaign, have always inspired me because they were seemingly able to deconstruct societal expectations.

Is there an inspirational quote you live by?

“To create, one must first question everything.”
“Think Different”

What are three goals you have this year?

  1. Make my first 3D model
  2. Spend less of my dining dollars on Coffee Bean
  3. Become far better at time management

Describe one thing most people don’t know about you?

One thing most people don’t know about me is that I have a strange obsession with browsing very random pages on Wikipedia.

What is one thing your parents taught you that you’d like to share?

The one thing my parents taught me that I would like to share is that they didn’t care what I ended up doing or where I ended up going to college, as long as I was happy. This took a lot of pressure off of my shoulders going through high school and helps me during daily life. I just try to enjoy each assignment or project I get, not worrying too much about the grades.

Fun Facts

What are the essential things you always keep in your backpack?
Headphones, pencils, pens, Copics (if you know, you know)

Favorite app or website?

Favorite class at USC and why?
Rapid Visualization, because we get to draw many different types of objects and things in a very low stress environment. The class is more about the process of getting better than having to create perfect drawings. We just get to put on headphones and draw with almost whatever we really want.

Favorite way to de-stress:
Going to the climbing gym.

Guilty Pleasure?

Iced Mocha from the Coffee Bean.

Thank you, Sammy!