Sterling Krone says he tries to live up to his name: to be striking, genuine, real. It hasn’t always been easy.
A native Coloradan from Westminster, Krone transferred to Colorado State University from Front Range Community College, just as he was turning 30. Diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, and suffering from panic attacks and anxiety disorder, Krone at first didn’t think he had a STEM college degree in him.
But he really, really wanted to be an engineer, and he found he could ace calculus and physics. With encouragement from his fiancée – also a CSU alumna – Krone took the plunge, enrolling in electrical engineering.
“It was kind of nerve-wracking at first. I thought all these younger kids were going to run circles around me,” Krone said.
He found his niche as an officer with a student organization, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) club. His first year on campus, Krone won a design prize for creating an accelerometer- and LED-outfitted bicycle jacket, which he made for himself to keep from getting clipped by cars at night. From there, he became the club’s events coordinator, president and vice president. He is the founder of the IEEE “Dumpster Dive Challenge,” in which students, hackathon-style, pull an all-nighter creating electronics donated from CSU surplus for cash prizes. He also recently worked with IEEE High Plains Section to create the first-ever career fair for electrical and computer engineering students.
Krone was at first shy about his disabilities, but he found the right venue for opening up about them, when he became a Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering Ambassador. He loved giving tours, and spending time with younger peers who were struggling. He started sharing his story with prospective students. Parents would pull him aside and whisper, “My son has dyslexia, too. Can you talk to him?”
“It was amazing. Those types of conversations would really refuel me,” Krone said.
Stubborn by nature, at first Krone thought he could manage his disabilities alone. But when his anxiety became too much to bear, schoolwork got harder, and in one frightening incident, he briefly lost his vision, he turned to Resources for Disabled Students for help. He also found a warm, supportive community within his department, from fellow students, and from staff like Olivera Notaros, Carol Bernard, Andrea Leland and Karen Ungerer.
For two straight years, Krone has won the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Outstanding Contribution Award – a sterling testament to everything he has accomplished. After graduation, Krone will stay at CSU, working toward his master’s degree under the mentorship of Professor Kevin Lear.