Meet Chester Bixler, veteran and ECE student
The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is proud to honor those Hokies who personify the spirit of Virginia Tech's motto: Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). For Hokie veterans, living this motto is true is more ways than one.
Meet, Chester Bixler. Bixler lived most of his young adult life in Sebring, Florida until joining the Marine Corps at the age of 18. He is currently earning his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering with a major in energy and power electronics systems. Although nontraditional, Bixler's path to Virginia Tech ECE is full of drive, focus and determination. We want to thank veteran student Chester Bixler for his service.
Learn more about Bixler's journey from our Q&A:
What branch of the military were you in?
I served in the United States Marine Corps Infantry.
How long did you serve?
I signed up for the Marines right after high school and I served from June 23, 2013 – June 23, 2017. I was stationed in Camp Pendleton, California and my unit was 2nd Battalion 4th Marines, commonly known as the “Magnificent Bastards” in which I was a part of Fox Company.
Tell us a little about the specific roles or jobs you performed.
My job in the Marine Corps was an Anti-Tank Infantry Assaultman. I became an expert in demolitions, shoulder launched rockets, and breaching into homes by explosives, physical strength, or using a shotgun. Later in my career, I became a Team Leader for Assaultmen. When I advanced to Team Leader I began to instruct, advise, and manage three other Assaultmen. Near the end of my time in service, I was recognized for my proficiency in explosives, and I was recruited to teach Division Schools. Division Schools is a schoolhouse setting where I led Marines in physical training and instructed live fire rocket ranges and demolition ranges. I also taught how to properly breach a target dynamically (with explosives). I instructed over 40 junior Assaultmen from the other companies that were in 2nd Battalion 4th Marines, I gave power pointed lectures and hands on labs recreating explosives, proper etiquette when handling explosives, and misfire procedures for rockets and disposal of ordinance.
How did the military help prepare you for college?
The military helped me prepare for college by forcing me to understand the true meaning of determination, drive, and focus. Joining the Marine Corps changed my lifestyle and outlook on life. Undergoing the transition from civilian to a Marine, I began picking up structural habits on managing my timelines to meet deadlines. My job required me to stay on top of the material needed and to look out for new information so we could become more efficient. Today, I use a lot of the skills I learned in the military to keep me motivated and focused on school.
What did you enjoy most about serving in the military?
I really enjoyed the cultural experiences I gained by traveling to different countries. I always missed home, but being able to explore Singapore, Hong Kong, Okinawa, South Korea, and Malaysia was such an eye-opening experience. Seeing third world societies in-person really changed my outlook and perceptions of life. Outside of traveling, I made a group of friends that I consider family. We live all over the United States, but we keep in touch by meeting up and playing video games together in our down time.
Why did you chose Virginia Tech?
I decided to come to Virginia Tech because it is a prestigious school for engineering. I became even more interested in VT when I learned the school was formed and has been heavily influenced by military culture. I also noticed how intact VT was with the D.O.D. and other private military contractors. My passion for engineering is to somehow improve our military by either helping recreate individual micro grids that support active operations or eventually help lead to new gear and technology that could save lives.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
When I have spare time from school, I really enjoy spending quality time with my family. Usually, we go on family walks around the trails near our house, visit Virginia Tech's Drill field and play kickball with our son Connor or spend time watching family movies together. My wife Miranda and I also just welcomed our baby boy Caden into the world about a month ago. Outside of spending time with my family, I enjoy hanging out with the friends I have made here at Virginia Tech in the ECE department.