Student Spotlight: Five Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Students
Meet five young women excelling in the Parks College's Mechanical Engineering Program.
Five seniors, Reagan Anspaugh, Grace Flaherty, Elaina Johnson, Crystal Kimama, and Sarah Kirsch, are on the same senior design team this year. Their project, which they’ll work on from August 2021 to April 2022, is a self-sufficient mechanical system that will release deicing agents on driveways, walkways and roads to make the winter season safer and more convenient for individuals in snowy regions. The device will be controlled by the owner using a remote, with the further goal of converting it to a fully autonomous device. The team foresees this device helping older individuals and those with disabilities to have more independence, but sees broad applications for a larger target market.
The team’s Senior Design advisor, Sridhar Condoor, Ph.D., noted that “This team is intelligent, technically competent and socially responsible. I am so proud to mentor this team of young women who are committed to making a difference in the society using their knowledge and skills."
Each of these students shared insights about their experience at Parks College, interest in the field of mechanical engineering and future career goals.
Reagan Anspaugh is from Keller, Texas and began her time as a SLU at the Madrid campus, studying abroad during her first semester. Upon her return to St. Louis, she appreciated the tight-knit community of Parks College and how invested faculty and staff are in students’ success. Currently serving as the president of the Association of Parks College Students, Reagan highlighted the flexibility of the mechanical engineering degree, which allows her to pursue many different opportunities. She plans to use her affinity for optimizing systems to work in consulting or systems engineering.
Grace Flaherty appreciates that her time at Parks College has allowed her to grow, while feeling supported by faculty that encourage and support students to continually improve. Hailing from Barrington, Rhode Island and one of nine children (and the third daughter pursuing engineering), Grace’s support system is broad and has taught her that she is entirely capable of success. In St. Louis, and in addition to her studies, Grace works four jobs on and off campus, and notes that prioritizing her mental health is the key to her success. In the future, Grace plans to pursue software development and focus on her programming skills she has gained over the past four years.
Elaina Johnson, from Breese, Illinois, found engineering through her desire to improve people’s lives. With three brothers who are also engineers, she was privy to the interesting things they were learning in school and decided to follow a similar path. She notes that one of the things that drew her to SLU was the campus itself--green space within a city--and the variety of things to do around town in St. Louis. Elaina’s career goals are in drafting and design, with the hope to someday return for graduate school and become a college professor. She has been inspired by her work in SLU’s Tutoring Center and as a teaching assistant to help build the next generation of engineers.
Crystal Kimama came to SLU from Des Moines, Iowa and is now enrolled in the accelerated BS-MS program. She plans to complete her master’s thesis next year under the mentorship of Dr. Jenna Gorlewicz in the CHROME Lab, where she’s been contributing to research in wearable haptics since June 2021. Crystal notes that mechanical engineering will allow her to not just apply her math and science talents in her future career, but also just as importantly, it allows her to explore innovation and creativity. During her time at Parks, Crystal highlights the support from faculty, the numerous research labs and opportunities, and the SLU community as strengths of the program. In addition to her academics, Crystal is involved in SLU’s Society of Women Engineers chapter and is a former Engineering and Innovation Learning Community resident.
Sarah Kirsch hails from Ballwin, Missouri. Sarah entered Parks College as a biomedical engineering student. She moved into the mechanical engineering program to take advantage of the diversity of the curriculum and broad spectrum of real-world applications that allow her to pursue more diverse career options following graduation. Now in her senior year, Sarah has thrived in the mechanical engineering program, noting that she particularly enjoyed her mechatronics class with Dr. Ma and hands-on learning with robotics and programmable logic computers. Since her sophomore year, Sarah has been an intern for a company in industry automation, working with projects ranging from workstation and conveyor designs to vision system applications and arm tooling designs for robots. In the future, Sarah plans to learn more about the broad applications her mechanical engineering degree allows, and follow wherever her passion may lead.
For more information about Parks College’s Senior Design projects and previous years’ symposiums, please visit https://www.slu.edu/parks/current-students/senior-design.php.