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Dreams Come True

Saturday, June 3, 2017 - 12:26


Photo Credit: 

Spencer Bruttig


Meet Madeline Dippel, a mechanical engineer from Santa Rosa, California, graduating from the UC Santa Barbara College of Engineering with honors and a university distinction. Madeline set out to realize her dream of becoming a mechanical engineer from a young age. “It was honestly my dream since I was 8 years old to be a technical engineer,” she said. “I was able to really gain an education here at UCSB. I worked hard to become the engineer that I always wanted to be.”

When asked why she chose mechanical engineering, she said: “It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s a very versatile type of engineering where you can specialize from materials to thermal analysis. Ideally, I would like to become a design engineer and help build things to better the world.”

At UCSB, Madeline has been a very active member of the Society of Women Engineers and was even its president for two years. As president, she was able to organize professional development events, and she reached out to many companies for the society’s “Evening with Industry” event.

She was also involved in the Regents and Chancellor’s Scholars Association as the community service chair and faculty liaison. “I met like-minded people, discussed ideas, and helped students become involved with research,” she said. Her own research included involvement with the Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) program. She worked 40 hours a week over the summer, testing different compositions of thermal barrier coatings on jet engines.

One of her mentors was professor Levi, who became an adviser for his research; Levi “allowed me to work in his lab, which really helped me attain my first internship,” Madeline said. She added: “Professor Tyler Susko, who is in charge of my capstone program, has really helped me as well. He’s very involved with students and is passionate about what he does.”

Madeline’s capstone project involves an interdisciplinary team of 13 computer engineers, electrical engineers and mechanical engineers total. Together they are building a solar-powered, Wi-Fi-enabled camera prototype for FLIR that works night and day and uses a lot less energy and costs significantly less than other camera systems on the market.

Her favorite memory at UCSB: being accepted into the Bachelor of Science/Master of Science program a few months after her junior year. “I had just successfully completed my most difficult year,” she said. “It was awesome to realize that I was not only on my way to receiving my undergraduate degree but also going to continue my education in the graduate program at UCSB.”

Madeline wasn’t always set to go to UCSB. “I originally SIRed to UC San Diego,” she said, “but I went to orientation and just didn’t feel as if it was my place. I realized I had made a huge mistake and would be much happier at UCSB.” She added: “Although I changed my mind late, the (UCSB) admissions office welcomed me in, which helped reaffirm my confidence that this was the right place to be. I’m infinitely glad I made that decision. I believe at any other school I would have been just doing engineering and wouldn’t have received a better, more diverse education out of it.”

Describing UCSB in one word, she said: “balanced.”

“UCSB is the perfect combination of a beautiful campus, people that are friendly, open and welcoming, and a huge center of research and learning,” she said. “The university maintains a great balance of being technically focused and broad. People at UCSB don’t just have one thing they’re doing. Even being an engineering major, which consumed most of my life, I was still able to make time for running, going to concerts and other hobbies."

She concluded saying: “If I could give my freshman self some advice, I’d say to take more advantage of classes and don’t be afraid to try new things. It wasn’t until after my sophomore year that I expanded my knowledge in different ways.”

Madeline currently works part-time on the mechanical engineering design team at an automotive tech company called Continental. There she assists in parts of the mechanical design for a High Flash Lidar sensor, which will eventually be used for autonomous driving. She will be pursuing her graduate degree at UCSB in the fall.

Written by Bret Rodriguez