FIRST Robotics, family tradition helped lead student to engineering

Jul 28, 2014

"Kettering is just so practical; it sets you up for a meaningful career and sets you apart from students graduating with the same degree from other universities."

A senior in Mechanical Engineering at Kettering University, Lisa Mitchell has never turned down an opportunity that could result in professional or personal growth.

Lisa Mitchell

Lisa Mitchell's Study Abroad blog

“One of my main goals is to finish writing my book before I graduate next year,” Mitchell said. “The experience I've had with my co-op programs has been phenomenal, and I want to convey to younger students, especially women and minorities entering college, that you don’t have to be a genius to become an engineer or enter the STEM fields. You can dream big and at the same time, you can be confident that achieving those dreams is completely feasible. The book will be my way to pass back the baton.”

As a high school student, Mitchell was involved in FIRST Robotics, which sparked her interest in technical careers. She wasn't completely convinced that she was cut out to be an engineer, but her father, a test pilot for Boeing, encouraged her to keep an open mind. He told her to consider mechanical engineering even if she wasn't sure about being an engineer because the degree can take you in so many directions--business, communications, management, etc. She was also encouraged by her sister, Marisa Mitchell, a 2011 Kettering alumna, who had a wonderful experience while in school. So she decided on engineering, and looked at several engineering colleges all over the country.

“It felt like Kettering chose me,” she said. "It was actually the only school I ended up applying to. Kettering is just so practical; it sets you up for a meaningful career and sets you apart from students graduating with the same degree from other universities. Co-op education strategically leverages the relationship between the classroom and the workforce. It allows students to utilize the content learned in the classroom and apply it in a meaningful way in a real world setting. Further than that, the co-op program gives you a chance to learn what you don’t want to do during school instead of figuring that out after school by landing a position you are not entirely fond of."

Mitchell credits her passion for engineering to the amazing experiences she’s been fortunate to have during her co-op sessions. Working in Research & Development with OMAX Corporation, a water-jet manufacturing company in Seattle, Washington, provided an entirely hands on, engineering experience. She was exposed to numerous engineering concepts/designs and developed the skills required for machine maintenance, prototype development, and data collection/analysis. During her current co-op with UTC Aerospace Systems, she serves as the Development Engineering Operations Lead Co-op within the Engine & Control Systems department. She is a liaison between project engineering and development operations, driving the development process of Fuel Controls through materials tracking, assembly, customer requirements, testing and shipping.

“My brain is not as naturally mechanically inclined as some of my peers, so I have to devote a lot of time to studying," she said. "I seldom finish studying before 1 a.m. and I often have to wake up around 6 a.m. to hit the books again if I want to do well on an exam. I get a lot less sleep over academic terms but I’m not bothered by it. I strive to balance good grades with meaningful involvement on campus, and a social life, so my commitments typically take precedence over sleep. As a Global Orientation Arrival Leader for international students, a Resident Assistant at campus village, a member of KSG: Academic Council, Triathlon Club, and a member of the Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority, ‘free-time’ is a word foreign to my vocabulary.”

Mitchell has one year until she graduates. Over this next year, she will be working on publishing her book, studying for the GMAT while considering masters programs, and looking at open positions within UTC Aerospace Systems and other companies. Her goal is to find a position where she can utilize her technical and communication skills to pursue global initiatives and business development. Regardless of her choice to pursue employment or further her education, Mitchell has a bright and successful STEM future ahead.

Written By Elena Moeller-Younger | Contact: Patrick Hayes - - (810) 762-9639