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Chemical Engineering Provides Opportunities for Standout Student

February 23, 2018
Woman works on equipment in engineering lab
Chemical engineering student Emily Lynch adjusts a piece of equipment in the advanced energy materials lab in the Engineering Building.

Emily Lynch had her heart set on studying chemical engineering, and that determination brought her 1,700 miles west to the University of Wyoming.

Originally from Saint Leonard, Md., she made her way to the Cowboy State in 2015 to pursue the challenging major.

“When I was looking for colleges, I soon realized I had to go out-of-state, since there was only one college in Maryland that offered chemical engineering as a major and a marching band,” she says. “I have some family in Colorado and they mentioned UW had a great engineering program. I ended up visiting during my Thanksgiving break, and really liked the atmosphere and weather–there's no humidity.”

Lynch, who is a junior, certainly has settled in at the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS). She was a founding member and is the executive vice president of the Phi Sigma Rho colony, a social sorority for women in engineering and engineering technology. She’s involved with the student chapter Society of Women Engineers and is the president of UW’s American Institute of Chemical Engineers group. She also has a key role in Associate Professor Patrick Johnson's Materials Research Group.

The pursuit of an engineering education wasn’t always at the top of her mind, though.

“I have a strong interest in aircraft, due to visiting the local Naval Air Station while growing up as a kid,” Lynch says. “Up until about my sophomore year of high school, I wanted to be a pilot in the Navy. After taking chemistry courses, I decided to study chemical engineering and materials engineering.”

Her excellent work in the field landed her an opportunity to participate in the National Science Foundation’s “Research Experiences for Undergraduates” program in the summer of 2017. She worked on a metamaterial project with University of California San Diego Assistant Professor Boubacar Kanté.

“For the summer, I worked on two projects: fabrication of contacts for a LIDAR (light detection and ranging) system, and fabrication of metasurfaces for solar concentrators,” she says. “My lab was basically a clean room for most of the summer, where I dressed in a white overall garment, a hood, boots and two pairs of gloves. I also worked on photolithography, a type of printing on micro and nanoscales. Overall, the experience was unforgettable.”

Lynch can lean on her unique experience and strong technical background from the CEAS to springboard into a rewarding career.

“For my career, I hope to work in the aeronautical and aerospace industry on aircraft materials and design,” she says. “My plan is to intern with NAVAIR, Boeing, or another aeronautical company, and then work for that company after graduation. I would eventually like to go to graduate school for materials science and engineering at the University of Michigan or University of California Santa Barbara.”

The lengthy trip across the nation for her education has proven to be very beneficial, Lynch says.

“UW has many opportunities for everyone to get involved,” she says. “You can travel to new cities for conferences, network with students and professionals and leave your own mark on the university.”

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