Rececca Patush finds community and opportunities as a member of Materials Advantage
When Rebecca Patush first declared her major in materials engineering, she decided to join Materials Advantage (MA)…because, well, everyone in MSE joined MA.
“I joined MA because, at the time, it just seemed like what all the materials engineering students did,” Patush said. “Anyone involved in the department was also involved in MA, and I knew that I wanted to be involved too.”
Patush, now a senior, has stayed in MA because she found a community she belonged to that offered outreach, research and networking opportunities.
As a freshman, she witnessed the paths that upperclassmen in MA took and was able to freely ask them questions. And now, as a senior, the new members are asking her those questions.
“Now that I am a senior, my role has switched in that underclassmen are seeing the path I am taking and asking me questions about what I do and what my plans are. I enjoy sharing my experiences and advice with other students,” Patush said. “I’ve learned more about my field and different paths I can take from the range of general MA meetings. We’ve had meetings with guest speakers from industry or even professors from the department that are always teaching us more about what is out there.”
MA has provided her with a broader perspective on materials engineering and connected her with like-minded individuals who shared her enthusiasm for the field.
“MA provides many networking and outreach opportunities. I’ve met so many people through MA general meetings and conference travel, and it has helped me feel like I belong in materials engineering,” Patush said. “MA offers outreach activities in and outside of the University. We’ve had students travel to middle school science classes and participate in events for young women in STEM. We also put a lot of effort into sharing materials engineering with other ISU students, often through the First-Year Honors Program or with undecided engineering students. Many people don’t join the MSE department until after their first year, and often, our outreach is the thing that convinced them to join.”
To students undecided about MSE or MA, Patush suggests focusing on two things: the community you want to be a part of and the path you want to take after college.
“My favorite thing about our program is the size of our department and our academically driven students. I feel comfortable and welcomed in the faculty offices and feel like I belong in the labs,” Patush said. “Materials engineering allows you to go into several industries, but I would suggest that you learn about the types of jobs materials engineers have and see if you could see yourself in those roles.”