Isabella Mendoza: "I truly believe that you should follow your passion, and not let yourself get intimidated by what you don't know."
Mechanical Engineering, PhD Candidate
Why did you choose to come to Mines? What have you enjoyed most about being here?
I came to Mines to follow my professor when she moved institutions, and I am so glad that I did! Mines has been an absolutely incredible experience so far. The collaborative atmosphere on campus is tangible, and I know that I've made some lifelong friends and colleagues in the short time I've been here. Chatting with faculty and staff and really getting to know members of the Mines community has to be one of my favorite things so far because everyone has an interesting story to tell.
Tell us about something you're working on right now that you find exciting, fulfilling or challenging.
Right now, the goal of my PhD is to be able to identify sub-structure damage in carbon fiber-reinforced composites that are invisible to the naked eye. This is very important for any composite-based aircraft components, which can be found in several aerospace and aeronautical applications. My goal is to make sure aviators and engineers can be kept safe and out of harm's way when it comes to the failure of such composites.
What communities, groups or organizations—on- and off-campus—are important to you and why?
As VP of the Graduate Student Government (GSG), I've found it extremely important to advocate for members of the graduate student community. Too often, I've heard stories of graduate students in difficult situations where they feel like they have nowhere to go and no one to support them. As an active and vocal member of GSG, I want to ensure that every graduate student is treated with the respect that they deserve, and give them the courage to advocate for themselves when there is a problem.
What are your plans for the future? What's your dream job?
My dream job would be to be a research professor with my own research lab. Thanks to my research advisor, I've been able to discover things about myself I never even knew. She introduced me to a field I never even knew existed, and beyond that, excel at it! I truly feel like I have found my passion and I want to share it with the world. I want to share it with young girls who never thought they could be aerospace engineers, and more than anything I want to share it with women in my home country, the Philippines, to inspire them to pursue careers in STEM.
Tell us something about you that most people would be surprised to learn.
I'm getting a PhD in mechanical engineering without having ever taken any of the basic ME classes (statics, dynamics, mechanics of materials, etc). Before college, I didn't even know what calculus was! Everything that I have learned, I did through hard work as well as with the help of some of the most awesome classmates and friends anyone could ask for. I truly believe that you should follow your passion, and not let yourself get intimidated by what you don't know. At the end of the day, you can learn anything, and if you love it enough, the knowledge will come with time.