Kathleen Chou

Ph.D. student, University of Michigan



B.S.E. (Materials Science and Engineering, with a Program Certificate in Entrepreneurship), University of Michigan, 2013
M.S.E. (Materials Science and Engineering), University of Michigan, 2018
Ph.D. (Materials Science and Engineering) (in progress), University of Michigan

Industry experience

The Boeing Company – Materials Process and Physics Engineer, St. Louis, 2014-2016
The Boeing Company – Metallurgy Intern, Seattle, 2013
GE Aviation – Repair Materials Engineering Intern, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012

Honors and Awards

Richard and Eleanor Towner Prize for Distinguished Academic Achievement, University of Michigan, 2019
Silver Award, University of Michigan Materials Research Symposium, 2018
National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, 2016
J. Keith Brimacombe Presidential Scholarship, The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society (TMS), 2014
Hosford Endowed Scholarship, University of Michigan Department of Materials Science, 2012

How did your MSE degrees prepare you for your career?

My MSE degrees have prepared me for every one of my internships and jobs, since they have been all related to materials science! Early on in my undergraduate degree, I thought metallic materials were really interesting, and I got my first taste of the importance of metals working as an intern in the aerospace industry on jet engines. Improving the high temperature capability of materials in the engine affects how much fuel the engine will burn, so materials science and engineering is extremely important. That experience led to another internship and working full time in the aerospace industry, which were great learning opportunities. Now, my research in my PhD is also in metallurgy and focuses on developing new titanium alloys for aerospace and biomedical applications.

What were your favorite classes, events, and/or student organizations?

In my undergraduate degree, I was very involved in the Michigan Concrete Canoe team, which is a student design team working on building and racing lightweight canoes out of concrete that floats, and other student organizations such as Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honors society, and the Michigan Materials Society. These were great opportunities to practice the engineering design process, collaborate with other students, and develop my leadership skills. In graduate school, I've been involved in the graduate section of the Society of Women Engineers and the Materials Science and Engineering outreach programs.

What advice/thoughts do you have for students considering an MSE major?

If you have ever wondered what the things around us are made of, or want to learn more about how to make materials stronger, lighter, or enable new engineering designs, this is the degree for you! Materials are everywhere, which I think makes the subject really interesting and applicable. Also, take advantage of all the opportunities at Michigan to explore your interests. There are so many different student organizations, opportunities to get involved in research and internships, and ways to study abroad, and your degree is the perfect time to try new things and see what you enjoy. This applies to both extracurricular activities and your interests in materials science, and the professors and staff can be a big resource in helping you navigate your degree.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Running, hiking/camping, and baking

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