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Grace Hsia

Co-Founder & CEO, Warmilu LLC



B.S.E. (Materials Science & Engineering), 2012
Master of Entrepreneurship (MsE), Joint Degree Program  with U-M Ross School of Business and College of Engineering, 2013

Honors and Awards

Forbes 30 Under 30 2016: Manufacturing & Industry,
The Manufacturing Institute STEP Ahead Award, 2016
"Rising Startup" for Detroit Techweek100, 2017,
2018 Crain’s Notable Women in Manufacturing,
Cincy Inno 2018 50 on Fire Winner (Health Sciences), and
2018 Crain’s Detroit Twenty in their 20s.

How did your MSE degree prepare you for your career?

MSE is a diverse, interdisciplinary field which required myself and other MSE students to practice broad, open-ended problem solving in addition to understanding the broad expanse of chemical, physical, optical, mechanical, electrical, magnetic, macro and micro properties of materials and systems of materials and their environment and use case in order to identify some of the strengths and weaknesses of using a particular material for an application. MSE requires that you also have a breadth of in-depth knowledge of mechanical and thermodynamics engineering and even chemical engineering in order to best understand families of materials (metals, polymers, mixed alloy, ceramics, biomaterials, organics). MSE at U-M is unique also in the kinds of high-end, high quality, state of the art equipment that is available to students and alumni to use to analyze materials. This kind of knowledge prepares you to be a subject matter expert with in-depth technical and direct hands-on analysis skills. MSE as such a broad field also naturally lends itself a significant of collaboration across areas of expertise within MSE and with industry, academia, and government partners. This helped me identify how to best communicate the properties of materials and why a certain material was ideal for a particular application to collaborators who might not be as familiar the materials that I was working with. As a result, I find that my MSE colleagues tend to be strong leaders on teams and strong collaborators. MSE also taught me to be a deep thinker in how/what methods we use to analyze materials; MSE 465 taught me the inner workings of the key pieces of equipment we use to study materials. This taught me how to practice proper methods development and how to put together methods and benchmark testing plans and systems and tools. We also learned basics in how to manufacture and prototype with various materials; that always gave me enough of a foundation to begin conversations with confidence to suppliers of equipment and contract manufacturers. As an entrepreneur, this all helped me pick up information very quickly and create methods to test hypotheses for a business model or a potential prototype in a short period of time. I also naturally found myself gravitating towards project management because you really have to have strong project plans and timelines for key equipment procurement/usage when you are developing a new material and trying to test it for key properties.

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

ENGR 100 Design in the Real World with Hildinger, Alfano, and Daida, MSE 242, MSE 465, MSE 480, ChE 597/Pharm 597, ENGR 411, and MSE 360&365. I loved being a part of the University of Michigan Engineering Student Government (at the time called University of Michigan Engineering Council), MRun, Blueprint Literary Magazine, Women in Science and Engineering Residence Program, Society of Women Engineers, and K-Grams. From freshman to junior year, I was the Editor-In-Chief for the U-M College of Engineering Newsletter for the Student Government. I also was a teaching assistant for ENGR 100. Later I began mentoring and getting involved in key strategic initiatives through the University of Michigan Engineering Alumni Board, University of Michigan Engineering Magazine Advisory Board, M-Powered, MHacks, BlueLab, optiMize, and M-Heal after I graduated from U-M.

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

Are you a problem solver? Do you want to make real world impact? Do you want to serve the common good? MSE is one of the most tangible majors to make that kind of impact and to be able to find yourself problem solving and positively impacting the world in academia, research, government, and industry with the opportunity to grow (quickly) into key leadership and expert roles. 

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love mentoring students in STEM, future U-M students, business development, prototyping, and entrepreneurship. I am a mentor through the University of Michigan HAIL program and #BUILTBYGIRLS :: Wave. I guest lecture at universities and at medical device, business development, and entrepreneurial events. I love my team and spearheading critical initiatives for the University of Michigan Engineering Alumni Board Department Promotions Subcommittee. I run prototyping workshops and give guest academic lectures on leadership. For fun, I run (5K, 10K, half marathons), read, sing in a choir, explore science and art museums, eat sushi, paint, listen to productivity/economic/science podcasts, evaluate new productivity tools, cook and bake brand new things for breakfast and dinner, work on wood projects like a pallet coffee table, and watch Broadway in Detroit shows.

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