ASU engineering outstanding graduate Kristen Brown

Saving the world with engineering

By

Joe Kullman

Editor's note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2016 commencement. See the rest here .

Kristen Brown is among Arizona State University’s 2016 spring graduates to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering for her contributions to the university community.

Brown helped to lead a growing and very active student organization — the ASU chapter of the Society of Women Engineers — and served for three years as a community assistant in freshman engineering dormitories, and a year as a peer mentor for freshman in ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College.

Brown, who went to Mountain Pointe High School in the Ahwatukee area of Phoenix, will receive her bachelor's in chemical engineering. Her academic performance and community service helped her earn the Best Community Assistant/Peer Mentor Partnership Award for the 2013-2014 academic year, the High Honors Endorsement Scholarship from the Arizona Board of Regents, a scholarship from the W.L. Gore company, and the Greater Phoenix Area Engineers Week Engineering Student of the Year Award for 2014-2015.

During her term as president of the Society of Women Engineers at ASU, the group won the Most Active Fulton Student Organization award and was recognized at the 2015 Society of Women Engineers national conference as one of the outstanding collegiate chapters in the country.

“One of the most rewarding things about my undergraduate years at ASU, outside of the friends and the connections I’ve made with fellow students and professors, would be my involvement in the Society of Women Engineers,” Brown said. “We put in a lot of effort as a team to really build, grow and improve the ASU chapter, and I believe the members and the organization really benefited from it.”

Question: Why did you choose to come to ASU?

Answer: I participated in SEE@ASU (the Summer Engineering Experience) in the summer between my junior and senior years in high school. I fell in love with ASU’s campus and knew then that I wanted to study engineering here.

Q: Tell me how engineering (or your engineering) will change the world.

A: I believe engineering will be instrumental in developing feasible and cost-effective methods to reduce our carbon footprint by improving things like alternative fuels and longer-lasting batteries for vehicles, and by developing more sustainable manufacturing techniques for anything from consumer products to commodity chemicals.

Q: Was there a particular “aha!” moment when you knew that you were on the right path?

A: At the beginning of my freshman year, when I was starting to think about what I could do with chemical engineering, I realized just how instrumental engineering was in so many aspects of our lives. At the start of that year, I learned about the various ways in which new technology is used to help developing countries and how creative energy-efficient designs are working to help mitigate the impact of climate change. Even now, more than three years later, I am still amazed at the advancements engineers are making.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan on attending graduate school to earn a master’s degree in engineering management.

Q: How do you see your future? What is your dream for your life?

A: My long-term career aspirations involve helping people, solving problems, and working and collaborating with others. I hope to be working on a team or with a company fully devoted to developing innovative solutions designed to better our lives. I feel this can be achieved in a number of ways, and I am open to any and all career options that provide me the opportunity to do this.