Area of Focus: Electrical Engineering with a minor in Product Design
Graduation Year: 2017
“There is so much you can learn from everyone around you. Don’t be intimidated by not knowing what’s going on, instead take that opportunity to learn and grow.”
How to be a well-rounded engineer?
You could say that Bri Schlangen is busy, but that would be underselling her activity level. As the 2015-2016 president of Tesla Works and one of four University Innovation Fellows, this Electrical Engineering major would never let something like time slow her down. Her involvement is serving her well and setting the stage so she can accomplish her five year goal:
To work directly with users to create devices that work towards solving the engineering grand challenges…making a positive impact on those around me.
Becoming an electrical engineer
Bri didn’t come to the University of Minnesota intending to major in Electrical Engineering. In fact, she was originally interested in mechanics and mechanical engineering. After working on a few projects that dealt with the control systems that make modern mechanical systems work, she became hooked on electrical and computer engineering and its multiple courses and projects on control systems.
Bri added a product design minor in her sophomore year and found that her interest and enjoyment of engineering increased exponentially. She’s learned how to design systems with intent in mind, integrate the users experience, and learn how to make devices that are enjoyable to use. The product design minor has only added to her arsenal of tools she uses to generate innovative ideas and then implement them in a flexible and efficient manner. Additionally, she has enhanced her ability to communicate technical ideas to those with a non-technical background and really learned to use the strengths of all the diverse talent on campus. Plus, she gets to make cool and important stuff!
Beyond the classroom
Bri has been a member of Tesla Works since her freshman year. What is Tesla Works you may ask?
Tesla Works is a project-based community of makers that brings together passionate and goal-oriented students from around the university to turn ideas into reality. They provide funding, lab space, online tools, and a community for collaboration in order to foster the unbridled creativity necessary to solve 21st century problems.
For Bri, its a true creative outlet that has taught her a ton of hands-on skills and apply the material she learns in her classes.
Tesla Works was the most accepting environment I’ve ever been a part of. They didn’t expect me to have any experience which allowed me to learn by doing, and gave me an anything is possible attitude. This attitude carried over into my class life, and made what I was learning that much more valuable.
Bri was also chosen as a University Innovation Fellow and received a special scholarship from ECE to cover travel expenses to go to a entrepreneurship conference in Silicon Valley. The program offers training that helps Fellows initiate change on their home campuses. She met many students like herself from all over the country and is working with five other Fellows to implement an innovation space on campus that acts as a hub connecting students to other students and organizations so they can use their common passions to accomplish their goals and make an impact.
Bri has a little advice for future and current engineering students:
The best person to be is the dumbest person in the room. There is so much you can learn from everyone around you. Don’t be intimidated by not knowing what’s going on, instead take that opportunity to learn and grow. Ask all the questions. People are generally more than happy to share their knowledge with you.
And she is willing to provide more info if interested:
I would love to talk to you about what you’re passionate about! Please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to talk more about the organizations, workshops, classes, etc. that are out there to help you pursue your passions. Class is a lot better when you apply that knowledge to something fun!