Engineer Spotlight: Marie Stettler

Engineer Spotlight: Marie Stettler

TERRE HAUTE, IND. – In the small town of Edgerton, Wisc.,– population right around 5,500 – everyone knew Marie Stettler.

Heavily involved in three sports and just about every other club at the city's lone high school, Edgerton Senior, Stettler vowed that when it was time for college, she was going to keep a low profile.

Just tennis and school, she thought.

"When I graduated high school, I was like, 'All right, I'm done,'" the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology senior tennis player recalled with a laugh. "Small town, everybody knows me as that active person – I'm doing a million and eight activities – and here's Rose, I'm just going to be an engineering student."

Fast forward four years later, and Stettler shakes her head at her previous promise.

"I saw that same kind of thing happening," she said, referring to her junior year at Rose. "I think it's just inevitable, that I love being involved. Over the four years, especially, I've really fell in love with the Rose community, so it's really easy to be active in something you're really passionate about as a community as a whole."

Not only has Stettler made herself into one of the Engineers' top threats on the court as the RHIT women's tennis team enters this weekend's Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championships, the mechanical engineering and international studies double major has built an activities resume that would be hard to top:

         * Senior Class President
         * Co-founder of REACT (Rose-Hulman Exploring Alternative Career Tracks)
         * One of 14 engineering students in the country to attend last summer's Washington Internships for  Students of Engineering (WISE) program in Washington, D.C.
         * Former President of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference
         * Oh, and a three-time, all-HCAC first-team tennis player

That's just the tip of the iceberg of Stettler's many areas of involvement. This past summer alone, she went to Stockholm, Sweden, to attend a conference on nature, religion and technology, then completed the hands-on, nine-week WISE internship that delved into the legislative side of engineering in the nation's capital, before heading to Ghana to help design and implement a communal latrine project with RHIT's Engineers Without Borders group.

Using a technical degree like mechanical engineering on a global scale is the main reason behind Stettler's venture into international studies.

"What we as engineers do affects the world," she said. "People with engineering degrees have a lot of power and they're very intelligent people, so it's been an amazing experience to be here at Rose, in contact and exposed to all of these really intelligent people, but to also be exposed to the effects of what these people are doing: to be a voice from the technology and engineering side of things that really understand the technology, but can relate that to the global problems, or possibly the global benefits, of spreading technology."

Fittingly, Stettler wants to share how alternative careers – like what she experienced in all three of her experiences over the summer – can be very real for Rose-Hulman students.

She's teamed up with classmate Will Kolbus to create REACT, a one-day program that will feature panel discussions with RHIT alumni that have done nontraditional applications with their science and engineering degrees. The event is set for Oct. 30 in the Hulman Student Union.

"Sometimes at Rose, we get really focused on what traditional engineering is and what we can do with our majors, so we want to kind of expand those horizons," Stettler said.  "I think that an engineering degree can be invaluable in whatever someone can choose to pursue, but I knew that from the beginning that behind a desk, drafting and designing probably wasn't going to be my thing."

While Stettler has many projects lined up – like October 30th's REACT program and applying for graduate schools that feature her ideal program – science and technology in society – she does have one more goal she'd like to accomplish as a tennis player: a conference tournament championship and a trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament.

It's been the dream since the start of the season, when the team filled out surveys detailing their individual aspirations and goals.

"Consistently, across the board, we really want to make it back to the national tournament, which we did freshman year," Stettler said. "How we do that is win the conference tournament. That's our goal as a team and I really see that being my personal goal, to do whatever I can to achieve that goal."

And as for being busy? That's how Stettler likes it.

"Rose has opened up so many doors, but to really see how these things apply to things I'm involved in is amazing," she said. "While I think it's inherently part of myself to be really busy, I'm really glad it's not filled with things that I don't care about, if that makes sense.

"I try to find things that I'm really passionate about and I hope that's kind of woven into my aspirations for my career and how I apply engineering in the future."

For more information on REACT, check out the official website at