Five Questions with...Brandi Wingate


Brandi Wingate first discovered the field of engineering through DAPCEP in high school. UM-Dearborn’s small classes and academic excellence convinced her it was the right place to pursue her dream. Receiving a Kurajian scholarship helped make it possible.

How did you become interested in engineering?

I first became interested in engineering in high school when I joined a program called DAPCEP, which stands for Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program. This program provided Saturday and summer sessions at various Michigan universities, taught by professionals, where students were introduced to STEM and the careers that if offers. Prior to this program, I was unaware of engineering and everything it offered. I enjoyed the activities we did in DAPCEP, and I enjoyed math and science and the problem-solving aspect of engineering.

Some of the activities we did included bottle rockets, solar powered oven/cars, fuel cell cars, learning basic chemistry and physics concepts, and profession development. After engaging in the program for about four years in high school, I decided that I wanted a career path in engineering.

Why did you choose to attend UM-Dearborn?

I first came to UM-Dearborn in 10th grade for a DAPCEP Saturday session where we were taught basic electrical circuit concepts by current UM-Dearborn students. I remember enjoying the session and being intrigued by the fact that we were being taught by other knowledgeable college students (this was different from the usual professional instructor), which showed me the quality of the education and the dedication of the students at UM-Dearborn. Also, in DAPCEP we visited colleges that were known for having the best engineering programs, so I knew UM-Dearborn would definitely be a school I would consider attending. When applying for schools, UM-Dearborn was on my list because I was familiar with it. When I came to visit, I liked the small campus and classrooms and decided it would be the school where I could grow academically.

What are your educational/academic goals? What are your future career plans?

My educational goal is to work towards receiving a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering and engineering mathematics from UM-Dearborn while maintaining at least a 3.5 GPA. I plan to complete my degree by May 2019. I want to spend my time at UM-Dearborn not just taking classes, but strengthening my critical thinking and professional skills that will help me in my career and in everyday problems that I encounter in life. My future plans are to pursue a graduate degree. I am not exactly sure what I would pursue, I am still discovering my interests. My main goal is to be a good role model and impact the younger generation in some capacity, the way DAPCEP influenced me.

What faculty member(s) most encouraged you in your studies? Is there one class, research activity, event or extracurricular activity that made a lasting impact?

There have been many faculty members who have encouraged me in my studies. But the two that have had the biggest impact are Professor Joan Remski, my calculus teacher and Professor DeLean Tolbert, the academic advisor of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) UM-Dearborn chapter, which I am involved in. Professor Remski is a great teacher and encourages her students to work hard and feel confident in their abilities to problem solve. She is also the professor who initially encouraged me to pursue a dual degree in mathematics. At first, I was nervous about the decision, but so far, I feel good about my choice because I believe a dual degree in math has helped me excel in my engineering courses. Professor DeLean Tolbert has also encouraged me because as a black female engineer who is excelling in her career, I see her as role model for myself and someone I aspire to be like in character and work ethic. She is always willing to give advice and seems genuinely concerned with students and NSBE.

In the summer of 2015 and 2016, I participated in a Mathematics research program at UM-Dearborn, mentored by Professors Hyejin Kim and Yunus Zeytuncu who are both mathematics professors at UM-Dearborn. This program impacted me because interacting with other students and professors, and presenting/discussing my research discoveries increased my academic and social confidence. Being a shy and reserved person, this program was really crucial for my growth as a student.

What did it mean to you to receive the Prof. George Masrob Kurajian Scholarship? How will this scholarship help you in your academic and career goals?

I was very excited to receive the Kurajian Scholarship! Receiving the scholarship helped me see that others have recognized my hard work thus far in my academic career, and they also believe in my potential and want to invest in my education and future endeavors. This scholarship has made me want to study harder and hold myself to a higher standard in order to achieve the goals stated above and return the investment. The scholarship will assist me in paying for classes and books, but also help me stay motivated.

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