May 8, 2019

Senior Meredith Burke ’19 is a third-generation Mustang who thrives on taking on challenges like juggling a hectic academic and extracurricular schedule. She is triple-majoring to earn bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering (ME), art and math and working toward her master’s degree in ME. “Fusing these majors cultivates my creativity and ingenuity from a fresh interdisciplinary perspective,” Burke explains. “The way I see it, engineering and art have a yin-yang relationship. There’s a crossover between a ceramics in technology class and an engineering materials class because they both involve hands-on learning with similar materials.”

Burke has frequently been recognized as an up and coming engineer during her time as an undergraduate. In 2018, she was named the ASME North Texas Section Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Student of the Year and received an honorable mention for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, based on her summer brain tumor research at UT Southwestern. In 2017, Burke was one of only 11 students to be selected for DiscoverE’s sixth annual New Faces of Engineering College Edition. Students selected for this honor exemplify the vision, innovation and leadership skills necessary for a successful engineering career.

Burke sharpens her soft skills through the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership by attending a variety of seminars, workshops, mock interviews and career fairs. “For me, the Hart Center solidifies SMU’s slogan, ‘World Changers Shaped Here.’ With the Hart Center’s support, students learn essential leadership skills, foster those skills, and then apply them outside of the university,” she shares.

An aspect Burke particularly values about the center is the Hart Leadership Assessment, which gauges a student’s strengths and identifies areas for improvement. “I found ways to apply this knowledge, not only in my engineering and other academic classes but also in a broader sense—it has changed the way I work and connect with people,” Burke says.

Burke is actively involved in many clubs and activities across campus. Her long list of accomplishments includes being a Hunt Scholar, an honors mentor in Armstrong Residential Commons, an ambassador for both Lyle and Meadows School of the Arts, the treasurer for SMU’s Ballroom Dance Team, and the incoming president of Mustang Rocketry Club. As a member of the “Hub of SMU Spirit,” Burke plays the piccolo and is a section leader in the Mustang Band.

“What sets SMU apart from other schools is the ability to pursue multiple majors and experience a strong academic program while exploring various interests. I’ve found SMU is the perfect sized school where undergraduate students feel supported and encouraged to have a multidimensional college education,“ she states.

Burke used her Engaged Learning Fellowship, in which select undergraduate students receive funding to engage in capstone-level scholarly research, to design and build a toaster that can launch a piece of toast greater than 20 feet. She is currently building a circuit to heat the bread. This summer, Burke interned at Raytheon and hopes to use her knowledge of materials and heat to work in the defense industry. Meanwhile, she expects to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest popping toaster and use that experience encouraging young women to consider an engineering career.

“If I am successful in breaking the world record, I would like to visit local schools and Girl Scout troops to show them the fun, inventive power of engineering.”

This story was originally published in the fall 2018 issue of LyleNow, a publication of the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering at SMU.