WE@BYU mentorship opens up new opportunities

Hannah Lutz started studying industrial design as a way to combine her love for art and the ability to invent things. After being accepted into the major, she applied for a Women in Engineering and Technology mentorship, which has opened up new opportunities for her and has helped her become more involved in the School of Technology.

Lutz first considered industrial design as a major while she was working at Outdoors Unlimited fixing bikes. She was working towards applying to the art program at the time, until a group of students from the industrial design program came into the shop. Lutz was both sketching and working on bikes, so the students started talking to her about industrial design, and how it combines art and technology. They suggested she apply to the program.

“It [industrial design] just immediately grabbed my interest and I remembered that when I was a kid I wanted to be an inventor,” Lutz said. “I just kind of dropped everything and went for it.”

Lutz took the pre-requisite classes for the program during fall semester of 2015 and made it into the program.

“It’s the best major for me,” she said. “I’ve never had so much fun and been so challenged in school before, as far as pushing myself to like really achieve something.”

After finding out she was accepted into the program, Lutz took a class with industrial design professor David Morgan. Morgan informed her about the WE@BYU Research mentorship program, where first- and second-year female engineering and technology students can work on research projects under the guidance of a mentor. Lutz thought the mentorship sounded really interesting.

She applied for the mentorship and was accepted. Morgan, who works in the Compliant Mechanisms Research (CMR) lab, ended up becoming her mentor. Lutz has been working in the CMR lab since last fall semester, and has mainly focused on creating lamp shades. This project is mostly research based, so Lutz researches different existing lamp shade patterns and creates them with different materials to find the best results. Lutz explained how much she has liked working with Morgan, and how he has helped guide her in the right direction for her projects.

“It was really awesome, I got to kind of have free reign within like a certain area,” she said. “He [Morgan] gave me the topic, the constraints I needed to go for and then just encouraged me in whichever directions I chose to let that research fuel the creation of a project.”

Working in the CMR lab has led Lutz to some incredible opportunities. In January, she was able travel with Morgan’s folding and compliant mechanisms research group to an international interior design show in Toronto and sell the lamp shades she created. Lutz said that it was an incredible opportunity. She loved being able to see her product be created and sold from start to finish.

“It was a very valuable work experience,” she said.

Lutz also explained that her mentorship has helped her with her other schoolwork. She said that it placed good pressure on her not to procrastinate and really push herself. Lutz also credited her doing well in school to constantly thinking about things that are design-related.

“Whether it was homework or something for my mentorship, I was always generating ideas,” Lutz said. “Sometimes when class assignments would arrive, I almost had an arsenal [of ideas] to choose from because I had been thinking about folding all the time.”

Recently, Lutz has started working on two other research projects in the Compliant Mechanisms Research Lab. She is working on a spinal implant team, as well as sketching designs and graphics for research papers. She explained that her mentorship opened up the door for those other opportunities. In the CMR lab, she was introduced to other professors and gained some exposure and networking experience. This has also helped her to become more involved with the School of Technology.

Overall, Lutz has loved her mentorship experience. It has driven her passion for industrial design, and made her realize how much she loves it. Lutz said that it also taught her the value of receiving feedback on projects, and listening to others’ ideas. She also noted that it helped her gain real experience that would have otherwise been difficult to do on her own.

“A lot of other students have to come up with that experience on their own through their own personal projects and I had the opportunity to have that experience but under the mentorship of someone else,” Lutz said. “I think it has been really critical to my growth and confidence as a designer.”

Lutz said that she recommends the WE@BYU mentorship to any woman pursing a degree in engineering or technology.

“I think one of the main things it [the mentorship] does is it helps you build your confidence and your value as a worker, and gives you those skills and challenges needed to push yourself to succeed and stand out,” Lutz said. 

Lutz continues to work in Morgan’s lab and will be starting her junior year in the fall. 

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