By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications, Penn State Behrend
Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 is ready to make its mark on the world! We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.
Today, we’d like you to meet Rachel Rattay:
Rachel holds a Hololens, a new holographic device from Microsoft. She worked with the new technology during her internship last summer and her capstone project this year. She will continue working with the device when she joins Microsoft as a software engineer after her graduation in May. Learn more about how Rachel’s senior design team put the HoloLens to use for a Fortune 500 company in the 2017 issue of Engineering News.
Major: Software Engineering
Minor: Management Information Systems
Certificate: Video Game Development
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa.
On choosing Penn State Behrend: Coming from a small high school, I felt more at home with the smaller class sizes and I knew that professors would know me by name rather than see me as just another student among hundreds.
On choosing to major in Software Engineering: In high school, I was able to take computer science as an elective course and I really enjoyed it. I originally planned to major in Computer Engineering, but realized right away that I liked the software aspect more than the hardware aspect of computing. I immediately switched my major. It was one of the best decisions I made at Behrend.
Scholarships and awards: I received the Council of Fellows Leadership Scholarship twice, the Edward P. and Barbara F. Junker Leadership Scholarship, the Allyn and Alice Wright Leadership Scholarship, and the Commonwealth Campus First Year Student Award.
Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: My proudest accomplishment has been growing the women in engineering community at Penn State Behrend. Before I was elected president of Behrend’s Society of Women Engineers, we had just a few members. I’m proud to say that we now have more than fifty active members who attend meetings, conferences, and networking events.
Rachel, third from left, with other members of Behrend’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers at the 2017 GE STEM Fair in Junker Center.
Campus involvement: During my four years at Behrend, I was involved in and held leadership positions in many organizations. I was a member and treasurer for both Lambda Sigma and Omicron Delta Kappa and a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. I have been vice president of the Association for Computing Machinery and president of the Society of Women Engineers for the past two years.
On mentoring future female engineers: I’m passionate about inspiring the next generation of women engineers. I enjoy speaking and volunteering at outreach events on campus, and have even organized two outreach events with local Girl Scouts to introduce them to engineering. Getting to watch the girls’ faces light up as soon as they figure out how to solve an engineering problem we give them makes all the planning and organizing worth it.
Advice for current students: The best advice I have is to form good relationships with your professors. They are here to help us learn and understand course information, so make sure to utilize office hours! Meeting with professors one-on-one will not only help you in your studies, but could open the door to research or internship opportunities.
Rachel has accepted a position as a software engineer at Microsoft in Seattle, Wash., where she will be working on the new HoloLens technology.