Engineering creative spirit: Emma Seidel builds eclectic foundation, lands job

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When she’s not researching combustion, mechatronics and other engineering concerns, mechanical engineering major Emma Seidel enjoys listening to her favorite Korean pop bands. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Emma Seidel would be the first to admit that it’s unusual for a mechanical engineering major to show committed interest in the arts, but that has never stopped her from pursuing her passions at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Since coming to UMSL in 2011, the Pierre Laclede Honors College student has served as a principle flautist for the wind ensemble, performed with the Triton Sound pep band, acted as co-president of UMSL’s Korean pop dance team, and assisted international students as a Mosaic ambassador, all while completing her major, a math minor, and a certificate in creative writing.

“I also talked an international student into teaching me Korean,” she said with a smile.

Seidel has blossomed in her time in UMSL, yet when she graduated from a homeschooling program and came to the campus at the age of 16, she admits she was somewhat overwhelmed.

“I’m involved with a lot of extracurriculars now, but I would’ve described myself as a mysterious loner my first semester here,” she said. “I was afraid people would make a big deal abut my age, so I didn’t talk to many people at first.”

Seidel’s concerns quickly subsided as she found a warm, welcoming community of students, staff and faculty happy to support her studies and eclectic range of interests. She also found that the rigorous and holistic nature of education at home prepared her for success in the seminar-based honors courses.

“I was exposed to a little bit of everything, and I don’t like giving stuff up, so I do it all,” she said. “And coming from a background where you rely on internal motivation to learn made the transition to the honors college a lot easier.”

Seidel’s efforts to develop herself into a well-rounded scholar have paid off. Over her course of study at UMSL, she has been the recipient of numerous scholarships, including the UMSL music scholarship, the Curators’ scholarship, the Honors College scholarship, the Nidec Motor Corporation scholarship, the Branahl family engineering scholarship and the Missouri Bright Flight scholarship.

Once she graduates this December, she will be ready to take the next step and move into a full-time position at Nidec Motor Corporation as a large project administrator. The company will also pay for her to attend graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis, where she will work toward a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Nidec Motor Corporation manufactures commercial, industrial and appliance motors. Some of their claims to fame include building snowmakers for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and motors for Amazon’s latest series of robotics. Seidel will oversee all projects up to a quarter of a million dollars, and as an intern, she is currently working with colleagues on a $2.3 million dollar tunnel project in Baltimore. Though Seidel has her work cut out for her in the future, attaining an internship at Nidec was a great relief.

“I was stoked when I landed the internship,” she said. “I also like that the position combines marketing and engineering, and I can get to know clients even better while suggesting new designs.”

As she prepares for new challenges in the future, Seidel continues to set her sights on bigger and bigger goals.

“I’m not sure what’s next,” she said. “Maybe I can get on the accelerated path to world domination.”

The UMSL Experience

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