I want to stand before inner-city students as proof that they do not have to be products of their environment. It is possible to rise above.
— Kari Brown
Kari Brown believes that access to education should be universal. As a female minority engineering student, she is passionate about outreach to underprivileged and historically-underrepresented groups in technical fields. "I want to stand before inner-city students as proof that they do not have to be products of their environment," she says. "It is possible to rise above."
A first-generation college student, Brown is pursuing her PhD in Mechanical Engineering, researching sustainable methods of material recovery from vehicles to reduce material consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. She is the recipient of the King-Chavez-Parks Future Faculty Fellowship and has worked throughout her undergraduate and graduate career to promote engineering education to high school students nationwide. Brown is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, serving since 2001 on regional and national boards and participating in the organization’s online mentoring programs. "Our goal is simple but challenging: to increase the number of minority students in the engineering discipline," she says.
Brown earned her BS in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Tech in 2006 and cites her international senior design project in Copenhagen as a major influence in her decision to return for a PhD. "I was fascinated by the way the learning process changes in an international situation with a multi-national team. I’d like to use that experience to teach students how to learn in a global context." In addition to her course work and research, Brown is involved in the Sustainable Futures Institute and the university’s Concert Choir.
Michigan Tech, she says, has provided an ideal academic environment. "The Mechanical Engineering faculty have been incredibly supportive of my goals, providing invaluable guidance every step of the way. Professors know students by name, and the community is welcoming and diverse. I can’t imagine a better place or a better education."