When Meredith Biechele graduated from NC State in 2018, she didn’t know she would go on to win one of the most prestigious awards for engineers around the world.
The Society of Women Engineers’ Rising Technical Contributor Award honors 10 engineers with fewer than five years of experience in the field. Biechele, who majored in mechanical engineering at NC State, was recognized for her work at John Deere, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“The company nominated me for all my contributions in electrification and I was so excited when I found out I won,” she said. “This is the highest honor I could receive at this point in my career.”
Biechele received the award in person during a ceremony held in Los Angeles the final week of October. She is especially excited to win an award acknowledging the contributions of women in engineering, as engineering remains a predominantly male field.
At John Deere, Biechele is the only full-time engineer doing electrification work in her lab, but she hopes to build a diverse and inclusive workspace for future generations. She is on the recruiting team and also comes to NC State during the Engineering Career Fair to talk to students. She is currently part of the College of Engineerin’s Young Alumni Advisory Board and is on the College Relations Committee.
“I’m really proud of being able to shift that paradigm that only men are engineers at this lab,” she said. “I’m really trying to foster and nurture the next generation of younger engineers, specifically female engineers.
“I was fairly self taught. I didn’t have a huge background in electrification so I really had to build up that knowledge when I was inventing electric vehicle prototypes in the lab. Creating that culture of learning and sharing that knowledge and documenting that for future generations is super, super important to me.”
Biechele plans to keep breaking boundaries in this capacity, but she’s also very happy at her current company doing the work she loves.
“I’m working hard and trying to perform as best as I can, but also taking breaks as well, preventing burnout,” she said. “I think a lot of my ambition was motivated by imposter syndrome. Good, bad or otherwise, I think we all face it. And that can either stall you out or drive you forward.
“In my case, I really wanted to prove myself and show that yes, a young woman in engineering can succeed, but I don’t have to be constantly firing at all cylinders to do so.”
Biechele comes back to NC State frequently as an alum to volunteer for Women and Minority Engineering Programs events and to act, write and direct with University Theater’s QuickScripts.
“My engineering story started at NC State,” she said. “It was the place where I learned to think critically and make that vision a reality. I will always be grateful for the people I met here who taught me to believe in myself. I believe that whoever you are or wherever you go, NC State will always be there to welcome you home.”
This post was originally published in College of Engineering News.