December 5, 2015
Growing up with a family full of passionate fans, Mary Wilson knew from a small age that she would one day become a Mississippi State Bulldog. The native of northeastern Mississippi would get the opportunity to pursue that love, while also recognizing a newfound passion for mechanical engineering.
Wilson’s older brother, an MSU engineering alum, encouraged her to pursue the male-dominated field, encouraging her to “do something challenging” and “not to go through life taking the easiest path.” The possibility of being in a field where she was a minority didn’t intimidate Wilson. She had grown up with four older brothers and was taught by her parents from an early age that she was just as equally capable of completing any tasks set before her.
Once she arrived at MSU, Wilson took advantage of multiple opportunities that were offered to her, in addition to routinely joining her “True Maroon” family before football games for tailgating in the Junction. She spent three semesters working with Eaton in Jackson, Mississippi, as part of MSU’s Cooperative Education Program. Enrolling in the co-op program allows students across campus to make corporate connections and gain real-world work experience in related fields.
“I loved my time at Eaton,” Wilson said. “Each semester I was able to experience a different engineering department. They really work hard at ensuring that students are treated like a full-time employee.”
She then spent time working for Rogelio Luck, her adviser and mechanical engineering professor, which led to Wilson’s decision to pursue graduate school after receiving her bachelor’s degree in 2014.
“Dr. Luck was the first person who encouraged me to consider pursuing a doctoral degree, and his guidance was one of the main contributing factors to why I chose to stay at MSU for graduate school,” Wilson said.
Wilson has continued to work under Luck, as well as mechanical engineering department head Pedro Mago, on researching increased thermal capacitance with phase change materials and thermal storage management for buildings. These methods are used to reduce a building’s electricity consumption by minimizing the required operating time of the air conditioner or heater.
“This is an exciting topic for me,” Wilson said. “The world is moving towards more environmentally friendly options for heating and cooling, and this research will assist in improving that area.”
In addition to research, Wilson is passionate about recruiting and supporting her fellow females in mechanical engineering. She is currently serving as the president of the newly-formed Mechanical Engineering Ladies Organization (MELO). Last year, mechanical engineering professor Alta Knizley approached Wilson with a plan to create an organization for MSU’s mechanical engineering women with a focus on camaraderie, mentorship and outreach. Because mechanical engineering is traditionally a male-dominated field, MELO provides a place for female students to meet likeminded women and for more experienced students to help underclassmen with tutoring, stress management techniques and better studying skills. With MELO’s K-12 outreach missions, Wilson also has an opportunity to make a mark on a younger audience, encouraging young women to pursue a career in mechanical engineering, just like she did.
“I am so thankful for the encouragement I received when I was young to pursue a STEM field, and I hope to be able to pass that on to the next generation,” Wilson said.
By: Amanda Meeler