BIG POTENTIAL: The goals and dreams of our engineering students are as intriguing and inspiring as they are. No matter their backgrounds and majors, our students are here with a purpose: to make a BIG impact in people's lives.
Jordan Burchatz | Mitch Klein | Sydney Schaaf
Major/Minor: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Derby, Kan.
Class Year/Graduation: Senior
BIG PASSIONS: Even as a little girl, Sydney Schaaf was enthralled with building things, but she also loved playing music, especially the flute. So when it came time to choose a major, Schaaf took the less-traveled path: she’s majoring in both Mechanical Engineering and Music Performance.
“Music is my passion; it’s more than a hobby,” Schaaf said. “It’s also a great outlet from technical thinking.”
With 19-20 credits per semester, Schaaf understands the dedication needed to succeed in both fields. As a child, she was influenced by her parents who worked in the aerospace industry. The requisite love of math and science, along with her flute, brought her from Derby, Kan., to UNL, where she’s a fourth-year senior. She has a year to go before graduation, but notes she’s not in any hurry.
BIG OPPORTUNITIES: Schaaf has taken prime advantage of her love for building and has already participated in two internships: at Spirit AeroSystems at its Wichita, Kan., location and another at Ford Motor Company in Detroit.
“I always thought I’d go into aerospace engineering, but I loved being at Ford,” she said. “Now I really want to work with cars. Design engineering would be awesome.”
At Ford, Schaaf worked on virtual seat designs for the 2013 Escape to determine comfort-related models for consumers. She plans on another internship this summer at Ford, this time focusing on exterior body design, and would consider a full-time position there after graduation.
BIG ASPIRATIONS: Back at UNL, Schaaf has been instrumental in organizing the college’s aeronatics club, which now boasts about 30-40 students per meeting. They participate in several national design competitions, including CANSAT and Design-Build-Fly. Schaaf is also active in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and has served as a college delegate to help to recruit new students to Nebraska Engineering.
And about her music? She still practices her flute each day, and while in Detroit, Schaaf plans to audition for a city orchestra and perhaps teach flute lessons to younger students.