Patricia McHale is a 22-year-old senior from Holland Patent, N.Y. who is majoring in mechanical engineering. She is a diver on the swimming and diving team, vice president of the Mini Baja Team, president of the Golden Key International Honor Society, co-tutoring chair for Tau Beta Pi – the National Engineering Honor Society – a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and teaching assistant for Introduction to Solid Mechanics.

Sometimes McHale also participates as a member of the gymnastics club, the Society of Women Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Next fall McHale is pursuing her masters at Stanford University.

How did you first get into Mechanical Engineering?

“Long story very much shorter, I went to a materials science camp one summer, conducted a failure analysis on a parachute link, loved it and never looked back.”

What accomplishment are you the most proud of?

“Right now I’d say it’s definitely a tie between breaking the school’s diving records and qualifying for nationals and receiving a NSF Fellowship. My response was just about equal for both.”

What would your dream job be?

“Hmmm – it’s kind of hard to explain, but if it was really a dream job, because this is definitely dreaming, I would hold some kind of position or office where a group of scientists and I could directly influence both government and corporate policy to fix the energy problem faster. Then research and solutions could be applied immediately, based solely on their worth and common sense rather than on political interests, economic favor or general stupidity.

“Therefore, when we finish in a few decades rather than after my lifetime, I can retire and still have time to become one of those travel channel people who gets paid to go everywhere and tryout everything – hopefully by then that would include some kind of trip into space, I’ve kind of always wanted to try that out.”

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your, life what would it be?

“Only one food for the rest of my life? I don’t think I’d survive! But seriously, that’s kind of a loaded question. If I choose something like ice cream or Taco Bell, I’d probably die young and chunky, but it’d taste good on the way out. Whereas, if I choose something like summer squash or bread with peanut butter, I’d probably live longer, but who could really live without chocolate and Mexican food.”

Woo can be reached at

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