“I’m the first student pilot and the first engineer in my family.”
That quote from Christie Hasbrouck, pursuing her doctorate in industrial and manufacturing engineering at The Pennsylvania State University, offers a clue to her accomplishments and her passions.
Growing up in Terre Haute, Indiana, Christie was introduced to technical interests and an engineering future by accompanying her father to community events by local youth outreach programs from Indiana State University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Already working with her technically gifted father on his own industrial manufacturing projects, she was interested and curious.
That interest grew into something much larger when she attended her first air show that featured aerobatic flying. “That really got me interested in flying; in aerospace and engineering.”
A recipient of the SME Education Foundation’s E. Wayne Kay Graduate/PhD Scholarship, Christie says that skills acquired through working with her father and through Project Lead the Way courses in high school created and refined her technical aptitude — while she was still tackling impressive academic demands. “I had experience with elements of computer-aided manufacturing; programming CNC milling and drilling equipment along with very practical experiences in many areas including welding, wiring, woodworking — even auto shop work with my dad.”
The practical experiences are important to her: “When qualifying a weld, for example, it’s easier and better to be able to explain how it should be done. I want to be able to do that.”
A mechanical engineering degree (with a minor in metallurgical engineering) from Trine University was followed by a graduate degree in mechanical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. “Early in my undergraduate work, I took a material science course and decided that was an area of interest to me. Sometimes there’s that one professor who changes your whole path!”
Christie has since completed an additional master’s degree at Penn State on her path to a doctorate. “My work is really aligned with materials, especially metalcasting. The goal is optimizing the processes and acquire clean castings from the start to get the very best properties possible.”
She points out that, while metalcasting is among the oldest forms of manufacturing, there are new opportunities to explore a potential symbiotic relationship with more advanced manufacturing techniques. “We’re using additive manufacturing techniques to create better molds. Both 3D printing and casting have their attributes and I’m working with both.”
And flying? “It’s my goal to build an airplane. That’s going to require welding knowledge, technical ability, and manufacturing knowledge. Flying — and my career — require both hands-on and engineering expertise.”