Scholarships can mean much more than financial support, says Kyle Riegel, recipient of the 2008 SME Education Foundation Family Scholarship. “When you arrive at college as freshman, you realize that things are a bit more difficult than they were in high school. Knowing that the people at the SME Education Foundation believed in me, believed I was ready for the challenge, was an important confidence boost.”
Kyle is a field sales engineer with Schunk Carbon Technology in Iowa. Schunk is a billion-Euro company headquartered in Germany with locations and businesses around the world. Kyle specializes in the wind power generation industry: working with the industry with products and services for the 100-megawatt wind turbines seen across the country ― and the world.
“I specialize in sliding electrical contacts,” Kyle says. “It’s a great fit for me with my electromechanical engineering degree.”
A 2008 graduate of Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, Kyle found the smaller-sized school much to his liking. “My intention was to study at Loras for two years, then transfer to Iowa State. But I ended up loving the school. I appreciated the hands-on experiences and the personal attention from professors: It takes learning to a whole other level.” Kyle has, since leaving Loras, also completed his MBA studies at Saint Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.
Loras College made such an impact that Kyle currently serves on their engineering board. “I still keep in touch with professors and what's going on with the program. And that's what I really love about it - It’s got a great family feel.”
A third-generation SME member since 2008, Kyle has become extensively involved with the organization. “I’m now serving at the national level on SME’s Member Council, and I’m active in the Emerging Professionals Task Group and Chapter Enhancement Committee. Locally, I’m part of the leadership team for SME’s Waterloo, Iowa, chapter and have taken on a new role as a chapter ambassador.”
Part of Kyle’s drive to be engaged stems from the benefits: “My approach is to be wide-ranging. Learning can be beyond books ― there’s no substitution for going out and actually being involved.”
Also related to involvement, however, is Kyle’s viewpoint on the scholarship he received. “I’ve always been grateful for the scholarship. It's never been something I'd look past. If there’s a way I can help volunteer for something, I'm willing to do it: It’s my ‘pay it forward’ mentality.”