Michele Miller
Dr. Michele Miller
Professor, Michigan Technological University

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  • Describe what you do in your current work situation.
    I am a mechanical engineering professor. I work with graduate students on research projects involving the development of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). We do a lot of laboratory experiments and computer analysis. I also teach classes on manufacturing topics.
  • Why did you choose engineering?
    I liked doing hands-on things when I was young. In high school, my favorite classes were physics and math. Based on these interests, my dad (who is an engineer) suggested that I might like engineering.
  • Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
    I received a BS from Duke University and MS and Ph.D. degrees from North Carolina State University.
  • What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
    When I worked in the auto industry, much of my work involved communicating with people from other companies, from factories, or other engineers within my company. Working at a university as a graduate student and now as a professor has allowed me to do more hands-on work and spend less time doing paperwork or making phone calls. My job as a professor has a lot of variety. In addition to the laboratory activities, I spend a lot of time reading about the latest technology developments, writing about my research, giving presentations about my research, preparing material for classes, teaching classes, and meeting with students.
  • What do you like best about being an engineer?
    I like the math. I enjoy using computers and equations to explain things.
  • Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
    I'm proudest of having made a positive impact on many students' lives.
  • What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
    Engineering requires a lot of persistence. Large projects last several years, so it sometimes takes awhile for your work to bear fruit. I've become better at focusing on the small pieces that will eventually add up to the big result. Another challenge has been to become a better communicator. Engineering may seem like a good career for introverts, but I've learned that more work gets accomplished when I communicate and collaborate regularly with others.
  • Please tell us a little about your family.
    My dad is a retired metallurgical engineer. After retiring from General Motors, he taught a class at a local university for several years. My mom was a fifth grade teacher before becoming a full-time mom. She has many cultural interests and regularly gives tours at the local art museum. I have one sister one year younger than me who works in the financial services industry. I have a dog named Scooter.
  • What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
    My short-term goal is to gain expertise in microsystems--a new research area for me. The technology of small things will be especially important in the years to come. My long-term goals are to continue to learn new things, to become a great teacher, and to do worthwhile research.
  • What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
    My parents, with engineering and teaching backgrounds, definitely had the greatest influence on my life choices. The experience of going to graduate school opened my eyes to research--an engineering career that I hadn't given consideration to before.
  • What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
    The opportunities for great jobs are endless. There are many challenging problems to work on; find one that matches your interests and then find people to learn from.
  • Any other stories or comments you would like to share with EngineerGirl visitors?
    The opportunities for great jobs are endless. There are many challenging problems to work on; find one that matches your interests and then find people to learn from.
  • Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
    I love sports and spending time outside. My town is a great place for golf, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and skiing.
Biography
I am a mechanical engineering professor. I work with graduate students on research projects involving the development of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). We do a lot of laboratory experiments and computer analysis. I also teach classes on manufacturing topics.
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Volunteer Opportunities
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to serve as science fair judge or other temporary volunteer at a local school.
  • I am willing to host a field trip to my place of employment.
Latest Questions
  • Kaylee

    Added Tuesday, October 31, 2017 at 1:25 AM

    I have a degree in physiology, but know I am for sure switching to engineering. I don't feel that I'm all that interested in biomedical engineering though. Would a second bachelor's be worth it? Or should I pursue a master's degree? What is the difference between having a bachelor's or a master's in engineering?
    Answers 1
    Michele Miller, Michigan Technological University
    Answered 9 days AGO
    Kaylee,
    
    That's great to hear that you are thinking about switching fields.  I would recommend talking with someone at the college you are interested in.  Most engineering departments have a Graduate Director--that would be a good person.  Some ...
    Read More
  • Lauren, Zeeland, MI

    Added Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 10:42 PM

    I graduated with an Industrial Engineering degree in December of 2007. In school I had great internship experiences and at graduation I had 2 job offers. But right before I could accept one, my husband's job changed and we moved to Michigan. In Michigan in 2008, there just weren't jobs. Shortly after, we had our first child who was born with special needs and I knew I needed to be home with him. Fast forward eight years and two more kids and I'm itching to get out of the house and put my brain ...
    Answers 1
    Michele Miller, Michigan Technological University
    Answered Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 10:42 PM
    That's a great question, and honestly I don't know the answer.  I doubt your degree is useless but it probably needs updating.  I would talk with someone at Grand Valley.  You might consider taking a couple courses there.  In addition to learning new ...
    Read More
  • Jaime, Denver

    Added Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    Is it possible to pursue a Master in Mechanical Engineering after getting a Bachelor's in Computer Science?? If its not possible what will make it possible??
    Answers 1
    Michele Miller, Michigan Technological University
    Answered Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 11:42 PM
    Hi, Jaime.  It is possible but you will probably have to take several undergrad Mechanical Engineering (ME) courses in addition to the masters coursework.  The number of courses will depend on the grad school that you go to.  If you're still working on ...
    Read More
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