Commencement Feature: Manufacturing success | Rebekah Shepherd

Rebekah at commencement

Once Rebekah Shepherd crosses the stage at commencement, she’ll be done with school for the first time in nearly two decades.

Having already earned her bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from UCCS, Rebekah went straight into pursuing her master of science in the same discipline and is eager for life’s next steps.

“I am excited and nervous to start a new chapter,” said Rebekah. “I’ve been in school for about 20 years straight since preschool and I’m ready to see what’s next.”

What’s next is Rebekah’s first post-academia role in Washington, where she has already accepted a job with Boeing as a manufacturing engineer.

“I am thrilled for this opportunity and can’t wait to explore a new area,” she shared.

Though being out of school is new for Rebekah, she’s already had plenty of experience in the engineering field between projects, research and club activities. She is an active member of the Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory (AML) on campus and longtime volunteer at the Space Foundation, has been heavily involved in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), including co-founding the local branch of their Design, Build, Fly (DBF) competition, has served as a teaching assistant and lab instructor at UCCS and more.

“Throughout my time at the AML I have worked on several polymer science projects and worked alongside great peers and advisors,” said Rebekah. “A lot of my friends came from my involvement in AIAA and from co-founding DBF, and I will miss the community that I was able to build here at UCCS.”

Rebekah and her Design, Build, Fly team

The engineering program on campus was pivotal in Rebekah’s decision to join the Mountain Lion family, and has been behind many of her favorite moments during her college career.

“I toured the campus and loved the variety of paths students could pursue,” Rebekah said. “I also liked the location and knew I wanted a mechanical engineering degree, so it was a great place for me. I have fond memories from making lifelong friends in the engineering center, building planes with DBF and travelling to Sweden with my Senior Design team.”

“Dr. Jena McCollum has been a great advisor and has always been supportive,” she added. “I am thankful for her giving me research opportunities in the lab that helped me kickstart my career.”

Rebekah and her partner, Long Tran

Rebekah’s past research topics include polymer electrolytes and thermoplastics, with the latter prompting a research article that became her first publication.

“My publication outlined research on how changing manufacturing parameters impacted the strength of injection molded fluorinated thermoplastics,” Rebekah explained. “It was exciting to publish the research that I worked on and the writing I have done in the lab has improved my technical communication skills. Additionally, my thesis work focused on characterizing the cure kinetics and structures of polymer electrolytes for use in batteries and electric vehicle applications.”

Rebekah’s lab work, research and various projects have obviously been significant parts of her university career, but she emphasized the need for students to have fun as well.

“I don’t remember a single one of the nights that I spent studying for an exam, but I remember every game night, hike, road trip, first remote control plane flight, and adventure that I took with my friends,” she said. “Do the stuff you have to, it’s important, but it’s not what you’ll remember.”

With the constraints of school almost behind her, Rebekah’s looking forward to the next chapter and its new possibilities while exploring her current interests in a fresh environment.

“I love hiking, any type of craft, and spending time with friends and family – like my parents, whose support I am so thankful for,” she said. “For the future, I’d like to get a few more international trips under my belt, expand my crafting skills and continue to be surrounded by loved ones.”

About the UCCS College of Engineering and Applied Science

The College of Engineering and Applied Science enrolls more than 1,700 students and offers 23 engineering and computer science degrees, ranging from bachelor to doctoral. The college is a Department of Homeland Security / National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense and works closely with the National Cybersecurity Center and with more than 250 aerospace and defense, information technology, cybersecurity and engineering organizations in the Pikes Peak region. Learn more about the College of Engineering and Applied Science at UCCS.