Outstanding Graduate, Spring 2023
Emmie Benard’s interest in materials science and engineering was ignited by her love for chemistry and the outdoors, which developed into a desire to combat climate change. Her enthusiasm for the field was fueled by the collaborative nature of engineering innovation she discovered at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.
“Engineering is fun because it always involves working with others,” Benard says. “You can never engineer alone. While you are attempting to solve problems, you get to meet amazing people along the way!”
She has made these key connections with her peers through her coursework and her participation in extracurricular activities. Benard has served as the outreach chair and vice president of Material Advantage, the materials science and engineering club at ASU. In these roles, she has led the organization’s trivia team in an annual national materials science and engineering conference and competition.
In addition to activities related to her major, Benard has participated in soccer and volleyball intramurals at ASU and also served as the marketing coordinator for Run Devils, a student organization dedicated to running.
During her time at ASU, Benard honed her research ability through participation in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative, or FURI, and sharpened her mentoring skills as a counselor for the E2 student welcome event and a teaching assistant in three engineering courses.
She cites her work as a teaching assistant as the most meaningful of her experiences during her undergraduate career.
“This role has humbled me and drastically increased my appreciation for those who love to learn and teach!” she says. “It has made me realize how much I do not know and how important it is to be kind to those around you.”
One of the professors who mentored her as a teaching assistant is Senior Research Specialist Shahriar Anwar, who inspired Benard due to his focus on curiosity and discovery in his teaching. Professor Sefaattin Tongay championed Benard’s success by encouraging her to apply for scholarships, the National Science Foundation-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates and the Summer Undergraduate Laboratory Internship at Brookhaven National Laboratory, as well as including her in his lab’s projects.
Off campus, Benard has volunteered at Escalante Community Garden through the Tempe Community Action Agency. She has also volunteered in car care clinics for single moms, filling air in tires and changing engine oil.
After graduation, Benard plans to attain her master’s degree in one year through ASU’s Accelerated Master’s degree program. She wants to travel and explore Arizona and the neighboring states during this year while preparing to work in the clean energy field.
“I want to use engineering to make the world a better place, both in the realm of clean energy and through teaching,” Benard says. “There is richness in living and learning; this is the footprint I want to leave.”