College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Ava Depping: Outstanding senior in mechanical engineering

Whether through volunteer work or mentorship of the next generation, I want to continue sharing my passion for learning and help others find passions of their own in a safe space.

Hometown: Madrid, Iowa

Clubs and activities: Laboratory technician, undergraduate teaching assistant, undergraduate research assistant, tutor, First-Year Honors Mentorship Program, Honors course instructor, Canatmus choir member, Lyrica choir member, Science Explorations Club president, residence hall floor social chair, NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS), Honors Philanthropy committee member, Iowa FIRST LEGO League Volunteer, ISU 4U Promise volunteer, Tau Beta Pi

Valuable hands-on learning experiences: My co-op at Frontline Bioenergy allowed me to explore wherever my curiosity led me. One of their talented engineers – many of which are Iowa State alums – was always willing to teach me or point me in the right direction. Whether it was mechanical, chemical, or electrical, they gave me hands-on opportunities to be involved and contribute.

Starting at Iowa State in undeclared engineering, I was often hesitant about what kind of engineer I wanted to be. The engineers at Frontline acted as role models – teaching me the importance of an engineer’s career – and helped me assess what academic areas I wanted to learn more about during the rest of my time at Iowa State.

Influential mentor: I met Rachel Eike through the First-Year Honors Mentorship Program, and although Dr. Eike is an assistant professor of apparel, events and hospitality management – not an engineer – she taught me confidence in my abilities.

Dr. Eike encouraged me to ask questions and never be afraid of reaching out to more experienced individuals. She not only connected me with many inspiring researchers – inside and outside of my field of study – but also helped me grow as a person by teaching me, “never fear being wrong as it’s just another opportunity to learn.”

Greatest accomplishment: Working with my fellow club members in Science Explorations to make our programs more inclusive of all gender minorities and adapt to a world amid a pandemic.

When I started as president in 2019, Science Explorations collaborated with other clubs and businesses to host STEM camps targeted toward third- through fifth-grade girls in Ames. Today, Science Explorations targets all gender minorities and reaches students throughout the Midwest.

Plans for after graduation: I will be starting my career as a mechanical engineer for Frontline Bioenergy LLC in Nevada, Iowa, alongside many other Cyclone Engineers.

I will be helping to design biomass gasification systems to produce renewable energy, fuels and products. I also hope to start master’s classes in the fall and continue to grow my capabilities as an engineer and researcher while being a working professional.

Leaving my mark on the world: It may be ambitious, but there are many different marks I want to leave on the world. I want to contribute to a cleaner future. Through my work at Frontline, I hope to assist in renewable energy solutions that can leave the world better than we received it.

I also hope to continue serving as a role model to the younger generation. Whether through volunteer work or mentorship of interns, I want to continue sharing my passion for learning and help others find passions of their own in a safe space.

I also want to continuously contribute to the world’s knowledge. I believe asking questions, making discoveries, and creating something new helps yourself grow, and sharing that with the world helps humanity grow as well.

Engineering like a Cyclone Engineer: Unironically, the opportunity to choose your own adventure is what makes Iowa State so unique and awesome. I may have started out at Iowa State unsure. But, with the support of great faculty and resources, I was able to explore any interest, find my passions, and build a community for myself. I now have no hesitation that the adventure I’ve chosen will lead to a fulfilling future.