Rachel’s Journey: From 4-H to Young Engineer of the Year

March 21, 2017

Hard work and dedication took her from blue-ribbon winner to Young Engineer of the Year.

SEH civil engineer Rachel Pichelmann was presented with two Young Engineer of the Year awards. One from the Minnesota Federation of Engineering, Science, and Technology Societies (MFESTS) and the other from Society of American Military Engineers (SAME).

The awards were presented at MFESTS’ annual awards and recognition banquet. The MFESTS is an organization of engineering-related member societies within Minnesota. There currently are 19 societies/chapters, representing approximately 6,000 people.

Rachel Pichelmann (left), SEH civil engineer, was presented with Young Engineer of the Year awards from the MFESTS and SAME organizations. She is pictured receiving the awards with her sister.

Rachel attributes her success in engineering to her south-central Minnesota farming roots and involvement in 4-H throughout her childhood. It was during her senior year of high school she began a project for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Citizen Stream Monitoring Program. This project led her down her current path of floodplain management.

“I conducted a water quality project involving measuring rainfall and stream turbidity, then correlating the two,” Rachel shares. “This project sparked an interest in water quality, and led me on the path of getting a Civil Engineering degree with an environmental emphasis.”

She presented the high school project to her local 4-H club and at the state fair, where she received grand champion honors for her work.

Today, her work still mirrors that first engineering project.

“Much of the work I do now involves creating hydraulic models of rivers and streams, and using them to identify flood risks, evaluate proposed projects, and test alternatives which may reduce flood risk,” Rachel says.

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But her efforts don’t stop there. Aside from being a professional engineer, Rachel is a certified floodplain manager and has served as the secretary of Minneapolis/St. Paul Post of SAME since 2010. She also strengthens relationships with area schools by presenting on STEM topics. She has also been given the SAME Regional Vice President’s Medal for her consistent and outstanding service to the organization.

But, she takes all of the accolades in stride.

“I appreciate being recognized by SAME and MFESTS,” she says. “Honestly, though, I really do enjoy doing all of the activities that were part of my nomination. Some people might think it takes a ton of time or effort, but many of the activities (STEM outreach especially) have been very rewarding experiences, and I'm grateful for the opportunities to do them!”

She was also recently recognized as a recipient of the SEH Act of Excellence award for her exemplary character.

Hard work and dedication really do go a long way.

Contact Rachel

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