Mechanical engineering student shines in Leonhard Speaking Contest

February 18, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Jared Bunch, a junior studying mechanical engineering, won the 2019 Penn State Leonhard Speaking Contest held on February 7.

Currently in its 19th year, the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education has challenged engineering undergraduates to hone their communications skills with a 10-minute presentation conveying an engineering solution to a societal problem.

“To truly excel in engineering, students need to be able to communicate effectively,” Michael Alley, associate teaching professor, said. “This competition is a great way to challenge our students to raise their skill set and practice communicating complex engineering concepts to a broad audience.”

Bunch took first place with a speech detailing Starshade Technology and how it has changed the way humanity views exoplanets.

Jared Bunch

Jared Bunch delivers his winning presentation.

He capped off his speech invoking famed astronaut John Glenn by saying, “To me, every time we go deeper into space, we should use that to perform basic research which could not have been done before we got there.”

Reflecting on his win, Bunch said, “I feel that, as engineers, the way we present and communicate our information is just about as important as the information itself. Engineers are working on problems that are revolutionary and impact a large portion of our society.” 

He added, “However, if we do not know how to convey our work to others, whether that be bosses, congressmen, or investors, then it is very difficult for us to allow our work to permeate through society where it can truly make an impact.”

Additional honors were awarded to:

  • Second Place: Kaitlyn Pigeon (Industrial Engineering)
  • People's Choice: Erin Liddy (Industrial Engineering), Joel Seidel (General Engineering)

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Erin Cassidy Hendrick,

"I feel that, as engineers, the way we present and communicate our information is just about as important as the information itself."

- Jared Bunch, junior studying mechanical engineering



With more than 60 faculty members, 330 graduate students, and 800 undergraduate students, the Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering embraces a culture that welcomes individuals with a diversity of backgrounds and expertise. Our faculty and students are innovating today what will impact tomorrow’s solutions to meeting our energy needs, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems. We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S.) graduate degrees in mechanical engineering. See how we’re inspiring change and impacting tomorrow at

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The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519