Academic excellence, UAV experience propel mechanical engineering student marshal to success

April 22, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Kimberly Hunt, an outstanding student at Penn State, has been selected as the student marshal representing the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the spring 2019 commencement ceremony.

Hunt, a West Chester, Pennsylvania native, earned a 4.0 GPA and numerous honors during her academic career, including the President’s Freshman Award, Sparks Award, and Evan Pugh Scholar Junior and Senior Awards.

Outside of the classroom, Hunt served as the vice president and aeromechanical lead of the Penn State Unmanned Aerial Systems student organization. An interdisciplinary team of undergraduates, their focus is on the design, building, and flight of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

She said, “I was able to work with so many other disciplines like software, electrical, and of course, aerospace engineering, which helped me develop my own skills.”

In June 2019, the students will participate in a competition that challenges them to build and deploy a helicopter system to conduct mock search and rescue missions. Through their persistence, the UAV will be able to navigate, avoid obstacles, identify objects, and deliver payloads without any human assistance.

“We even built an autonomous ground vehicle that was carried by the UAV and then was able to navigate further through a rescue zone,” she explained. “When I joined the group, this really turned from an interest to a passion.”

Further stoking the fire, this is where she first networked with her future employer, the Boeing Company, one of the sponsors of the project. After graduation, Hunt is excited to begin her career as a mechanical engineer.

A firm advocate for women in mechanical engineering, Hunt also plans to make a conscious effort to reach backwards and support other students in their journeys, as she says the Department of Mechanical Engineering did for her.

She explained, “A lot of the gender disparity that exists can partly be attributed to young girls not thinking STEM is a path they should choose. I hope to show them how fun it is and open their minds to view that as an option.”

“Even though women still make up a small portion of engineering as a whole, I see it continuing to get better. I find it very inspiring to be a part of that climb,” she added. “Penn State has been a really positive environment to be a female engineer.” 

Adding to her professional portfolio, Hunt also completed internships with Textron Systems and Daniel J. Keating, a construction company based in Pennsylvania.

“I feel like I wouldn’t be where I am today without my hands-on experience,” she said. “It’s one thing to learn theory but being able to take everything and apply it to a project and communicate about it to a person outside the discipline, that’s really important.”

Eric Marsh, the Glenn Professor of Engineering Education and the associate head for mechanical engineering undergraduate programs, will be Hunt’s faculty escort during the commencement ceremony.


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Kimberly Hunt

Kimberly Hunt, the mechanical engineering student marshal in spring 2019.



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

Department of Mechanical Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519