Michelle Boehm grew up near Cincinnati, about a 3-½ hour drive from the University of Illinois campus and chose Illinois over Purdue after being offered an Engineering Visionary Scholarship. These are awarded based on academic ability and leadership potential and recipients are expected to excel in their class work and develop as leaders. This year, the College of Engineering will graduate its first group of EVS scholars.

The daughter of two mechanical engineers, Boehm joins a small, yet growing number of females in the field.  She has benefitted from being housed in a Living-Learning Community as a freshman and by getting involved with the Women in Engineering student group early.

Community Involvement & Leadership

Boehm, a senior in mechanical science and engineering, has held executive board positions for Pi Tau Sigma, the Mechanical Engineering Honor Society, and has been involved in many of the organizations’ service projects, including Relay for Life, and helping set up exhibits at the Children’s Orpheum Museum in downtown Champaign.

Having grown up going to engineering camps, Boehm is especially excited about Pi Tau Sigma’s partnership with Booker T. Washington Elementary School’s after-school program.  The purpose is to get kids interested in technology at an early age.

“These kinds of programs had such an impact on my life,” Boehm said. “I hope to give the same experience to those students.”

In addition, Boehm has played a part in Engineering Open House all four years, has been a James Scholar, has been a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, and is enrolled in the Campus Honors program, where she has taken classes on such topics as Africa, astronomy and geology while also traveling to Yellowstone National Park.

“Those experiences have shown me areas outside of engineering, but where engineering concepts could be applied,” Boehm said of the courses in the Campus Honors Program.


Typically students take a single semester to work on a senior design project, but Boehm has chosen one that overlaps two semesters. She is one of eight working with John Deere out of their location at the U of I Research Park designing an autonomous weeding system for farmers. Last semester the group developed a spray system and this semester they are working on a mechanical weeder.

“This has been one of the more rewarding experiences I have had,” Boehm said of the senior project. “It has offered a more real world understanding of how to develop a budget, work on a timeline, talk to your sponsor, make presentations, and file reports.”

A Career at Rolls-Royce

Boehm said she was torn between pursuing a career in mechanical engineering or in the biomedical field. She has really enjoyed classes in thermodynamics, heat transfer and manufacturing, but has taken a few bioengineering classes to help keep her options open.

Boehm has accepted a position with Aero Engine Controls, part of the Rolls-Royce Group, and will work out of the company’s Indianapolis headquarters. She’ll be involved in testing control and flow systems throughout the United States and England and hopes to eventually move into a management role. Throughout the interview process, she has further appreciated the respect that Illinois has in the industry.

The Benefit of Illinois

“People I have interviewed with say that Illinois has always been one of the top recruiting spots for them,” Boehm pointed out. “Some of them only have five or six schools they go to and Illinois is one of them. It is one of the many ways that I have greatly benefitted from choosing to study at such a prestigious university.”