As a former senior vice president at Southland Industries, Dave Peters was one of Southland’s greatest contributors — not only with his technical innovations, but also his passion for recruiting talented engineering students. After Dave passed away in 2011, the ASHRAE David C.J. Peters Scholarship was created to honor his accomplishments and dedication to rising young engineers. For several years, this scholarship has been awarded to some of the industry’s most promising engineering students.
This year’s scholarship winner is Rachel Coyle. A 2015 graduate of Pottsville Area High School, Rachel is a fourth-year architectural engineering student at The Pennsylvania State University.
How did you become interested in this industry?
[RC] When I was in high school, I talked to my guidance counselor to determine potential career paths, and she recommended engineering because of my interest in math and science. During the summer before my senior year of high school, I shadowed my dad’s cousin who is a Penn State AE construction option graduate. Throughout that day, he took me to job sites, owner’s meetings and architects’ and engineers’ offices. I fell in love with the industry that day, and from that day on I knew I wanted to major in architectural engineering. When I started college, I intended to study the construction option of AE, but after talking with faculty and upper-level students, my interest in the HVAC industry grew. I have had internships in both construction and mechanical design, both of which I really enjoyed, so I am now working on finding a career that combines both.
What activities and/or associations are you involved in at school?
[RC] I have been the Mentoring Vice President of the Student Society of Architectural Engineers for the past two years, but we are in the process of transitioning in a new executive board, so I will be passing on this role in the near future. I am a Vice President of Penn State’s ASHRAE Student Chapter. I am an Engineering Ambassador for Penn State’s College of Engineering. I am also a teaching assistant for Moses Ling, who teaches introductory mechanical option classes to AE and architecture students. In the past, I was a mentor for the Women in Engineering Program Orientation as well as the secretary of the AEI National Student Officers.
What are your favorite hobbies/activities outside of school?
[RC] I like to travel as much as I can, whether it be for conferences, internships or vacation. I studied abroad in China last summer, which was a great experience. My previous internships were in Rockville, MD and Orlando, FL, so I try to experience new places during my summers. I have also been to six states that I have never been to before because of opportunities that have arisen for conference trips.
I am also a big Penn State football fan. I have not missed a home game or left a game early in the four years I have been a student. The night we beat Ohio State during the 2016 season may or may not have been one of the greatest nights of my life.
What are your goals after graduation?
[RC] As I previously mentioned, I would like to find a career path that combines both mechanical and construction, so that is my goal for after graduation. I do not have a set location in mind, so I am keeping my options open in terms of full-time opportunities.