Natalie is a senior at Virginia Tech, graduating this May.  She is majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Green Energy.  Natalie and her teammates are working on the Wheelchair Tire Cleaner.  Our challenger, Adam Keys, lives a very active lifestyle and frequently tracks dirt and debris into his home from his manual and powered wheelchairs.  The challenge is to create a wheelchair tire cleaner device that Adam can use to thoroughly clean his tires before he enters his home.  

Why did you choose your major?  I knew I wanted to pursue engineering, but I chose mechanical because it is broad and allows me the opportunity to apply the skills I learn to various fields.  

Describe your experience working with QL+ so far.  What has been your biggest challenge?  What has been rewarding?  It has been a privilege working with QL+ because of everyone’s passion and dedication to the cause.  I appreciate how everyone is so invested in the success of our device for Adam, especially the continual support of Jon and Barb.  One of our biggest challenges has been when a part does not work exactly how we designed or expected it to.  Though, the team works well together to find solutions and move forward.  The most rewarding aspect of my experience with QL+ is working with our challenger, Adam.  He truly is an inspiring (and funny) individual who motivates the team to keep working hard on this project and in life.  

What would you say to other students about QL+?  I would tell other students that getting involved with QL+ provides them the opportunity to give back to those who served, while also applying practical engineering skills.  My involvement with QL+ has been the most challenging, yet worthwhile experience of my college career.  Also, it attracts other hard-working and motivated students, because I am on a team of seven other students.  Shoutout to Team 10!

What are your plans after graduation?  I will be working full-time with Newport News Shipbuilding, where they design, build and refuel the aircraft carriers and submarines for the Navy. I am looking forward to working as a Nuclear Engineer and for this new chapter!

What has been the proudest moment of your college career?  In my sophomore year, I was a mentor in my living-learning community to five freshmen ladies in engineering. Recently, I caught up with a few of them, and they are thriving in their majors with internships lined up for the summer. I am proud to have had a part in their first-year experience and am happy for their success. 

What three words best describe you?  Positive, Diligent, Personable

Natalie's father is a Retired Navy Chief and has been a constant supporter in the pursuit of secondary education.  Natalie is a recipient of the Jackson Casey Fund Scholarship from ThanksUSA.  ThanksUSA is a national non-profit that provides post-secondary scholarships and pathways to meaningful employment for children and spouses of military personnel.  Their worthwhile efforts have greatly assisted many in the military community. 

From Natalie:  "I would not be where I am today without his encouragement or the support of ThanksUSA.   I am a grateful recipient of a Jackson Casey Fund Scholarship and strive to honor his legacy by making the most of all my opportunities. This scholarship has greatly helped my family and allowed me to pursue my passions in college, succeed in my studies, and particularly focus on service. I am thankful to be part of a military family and strive to give back whenever I can, which is why I am honored by the chance to work with QL+."