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Senior excels at dance as well as engineering

Maureen Gundlach pushes herself on an almost daily basis toward two seemingly disparate goals: To be a better dancer and to be a better engineer.

“Two parts of me are always pulling in opposite directions,” said the fifth-year senior from Bellport, Long Island.

Make no mistake, though, Gundlach excels at both sides of her life. She has performed in numerous campus shows, often serving as dance captain, and last year helped to create The Collaborative Dance Project. The small dance company staged a show featuring 10 pieces choreographed by its members. (Gundlachs was called This Is Why I’m Failing Physics, a joke since she really earned an A-minus.)

Gundlach, 22, is treasurer of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, as well as president of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). She attended Binghamton University tuition free for four years through the Binghamton Scholars program and is devoting a fifth year to complete her major in mechanical engineering. “She has single handedly brought compassion and the goal of social justice into SWE,” said George Catalano, a professor of mechanical engineering who is also director of the scholars program.

Gundlach had a summer job studying bulletproof vests at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the research arm of the Commerce Department. She tested the tensile properties of individual fibers of Zylon, a material used in the vests. “I was doing engineering,” she said, “and I could see a very practical use for it.”

This year, she and a friend plan to do a senior project involving the creation of a portable biodiesel processor.

“The mere existence of our culture should not degrade the environment,” said Gundlach, an environmentalist with an interest in sustainability. “We need to work along with the laws of nature, and not just muscle through them.”

Gundlach plans to move to New York City after graduation. She hopes to try her luck as a dancer while applying to graduate school for engineering.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08