Natasha Stefani

Mechanical Engineering Alumna, minor in Business

Stefani – wearing a UVic Rocketry T-Shirt, sunhat and outdoor gear – stands outdoors in the desert and shows two thumbs up.
Natasha Stefani gets ready to compete on the morning that UVic Rocketry launches its Hyak-1 in the New Mexico desert as part of the Spaceport America Cup 2018.

Studying engineering at the University of Victoria taught Natasha Stefani to look at the world around her in a whole new way.

The recent Mechanical Engineering grad says she was initially attracted to the field because of its practical focus on solving real-world problems. Yet as she worked her way through the program, she discovered that along with learning how to solve problems, engineering was actually reframing the way she views the world.

“Engineering has taught me to see the world through the eyes of design and problem solving,” said Stefani. “Once you start noticing design, you can see it all around and how fundamental it is to the functioning of the world.”

Since earning her degree last summer, Stefani has been putting her skills to work with UVic and Rowing Canada Aviron, the national body that governs the sport of rowing in Canada. She’s part of a team that has continued work initiated by a fourth-year engineering class last spring, which involves designing and building a testing apparatus that will help identify Olympic potential among Canadian rowers.

She’s a firm believer that diverse perspectives and backgrounds lead to better solutions among teams.

“I feel privileged be able to help pave the way for diversity within the workforce,” says Stefani. “And I hope to show that differences make a team stronger and allows for greater innovation.”

Plans for the future

Stefani says her longer-term goal involves working in the outdoor technical garment industry to help design and maintain sustainable manufacturing practices. With quality garments and gear playing such a huge role in people’s safety and enjoyment in the backcountry and other outdoor settings, there’s a big push in the industry to adopt practices that protect the environment that people are exploring.

“I want to help create products that unlock the outdoors and allow people to discover the natural beauty that surrounds them,” said Stefani, who herself loves to be out in nature, preferably on a mountain without cell reception.

Looking back on her time as a student, Stefani says some of her most memorable times involve being part of UVic Rocketry. Early in her degree, she joined the student team – which designs, builds and launches sounding rockets with innovative payloads for competition – and attended the Spaceport America Cup 2018 in New Mexico.

“Through this team I gained the unique experience of launching multiple student-designed rockets in the New Mexico desert,” Stefani recalls. “It was invigorating to see the product of countless people’s effort, many sleepless nights and industry support as it launched into the sky.”

Some insight for new students

Stefani encourages new engineering students to get involved, whether in teams or through other avenues.

“Your time will be short, so try to glean as much knowledge as you can from the people around you – your professors, lab assistants, teaching assistants and peers – their knowledge and expertise is such a resource,” she says.

At the same time, she emphasizes how important it is for students to take care of themselves while in school – now more than ever with the added challenges related to COVID-19.

“Take time during school to do things that refreshes and restores you and if you are struggling, reach out to someone,” Stefani says. “There are people around you who want to support and assist you – just sometimes they may not realize you’re struggling.”

2021Feb03 AT

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