Outstanding Grad: Katia Benson, Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering

Katia Benson
Katia Benson

For as long as she can remember, Katia Benson has wanted to be an inventor, so pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering wasn’t a stretch.

What may be more surprising is her choice to join the Peace Corps after graduation. In September, the Colorado Springs native and soon-to-be Colorado State University alumna will head to the African nation of Lesotho, where she’ll serve for two years as a math teacher.

After transferring to CSU from another university, Benson has been a mechE’s mechE ­– thriving in her classes, joining the EcoCAR 3 team, and taking on a challenging solar refrigeration project for senior design. She’s also coordinating microgrid engineering workshops on behalf of her senior design advisor, Dan Zimmerle, and partners at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Finally, Benson is a materials innovation intern at HP, proudly authoring three patents on behalf of the company (so she can check off that “become an inventor” goal).

“It’s a dream job,” she says of her internship, where she’s worked the past two summers plus 20 hours a week during the school year. She is grateful to her mentors at HP, who have been generous to her and to her career.

Contribute to the world

Last spring, Benson started getting a small feeling that she might be able to contribute to the world in other ways.

She began researching humanitarian engineering, and she realized there are many needs in far-flung places that engineers can fill. She’d like to use her degree to make profound differences in people’s lives, no matter where it takes her across the globe.

That’s why she opted for the Peace Corps, where she can gain the experience of living remotely, away from the comforts of home, and she can begin taking those intentional steps toward a meaningful career. One of the founders of the Peace Corps, the late CSU civil engineering professor Maurice Albertson, would thoroughly approve of her choice.

And not to mention, Benson’s excited by the prospect of teaching math.

“I love teaching kids, and I believe math is a powerful tool,” she said. “I am quickly learning that education is a first step toward a better life, and I am over the moon about being able to contribute.”