Student Spotlight - Mia Nelson

January 04, 2024
Mia Nelson wears a pruple blouse sitting on a restaurant patio.



Mia Nelson - She/Her
Pursuing a Bachelor of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering
Anticipated graduation date: Spring 2025

Tell us about yourself!

I am from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Although I grew up in the city, my neighborhood felt like a small community. My childhood home is within blocks of Minnehaha creek. My family spent a lot of time on walks, runs, or bike rides down the parkway and around the nearby lakes. My family is very outgoing, which wouldn't surprise anyone who knows me. My mom is a pianist, so there is constantly music throughout our house. My dad has a few jobs. He is a realtor, a business owner, and is continuously doing some sort of construction project on our house. My younger sister is a junior in college. She loves singing (she is in 3 choirs!) and movie nights.

Why did you choose Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering?

I found BBE the summer before my senior year of high school. I was fortunate to receive a call from an admissions counselor at UMN who told me about BBE. I had been debating between Chemical and Environmental Engineering as my favorite subjects were chemistry and math, but I had a strong passion for the environment. I was able to meet with Ulrike and Erik to learn more about BBE. I also attended a few zoom calls with current BBE students. I almost instantly fell in love with the program. I think I only applied to three schools because I was so set on BBE, and boy has it worked out!

What has been a favorite course or project in your program? 
I would have to say that my favorite course in BBE so far has been Biological and Environmental Thermodynamics with Bruce Wilson. Professor Wilson is genuinely one of the best professors I have ever had. He not only knows the content like the back of his hand, having written his own textbook, he also clearly enjoys teaching. 

He would frequently introduce a problem  to the class with a smile on his face, telling us how fun it is. As someone who thoroughly enjoys learning, it was so motivating to have a professor who also enjoys teaching. 

I would say outside of classes, my favorite experience so far was my internship this past summer. I worked as a Process Development Engineering intern for Medtronic in Santa Rosa, CA. I was given two main projects throughout the summer. The first was a fixture design project where I was tasked with designing, fabricating, and implementing two camera systems on a pre-clinical production line. I also completed a LEAN manufacturing project in which I redesigned the entire clinical production line in anticipation of clinical builds. I leaned so much, made valuable connections, and got to live in a different part of the country for the whole summer. I never could have done it without the opportunities BBE has provided me.

What student groups or extracurricular activities are you involved in and why?

I have been the Outreach Coordinator for the Food and Bioproducts Engineering Organization (FaBEO) for over a year now, and I was a member before then. I joined my freshman year as a way to meet more BBE students, get involved in leadership, and to learn. As a freshman, it was somewhat intimidating to attend meetings as I often didn't know much. However, everyone made me feel comfortable and welcomed. It became a part of my week that I look forward to.

What are your career goals after graduation?

As of right now, I hope to take a few months off after graduating and then jump straight into industry. This coming summer I will be working as an R&D Engineering intern for Andersen Windows. I hope by the end of the summer, after completing both of my internships, I will have a better idea of what kind of engineering I want to go into post-graduation.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with the BBE community?

Don't be afraid to take internships in other parts of the country. It can be scary and a big change, but moving to California for three months was genuinely one of the best experiences I have had! Most companies will offer amazing relocation packages for interns.