Bianca Mielke has been taking engineering classes since high school, and she’s always loved math. She’s also “been in a tutu forever.” So when it came time for college, she hoped to satisfy her passions for all.
“It was tough to find. At every school I visited, I felt like I had to give up one thing for something else. But at Union, I could get a strong engineering and science background and also perform as part of a full dance department in a beautiful new building.
“I took a dance class every term. I love that I could exercise both sides of my brain in the same day. Engineering gives me a basic understanding of the world around me, while dancing centers and energizes me.”
Bianca is interested in going into the management side of the field as opposed to manufacturing or design. She’s well on her way. As part of a Union collaboration called IMPACT (Industry Mentoring Program – Advancing Career Tracks), she worked with a patent lawyer at General Electric Co. in Schenectady for two years.
Under the program, some dozen GE mentors, many of them Union alumni or parents, are paired with STEM students, helping them develop both professional and technical skills at meetings throughout the academic year.
Senior year, while working on a thesis on underwater data collection, Bianca accepted a full-time job with GE, which she held while concurrently finishing courses toward her degree.
“It was such as release to dance at the end of the day after doing math and science for hours.”
Choreographing for the annual senior dance show posed both challenges and excitement. “It was emotional and hard to choreograph a dance encapsulating everything I was feeling. The dance was titled, ‘No Need to Say Goodbye.’ We had such a strong group of women, including bioengineering, biology and neuroscience majors. Union has a lot of engineers who dance, who respect and understand each other’s commitments.”
In addition to her academic activities, Bianca volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters, served as a peer tutor and studied at the Czech Technical University in Prague as part of a Union exchange program. She managed student alumni fundraising efforts, and was a Sigma Delta Tau sorority member and a Pre-Orientation program leader.
Of her main passions, she muses, “In the engineering lab and the dance studio, I was surrounded by such positive energy.”