Lexington native is taking her engineering expertise to Harvard

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Rachel Seevers
Rachel Seevers
  • Rachel Seevers has accumulated $120,000 in scholarship money that she will use to advance her education at one of the most prestigious universities in the country.
  • Seevers wants to show that anyone can make a difference in STEM regardless of gender or their birthplace.

By Jacob Perkins
Jacob.perkins@education.ky.gov

Rachel Seevers, a 2019 graduate of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (Fayette County), has a passion.

She has competed in, and won, engineering competitions throughout the country and has accumulated $120,000 in scholarship money – money that she will be using to attend Harvard University.

While engineering is one of Seevers’ passions, her real passion is inspiring the future women engineers of Kentucky.

Although women are half of the U.S. college-educated workforce, according to the National Girls Collaborative Project, women account for only 29% of the science and engineering workforce.

This is a statistic that Seevers hopes will change.

This is the logo for the What Will You Be KY campaign.“Truly the most gratifying of all my accomplishments is the fact that I am seen as an inspiration for girls in STEM,” she said. “It is my passion to try to get more girls involved with science, technology, engineering and math and to inspire just one girl to pursue her dreams is a dream come true for me.”

One of Seevers’ many accomplishments was being one of the four top winners in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). It was at ISEF that she presented a novel propulsion system for underwater autonomous vehicles – think submarines – which by mimicking the motion of a jellyfish can improve the efficiency of these vehicles by up to 37%.

“The way it works is by imitating both the vortex ring created upon contraction and expansion of the jellyfish’s bell simply by manipulating the internal pressure gradient,” she explained. “This can lead way to a fully functioning device that can explore the world’s oceans and provide answers to some of the most pressing environmental questions today.”

At ISEF, Seevers won $58,000 from category awards and a special award called the Shanghai STEM Cloud Award.

“My win has hopefully shown that anyone can make a difference in STEM regardless of gender or where you’re from,” she said.

Seevers recalled her first trip to ISEF back in 2017, where she visited a wishing tree and wrote, “Win a grand award at ISEF by 2019.”

“I have dreamed about this moment for many, many years,” Seevers said. “As a middle school student, I always looked up to the people who won ISEF, and I never even thought they were human, much less that they were like me. But I wanted to be up on that stage so badly, so I worked really hard.”

It was this hard work that led to her being accepted to Harvard University, where she will study mechanical engineering and “most likely economics.”

“(Attending Harvard) is honestly a dream come true for me, and I couldn’t imagine a better university for me,” she said. “It really fits my goals of studying both engineering and business and one day pursuing policy and serving my country from within the government.”

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