Class of 2020: Detroit Mercy ‘greater than I could have ever expected’
When choosing which college she wanted attend, Brynne Gustafson’s wish-list was concise: study engineering at a small university and be involved in something outside of the classroom.
University of Detroit Mercy checked all Gustafson’s boxes back in 2016, and four years later, she leaves the McNichols Campus well equipped for the professional world and with lots of memories.
“Looking back upon the last four years, my experience at Detroit Mercy has been greater than I could have ever expected,” said Gustafson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and starred on the Titans’ track and field team as a thrower.
Mathematics and science were two of her stronger subjects in high school, which piqued her interest in engineering. She believed the mechanical path would open many doors for her future.
It’s hard to argue with the results. Gustafson earned a 3.94 GPA at Detroit Mercy and was involved in several engineering-related organizations and activities that helped her advance professionally.
As a sophomore, Gustafson was part of a Detroit Mercy team that helped the College of Engineering & Science earn a six-figure grant from DTE Energy. The statewide E-Challenge Competition, sponsored by DTE and the Engineering Society of Detroit, focused on energy efficiency technologies.
Gustafson’s team — including then-sophomores Wiley Dressel, Kaegan Kumnick and Michael Brill — focused on bringing “smart” technology to HVAC systems, which would allow users to customize climate control in a house or building on a room-by-room basis. The project transformed a wing of the Engineering Building for testing and adjusting of the team’s ideas.
Detroit Mercy’s team was one of three finalists in the E-Challenge Competition. Gustafson received a scholarship for participating.
“We were very fortunate to make it to the final round given we were competing against graduate students from two large universities,” Gustafson said. “This was a very unique experience to be a part of as a sophomore. I have used the experience and knowledge I gained during the competition in my final two years of school, and my senior design project.”
Following the competition, Gustafson, Dressell and Kumnick created an Engineering Society of Detroit student chapter at Detroit Mercy. The professional society assists the student chapter in providing career services, from workshops to networking events to career fairs.
Gustafson was president of Detroit Mercy’s student chapter of the Engineering Society of Detroit. She was also involved in the engineering fraternity Tau Beta Pi.
All these engineering-centered experiences helped jumpstart Gustafson’s professional career. Come June, she’ll be working full-time as a technical coordinator at Walbridge after interning with the Detroit-based construction company for the past two summers through Detroit Mercy’s Cooperative Education program.
Gustafson, who competed for Detroit Mercy’s track and field team in shot put, weight throw, hammer throw and discus, saw her senior season end prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite how her athletic career concluded, Gustafson embraced the challenges of being a student-athlete and reaped the rewards it provided.
“Being a student athlete means you always have somewhere to be and something to do. I keep myself going by telling myself that all the hard work will pay off in the end, and it most definitely has,” Gustafson said. “Crazy as it sounds I will miss the late nights studying at the library, early morning workouts and tough practices, cramming for tests, and long bus rides to competition. Through it all I have gained experiences and friendships that will last forever and, to me, that makes it all worth it.”
Gustafson’s favorite memory at Detroit Mercy involved an unexpected trip to California.
“The majority of our track meets are in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, and once a year we go to a meet down south to kick off the outdoor season. But every so often the coach will take some of the more elite upperclassmen to a meet farther away,” she said. “To my surprise, I was invited to go to a meet at Stanford University as a sophomore. Having never been to California, this was by far one of the best experiences of my college career. The track itself was very beautiful and I got to compete against some of the best throwers in the country.
“Outside of competing we got to go on hikes and go sightseeing. I know that if I was on any other team I wouldn’t have been able to have this opportunity and I am very grateful to have gone.”
Her time at Detroit Mercy may be over, but Gustafson appreciates everything about those four memorable years.
“I would recommend this university because I believe the professors and staff at Detroit Mercy want the best for the students. With small class sizes and personable professors, the education provided is truly student-centered,” she said. “Detroit Mercy also embodies Mercy and Jesuit traditions to give back and help the great city of Detroit. My one piece of advice is to get involved in something outside of the classroom. Detroit Mercy offers many opportunities for students in athletics, clubs, ministry, community outreach and more.”