Environmental engineer used to build legos to the ceiling
Becky Mitrovich loved legos as a child; her massive creations required the help of her six-foot-four father to stay standing while she put on the finishing touches.
“I used to build [legos] to the ceiling in the living room,” Mitrovich said. “My dad…would have to hold it and [he would] get really annoyed because it wouldn’t stand by itself until it reached the ceiling.” Her passion for design and invention began in fourth grade when a civil engineer gave her class a demonstration on bridges. He used a program to show the students what went into constructing bridges, how they stay standing and what happens when the design doesn’t work. Since then she has dreamed of building bridges.
Mitrovich is in her senior year at SLU. She’s studying civil engineering and chemistry, a combination she finds perfect for her more recent interest in environmental engineering. Mitrovich’s focus on environmental engineering is an extension of her aim to help create a cleaner and healthier environment. Indeed, her decision to go into engineering was also fueled by her passion for improving the daily lives of others.
“[Civil engineering] is a lot of basic stuff you kind of take for granted,” Mitrovich said. “You just expect the roadway to be there and you expect to be able to get to where you need to go. So it’s a lot of stuff you need to maintain our lifestyle. I liked that aspect because I felt like I was giving back to the community.”
Civil engineering is more than building roadways and bridges though. Mitrovich is part of a team of innovation scholars (iScholars) in the process of developing a recyclable pen. The iScholars program is multi-disciplinary initiative funded by the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation across SLU’s campus.
The group’s work on producing recyclable pens may serve as an important step in creating a more sustainable community. Office waste is a major contributor to environmental waste and one that’s rarely considered when people talk about recycling and waste prevention.
Though the concept is only in its developmental stages, Mitrovich entered her pen concept in the ‘Real’ Elevator Pitch Competition, an event hosted by SLU’s Center for Entrepreneurship.
Her submission was selected for the next round, and in the next few weeks she will participate in the final round of the contest.
“I get to go downtown to the tallest building in St. Louis…and I have 30 seconds to pitch [the idea to 12 judges],” she said. If judges like a contestant’s idea the contestant receives one of their business cards and whoever has the most cards at the end of the event wins. The first place prize is $2,500.
Mitrovich is a Chicago-area native, born and raised in Oak Park. She said one of the things she appreciates the most about the city is how easy it is to travel from one area to the next, as she likes to stay on the move. However, while she loves her hometown, Mitrovich’s favorite city is London.
“London is the most walkable city I’ve ever been to in my life,” she said. “You can get anywhere you want to go.”
Though she isn’t sure of exactly what she will do when she graduates, Mitrovich wants to do her part to help people.