Engineering student helps others with ‘a steady hand’

Senior engineering fundamentals major Nichole Humbrecht tutored students and helped organize HootaThon.

Nichole Humbrecht, a senior engineering fundamentals major, served as the senior director of operations for HootaThon this year. | VIA FACEBOOK

While growing up, Nichole Humbrecht’s father, who is a mechanic, taught her how to use household equipment and electronics, like a lawn mower.

He soon began helping her build her school projects. When she was in the fourth grade, Humbrecht and her father created a lunch box that had an alarm in it, in case someone tried to steal her lunch.

Looking back, Humbrecht realizes the process of making that lunch box was a lot like the engineering work she does today.

“I was doing a lot of those things that people do who tend to head into engineering professionally,” Humbrecht said. “If you like to learn about how things work, you spend a lot of time doing that, whether you know it or not.”

Humbrecht, a senior engineering fundamentals major, will move to Washington, D.C., for a job after graduation. Due to the nature of the position, Humbrecht cannot disclose where she will be working.

During her time at Temple, Humbrecht was heavily involved in HootaThon, an annual 12-hour dance marathon that raises money for the Child Life Services department of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Soon after coming to Temple, she became a part of the organization. She had been involved in planning two successful Mini-THONs, which are high school dance marathons organized by Penn State University, at her high school in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.

“I…loved it, had a great time, found where I want to be, my niche,” Humbrecht said. “I was like, ‘This this is where I want to go.’”

Humbrecht joined HootaThon’s finance committee her sophomore year, helping with fundraising. The following year, she became the director of dance marathon operations, for which she planned the 12-hour event with more than 1,000 participants.

She was this year’s senior director of operations. Humbrecht was in charge of logistics and overseeing other directors. She is most proud of moving the dance marathon to the spring semester, instead of having it during the fall like it has been in past years. It was also during her time with the student organization that the dance marathon’s venue moved from Mitten Hall to the Liacouras Center.

“It’s been super fun,” Humbrecht said. “It’s definitely a reason why I think I’ve gotten the jobs, the co-ops I’ve gotten, is because I’ve developed so many skills through [HootaThon] and had to intervene in so many weird professional situations you don’t hit while you’re in college.”

She added that she wants to change the perception that engineers aren’t personable.

“I think engineers typically get a rap that like…we’re not good public speakers or communicators, but if you’re making sure you’ve engaged in those things, there’s no reason you couldn’t be good at those things,” she said.

Apart from HootaThon, Humbrecht was involved in other activities on and off campus. She tutored student-athletes at the university’s Resnick Academic Support Center in math, chemistry, physics and sometimes engineering.

She said it was rewarding to watch the students she tutored start to understand the coursework.

“It’s fun to watch someone who doesn’t understand a whole lot, and then they get to a certain level they’re like, ‘Holy cow, I know all of this now,’” she said. “It’s fun to see that progression with a person.”

She left the center last year after she started a co-op at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in its Office of Safety and Medical Operations, which was a more professional workspace relating to her major and took more of her time.

Humbrecht completed an internship at Abington Hospital — Jefferson Health the summer after her freshman year, working on patient variances in length of stay using a concept called Lean Six Sigma, an improvement methodology in engineering. She said this is a concept that many students don’t learn about until later in their careers or during MBA programs.

By the end of this semester, Humbrecht will be certified as a Six Sigma Green Belt, a form of certification for doctors and engineers who have been working professionally with Lean Six Sigma for a minimum of three years. MaryAnn Thackrah, a senior psychology major, has known Humbrecht since their freshman year, and they have worked together on HootaThon since sophomore year.

“Nichole is like the mom of most people’s friend groups that she encounters,” Thackrah said. “I think she’s the epitome of a steady hand.”

“She’s definitely passionate about the cause and 100 percent dedicated,” Thackrah added. “She always says she had a very nice and very privileged childhood, and to be able to give back is such a privilege in and of itself.”

Humbrecht said she’s always been a jack of all trades, getting involved in many different things at once and trying to excel at all of them.

“Getting that involved is one of the best ways to find so many communities within Temple, you know, get to know people and get to build a wide diverse friend group,” Humbrecht said.

1 Comment

  1. Congratulations Nichole. Your family and many friends admire all that you have done and are excited about how bright your future will be.
    Best wishes for continued success,
    Jim Brady

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