Danielle Belsito

Home: Millis, Massachusetts
Degree: PhD candidate, Materials Science & Engineering

Why I chose WPI:

I chose WPI because of its reputation as an excellent engineering school. I worked full time in Research and Development for a high-performance materials company where I quickly learned that I needed a higher degree in order to further advance in my field. WPI has an excellent reputation in industry, which is what first attracted my attention. After speaking with current students and several alumni, my decision was easy – they were all saying the same thing – WPI prepares students to succeed in the "real world." The alumni all gave the same story – they felt that they were so much more prepared to enter their fields compared with those from other schools.

Also, I took a couple of graduate classes in my major at WPI before applying for graduate school. I wanted to make sure this was an environment that I was looking for. The classes are excellent and the professors are amazing. They’re not just good at teaching the information; they're also very passionate about the material. My professors genuinely want students in their classes not only to understand the material, but also to share their appreciation and enthusiasm for the subject matter.

WPI has made the news numerous times for new and innovative projects throughout the campus.

Why I'm proud to be a WPI student:

WPI has an excellent reputation in my field. Listing it on my resume lets perspective employers instantly know that I am preparing to succeed in their real-world environment.

WPI is known to have excellent teaching and an outstanding research program. I feel proud to go to a school with such an impressive reputation.

What I feel are WPI's greatest strengths:

Every professor I have had at WPI for graduate classes have one thing in common – they are extremely passionate about what they do. They genuinely enjoy teaching the material. Talk to any professor outside of class and you quickly learn that; they get so excited to talk about their latest research, or a journal article they just read. They are real people, with real interests – and that is what they are teaching.

Research projects I’m involved with at WPI:

I am working with Professor Sisson in the Center for Heat Treating Excellence (CHTE). The CHTE consortium is an alliance between the industrial sector and university researchers at WPI to collaboratively address short-term and long-term needs of the heat-treating industry. Students in the CHTE have the opportunity to work on projects directly with companies in the fields in which we are researching. This provides us with hands-on, real-world experience every day.

My current project involves modeling the nitriding process using a finite difference numerical method to predict the nitrogen concentration profile and resulting phases in the metal, allowing the final properties to be predicted. This model is needed not only to specify key process parameters to control nitriding process but also to optimize the process for reducing cycle times and expenses.

How professors at WPI have impacted my life:

I can think of numerous professors in my department I could write about that I have had excellent experiences with. In particular, Professor Shivkumar, Professor Sisson, Professor Makhlouf, and Professor Apelian have all gone above and beyond expectations in every class I have had with them. Each one is always available outside of class – their doors aren’t just open for office hours, they’re always open. They’re always willing to help their students, whether it is with a homework assignment, grasping a difficult concept, or with career advice. Enthusiastic doesn’t begin to describe how these professors feel about their subject matter. Whether it's giving a lecture in class or having a conversation in the hallway with a fellow professor or student, it is evident how passionate they are about their field.

Working with Professor Sisson has been an excellent learning experience for me. He is an expert in his field and is well known and respected by colleagues. He always puts his students first – he genuinely wants us to understand material he's teaching in class. In our research, he encourages us to "see what happens" by trying new things. My research group has been fortunate enough to travel with Professor Sisson to numerous conferences and technical meetings. He generously seeks out these opportunities that allow his students to network with the companies that attend, as well as present our research. These are valuable experiences that show us the value of our research, and allow us to collaborate with other researchers in the same field.

What I hope to do when I graduate/What my ideal job would be:

I would like to return to research and development where I would be a research engineer. I enjoy improving current products and developing new ones.

Extracurricular activities/Associations:

  • Alpha Sigma Mu (Materials Science and Engineering Honor Society)
  • AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers)
  • ASM (Materials Information Society)
  • ACerS (The American Ceramic Society)
  • AIST (Associate for Iron and Steel Technology)
  • TMS (The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society) 

In closing….

I can’t say enough about the professors in my department. In addition to their expertise and passion about materials, they are genuinely great people. You can have a conversation with them about the latest Red Sox game or about the latest discovery in nano-materials.

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