Young Alumna of the Year | Sandra Mejia Gerbacio, DSHA ‘13
Application Supervisor + Engineer at Regal Rexnord – Industrial Power Solutions & Mechanical Mentor of the DSHA & MUHS Robotics Team.
Sandra Mejia Gerbacio, DSHA ’13, grew up wanting to be a mathematics teacher. It was not until high school where she joined the FIRST Team 1732 Hilltopper Robotics, composed of both DSHA and MUHS students, that she realized she wanted to be an engineer.
The Robotics team is made up of several sub-teams including electrical, programming, design, communications, and others. Mejia Gerbacio joined the mechanical team her junior year and was responsible for making the frame of the robot. It was her first exposure to any type of engineering and it quickly became an important part of her high school experience that led the way to her current career.
Upon graduation, Mejia Gerbacio attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). In her sophomore year, she became a Rockwell Automation scholar, a student whose prerequisite required involvement with STEM courses or robotics and completing a STEM-related summer internship. With this half-tuition scholarship for two years, she obtained her BS in mechanical engineering in 2017. A predominantly male campus, Mejia Gerbacio credits, in part, the confidence she gained at DSHA to her comfortability in school.
“Going from an all-girls environment to a male dominated space was an adjustment but DSHA taught me I could do it. Being vocal during those difficult math and science classes, asking questions, and feeling support from my female classmates empowered me. I brought that confidence to MSOE with me, and I don’t know if I would’ve had that confidence had I gone elsewhere.”
Upon graduating, Mejia Gerbacio started at Regal Rexnord as an Application Engineer in 2017. This past year, she was promoted to the Application Supervisor role. She now has a small team reporting to her and works closely with clients to ensure Rexnord’s coupling products are meeting their specific needs. The coupling products range from gear and grid to jaw, elastomer, disc, and composite joints. Her team is responsible for crafting a coupling solution when problems arise. Often, Mejia Gerbacio herself travels to customers and organizations throughout the US to troubleshoot, train, and teach them to use the coupling products most efficiently.
Outside of her professional career, Mejia Gerbacio volunteers her time to the DSHA/MUHS Robotics Team as the mechanical mentor, something she has done for over six years. During the building season, which runs from January – April, the group meets several times a week and throughout the weekend. Mejia Gerbacio is inspired by the girls and motivated by their passion to understand robotics and engineering. She shared, “I want to be cheering them on and a role model that they can see themselves in.”
This year, the Robotics team won two regional competitions and competed in the FIRST® World Competition where they finished within the top 5% of robotics teams in the world. Mejia Gerbacio also received the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award that is presented to one adult mentor at each Regional Competition and recognizes those who lead, inspire, and effectively communicate in the art and science of engineering design.
In her spare time, Mejia Gerbacio recently picked up running and enjoys reading as well as spending time with her friends and family.