Published: April 27, 2016
Mackenzie Belden

Thinking like a true engineer, graduating senior Mackenzie Belden spotted a problem, then jumped in to fix it. 

The problem that attracted her attention is all the medical equipment that gets shipped to developing nations, but then ends up not being used because it breaks or people don't know how to use it properly.

"It's a real problem," said Belden, who is graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering and one of two recipients of the 2016 College of Engineering and Applied Science Outstanding Graduate for Service award. "We can send equipment there, but they need to have people who can fix it when it breaks."

Belden's solution? As a member and now president of the Biomedical Engineering Society, she founded the CU affiliate of Project C.U.R.E. (Commission on Urgent Relief and Equipment), a program that allows students to use their engineering skills to test and fix donated medical equipment for use in developing countries. Belden also formed a partnership with Engineering World Health (EWH), which trains biomedical technicians to repair medical equipment, also in developing countries.

Belden didn't stop there. She also sees a need to boost the engineering pipeline in Colorado to ensure young people remain engaged in solving the world's pressing problems. To this end, she's worked with EWH's initiatives in Front Range high schools, and designed, wrote and coordinated two workshops for students.

Upon graduation, Belden said she hopes to stay on a service track. 

"What I’d ultimately like to do is go into nonprofit work with biomedical devices," she said.

Virginia Ferguson, associate professor of mechanical engineering and one of many faculty and staff who write glowing letters in support of Belden winning the service award, was impressed by Belden's single-minded focus.

“Every major professional endeavor she has taken on so far has a clear element of service that has a meaningful impact on others – both locally and globally,” Ferguson wrote.