Introducing Caralyn Coultas-McKinney, Macey Scholar

Introducing Caralyn Coultas-McKinney, Macey Scholar

Colorado Native Has Impressed Faculty, Staff, And Peers

This is the first of four profiles of the 2016-17 Macey Scholars. This award is named for 1942 Tech graduate Bill Macey, who created the scholarship fund in the 1990s. The other three winners are Andrew Gabrysiak, Anthony Milana, and Danielle Richards. 

SOCORRO, N.M. – Caralyn Coultas-McKenney always knew she wanted to be an engineer. As a high school student in Colorado, she learned about New Mexico Tech and quickly found her place on campus.


Caralyn Coultas-McKinney, 2016-17 Macey Scholar


She has been involved in extracurricular activities since her freshman year, has maintained a 3.98 GPA and is on track to graduate in four years.

Mechanical engineering professor Dr. Tie Wei enlisted Caralyn’s help in a white-sheet exercise to provide feedback on lectures.

“Throughout the entire semester, she provided effective feedback for each lecture,” he wrote. “I am very impressed by her commitment and dedication … I have noticed other students look up to her as a role model. Caralyn has been a catalyst in making my class a good learning environment.”

Coultas-McKinney has been involved in a variety of research projects on campus. First, she volunteered in the Shock and Dynamics Lab in the Mechanical Engineering Department. Soon after, she was a research assistant on a project to test how batteries fail under different circumstances.

During the summer of 2015, Coultas-McKinney worked as a facilities engineering intern for Chevron at the Carter Creek Gas Plant in Evanston, Wyo. Not only did she work as the project leader on a lab improvement project, she made connections with fellow Tech alumni in the Chevron network.

“A lot of the plant design processing I learned through Chevron has allowed for me to have greater understanding  of my chemical engineering courses,” she wrote.

She was offered a second internship with Chevron, but declined the offer to stay on campus this summer, working on a Department of Homeland Security project. She is conducting experiments to measure the efficiency of swipe materials to detect trace explosives.

Her research advisor Dr. Michael Hargather write, “She has again approached a broad project with enthusiasm to learn a new topic and to perform outstanding research … Her excitement for the project and aptitude as a future researcher is unmatched. Overall, Caralyn is an exemplary student and an outstanding candidate to be a Macey Scholar.”

Coultas-McKinney has also worked at the Office of Counseling and Disabilities Services for two years. She developed and fixed the database information program by applying the computer skills and applications that she learned in ES 111.

Janet Ward, director of the OCDS, wrote that Caralyn “built a MATLAB code that simulated the database, which she then used to troubleshoot the original version. The information gathered from the database was instrumental in providing statistics used to show the need for another mental health counselor for the department … I believe Caralyn is an excellent example of an outstanding New Mexico Tech student.”

Coultas-McKinney has an extensive list of activities with campus clubs. Through her involvement with the Society of Women Engineers, she has volunteered for the N.M. Science Olympiad. During her sophomore year, she ran the bottle rocket event. “Each year, I am amazed to watch the kids rise to the engineering challenges set for their bottle rockets,” she said.

She is also involved with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship since she arrived at Tech, including serving as president this year. Under her leadership, the group’s attendance has ballooned from 20 to 50 members per meeting.

Dr. Tie Wei said, “Caralyn is very pleasant to be around, and she is always willing to help others. It is absolutely a privilege on my part to share a leg of the journey with Caralyn. I am looking forward to seeing the dent Caralyn will put to the universe that we will all be proud of.”

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