Rachel Yates: Taking Initiative to the Next Level

August 29, 2014 | LSU Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering

With a love of math and science, Rachel Yates left Metairie, La. to follow the challenging career path of engineering. Following in her father and brother’s footsteps, Rachel enrolled in LSU’s mechanical engineering program, “LSU has a great engineering program at a price that can’t be beat and an education that can’t be surpassed,” said Rachel. 

Being new to Baton Rouge and having the opportunity to make new friends, Rachel found a group of students who enjoyed working and studying together.


“LSU students are some of the most spirited people I have ever met. It was great to become a member of such a great student body. It makes it easier with the support of other students who can help you study for tests and complete homework assignments on time. The friendships you make during these years will last long after graduation.”

The strenuous curriculum didn’t deter Rachel from taking the initiative to pursue her goal. “Engineering may seem like a difficult degree to make it through, but the opportunities that are available to us when we graduate make all the long nights spent studying worth it. The wealth of career choices allows LSU engineers so many paths to follow after graduation.” Rachel said.

During school Rachel participated as a peer mentor for the E^2 camp for three years and the ENG1050 course for two semesters. Rachel’s Senior Capstone Design project, “Walk Again,” focused on constructing a “self-contained, upright and mobile exoskeleton.” A collaborative group of 10 LSU mechanical, electrical and computer engineering students designed an exoskeleton for a quadriplegic - a very sophisticated and extensive project.

“I chose this project because I thought it could really make a difference,” Rachel explained. “That we could lay a foundation for future groups to really take it and run.”

Throughout her college career, Rachel was always working to reach her goals. She interned with Dow Chemical in their polyethylene plant the summer before her senior year. After earning her masters from LSU in mechanical engineering, she currently works at Chevron as a facilities engineer. Her first position at Chevron was a heat exchanger specialist and when asked which courses were most beneficial for her career, she stated, “the fluids and heat transfers classes I took as an undergrad and grad student were very helpful.”

Rachel had the opportunity to work on one of Chevron’s LNG projects.

“The scale of these projects is very impressive. The heat exchangers used in the liquefaction of natural gas are not common in other processes in the oil and gas industry. The flow paths through these exchangers are often very complicated and the exchangers are prone to breaking if not operated properly. I was given the chance to develop a way to make the operation of these exchangers more intuitive for operators and engineers. My work will be deployed in the program used to train operators before the facility starts up and will also be used in the control room computers during operation.” Rachel said.

yates in lab

Now that Rachel is set in her career and proud of the education she earned while at LSU, she feels it necessary to give back, “the opportunities the College of Engineering has provided for my future and career are endless. I want to provide the same for future students. Also, Chevron matches my donations so I can provide twice as much support.”

To read more about the “Walk Again” project, visit https://www.lsu.edu/eng/news/2011/04/20110428-exoskeleton.php


Article by Erica Pater, external relations coordinator, LSU College of Engineering, 225-578-8408, ericap@lsu.edu