Cockrell School of Engineering alumna Columbia Mishra has been named the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Foundation’s inaugural Lakshmi Singh Early Career Leadership Award winner. The award, named for a 31-year-old ASME leader who died unexpectedly in 2015, honors a young female engineer who distinguishes herself as a rising volunteer leader within ASME.

Mishra, born and raised in India, is named after the space shuttle, Columbia – a nod to her parents’ enthusiasm toward space exploration. Although the Columbia tragically suffered a fatal accident in 2003 during its re-entry from space, Mishra always had a natural passion for her namesake and was fascinated by aerospace engineering growing up. She attended Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India, where she ultimately decided to pursue mechanical engineering, her second passion, since the university did not offer an undergraduate aerospace engineering program.

“I thought mechanical engineering was never a choice for me because it’s a degree not often pursued by a lot of women,” Mishra said in a previous ASME video, of being in an often male-dominated STEM field.

But despite the challenges she faced, Mishra went on to earn her master’s degree from Texas Tech University in mechanical engineering in 2008 and her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 2016. She now works as a senior thermal engineer at Intel Corporation.

As an active member and volunteer with ASME, Mishra received an ASME Foundation scholarship while in graduate school in addition to an ASME grant that allowed her to participate in Engineers Without Borders, where she had the opportunity to help a small community in Mexico. Outside of ASME, she is a strong advocate for women in STEM, serving as a mentor and inspiration to girls interested in pursuing careers in mechanical engineering.

The ASME Foundation is dedicated to supporting young engineers throughout every stage of their engineering journey. They held their annual Philanthropic Impact event, dedicated to celebrating the creation of their transformative philanthropic educational initiatives, virtually on Nov. 10, where Mishra was presented with the inaugural award.

“We are so proud to present this award to Dr. Columbia Mishra,” said Kathleen Lobb, executive director of the ASME Foundation and managing director of ASME philanthropy. “She is not only a brilliant engineer but also a steadfast ASME volunteer and standout intern in ASME’s Eclipse leadership development program.”