College of Engineering & Mines

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UND mechanical engineering student receives VEX Mentor of the Year Award

Three people pose for photo on stage holding a trophy
Thea’s dedication to mentorship was honored at the VEX IQ Minnesota State Championship Tournament on March 4th in St. Cloud, MN. Photo courtesy of Andrew Dahlen.

Thea Haaven-Farstad, a UND mechanical engineering student, was honored with the Mentor of the Year Award at the VEX IQ Minnesota State Championship Tournament.

While a VEX Robotics team is new to UND campus, Thea is no stranger to the competition series. She’s been involved with middle and high school teams for a long time — and still is. While she competes at the collegiate-level on UND’s VEX-U team, she and her teammates help mentor middle and high school teams in the community.

“I can’t tell you how many kids she’s worked with that gain a powerful passion for robotics… those students become just like Thea,” says Andrew Dahlen, lecturer of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

“I’m not sure if its her experience in VEX, her time around middle schoolers, or a superhuman strength not yet explained by science, but Thea has a way of explaining concepts that is as rare as it is effective. She can generate interest in robotics incredibly easily.”

Thea’s dedication to robotics goes beyond the robotics competition; between her commitments to VEX Robotics, she is the President of the E-Council (Dean’s Engineering Council) and Treasurer of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). In her studies, her favorite class is ME201, a hands-on course where students design and build their own robots.

“There is nothing I like to see more than a positive feedback loop, and Thea is creating just that. Our world would be better off with as many Thea’s as possible.”


Written by Paige Prekker  //  UND College of Engineering & Mines