There’s no doubt that Sabra Serino, soon to graduate from the Ingram School of Engineering, drew some initial inspiration for her field of study from her mother, who contracted helicopter repairs for the navy and army. Spend any time with Serino, though, and you’ll soon realize she isn’t following in anyone’s footsteps. She is a leader, and her composure and determination, both already highly polished at age 23, demonstrate the strength of her commitment to a future in the steel industry. With the help of role models and mentors she found at Texas State, Serino has created a pathway to a promising career that is unquestionably her own.
She started by creating her own opportunities. During her freshman year, she responded to a student technician job posting for the Department of Engineering Technology. Her enthusiasm landed her the job, and what she saw during her first week on the job got her fired up.
“I helped out with a foundry pour,” says Serino. “There’s something about molten metal being poured into a casting, sparks flying, heat … everything immediately grabbed me, and I knew right then that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
It is more than her own passion that validates that she’s on the right track. Firstly, there is the support of the company that has provided her with practical experience — Commercial Metals Company in Seguin, Texas — where she has excelled as a steelmaking-process engineering intern. Years in advance of graduation, Serino received full-time job offers from employers eager to put her talent to work. Her academic research, funded in part by the Association for Iron and Steel Technology, Commercial Metals Company, and the Texas Chapter of the American Foundry Society, has been published in multiple industry journals with co-author Dr. Laura Bartlett, who has mentored Serino in her role as an undergraduate research assistant in the Department of Engineering Technology since her sophomore year. Recently, Serino took top honors in the Undergraduate Student Project Presentation Contest at the annual Association for Iron and Steel Technology (AIST) Conference, which was held in Cleveland, Ohio, where she was one of only eight students selected from around the world to compete. The feedback on her presentation from industry leaders was as valuable to her as her cash prize, says Serino.
“Getting positive and constructive feedback on what improvements I can make will really help me in the future, because that wasn’t the last time I’ll be on an international platform. I can guarantee you that,” she says.
All of these accolades have come as the result of hard work. In addition to her studies, Serino is also a member of several professional and service organizations, such as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and Texas Graduate S.T.E.M. Ambassadors, and is secretary of the Texas State student chapter of the American Foundry Society. She is also chair of the newly founded student chapter of the Association for Iron and Steel Technology and Material Advantage at Texas State.
Undoubtedly, the energy she has for all these extracurricular activities stems from her enthusiasm. “Once you find something you’re passionate about it, it’s a feeling you can’t shake. I love what I do,” says Serino.