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Rachel Bonek: Driven by Dual-DegrEE

Written by: Leslie Lestinsky

Rachel Graduation
Rachel at Saint Mary's Graduation
Rachel Bonek is a senior Department of Electrical Engineering (NDEE) student that represents an exclusive sector of NDEE majors, those earning a dual-degree. Rachel received her bachelor's degree in physics and applied mathematics from neighboring Saint Mary’s College. She then went on to study one more year here at the University of Notre Dame and this May, will also receive a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from NDEE.

“The close-knit community at Saint Mary's, coupled with the research opportunities of Notre Dame are a true blessing,” said Rachel. “It’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity.”



Rachel Bonek IC Fab
In IC Fab (Rachel far left)

Her favorite NDEE class was the Integrated Circuit Fabrication (IC Fab) course, taught by NDEE Professor Greg Snider. In this course, students are introduced to photolithography, impurity deposition and redistribution, metal deposition and definition, and other nano-scale fabrication fundamentals. Students get an unmatched opportunity to work in a state-of-the-art, high-level, nano-scale fabrication laboratory and engineer their own 5000 transistor CMOS LSI circuit.

“Not everyone gets to do that kind of thing,” said Rachel. “It was a Goldilocks scenario.” Rachel was able to work in a well-established lab that wasn't so big she got lost or didn't understand it, but not so small that it didn’t offer much.

“I had hands-on experience from world-class professors and staff in that class and am now able to take that real-world IC Fab experience into my job search and point employers to it,” said Rachel

The IC Fab course inspired Rachel to dig more into research and fabrication work at the nano-scale. She got involved in undergraduate research with NDEE Professors Snider and Alexei Orlov, as well as NDEE graduate student Thomas Zirkle.

“I helped in the IC Fab lab to analyze measurements,” said Rachel. “I took data we generated and plotted it in different ways to gauge how it changes over time.”

That work lead to co-writing and submitting a paper that was recently published in the Journal of Low Temperature Physics. Professor Snider was impressed with her work and dedication.

“Rachel has been involved in undergraduate research with our group for two years now,” said Professor Snider. “By staying with the group for a significant time she has really grasped how the experiments work. She’s a valuable member of our research team.”

Rachel also took advantage of internships and summer jobs, as well as studied abroad in Greece and served on the Engineering College Council. Her resume already boasts project management in information technology and integrated circuit fabrication at the nano-scale, but she can also add to it circuit board building. While working for Dwyer Instruments, she built and tested circuit boards to be used for sensory integration testing of pressure sensors.

Rachel Bonek Volleyball
Rachel on the Volleyball team.



Not only is she passionate about her academics, but that drive also pushes her in athletics as well. Rachel plays right side opposite in volleyball.

“I’m a hitter,” Rachel said with a laugh.

You can find her attending just about every ND sporting event to cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame. Everything from football games to diving matches, she’s there.

Like most engineering students, Rachel discovered a love for mathematics early on in life and followed that passion hich led her to this point. She looks up to women in the field such as Ada Lovelace, the 17th century mathematician who is credited for writing instructions for the first computer program.

“Lovelace set the stage for much of the computer technology we have today. She had the foresight, technology had to catch up with her,” said Rachel.

Rachel is doing a fine job following the drive and passion of her engineering idols. After graduation she will be heading off to Laurel, Maryland to work at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, in their Discovery Program.