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Sarah Lanci
Lanci loves being at CMU because the students are not only engaged in school, they’re involved in the community. “They’re working outside of school and gaining huge amounts of experience that only enhances what we can teach them in the class,” she said.

Faculty profile: Sarah Lanci

Sarah Lanci never planned on becoming a university professor.

“I feel so lucky,” the assistant professor of mechanical engineering said. “I didn’t come from academia [but] I had always thought teaching would be fun.”

Lanci grew up just south of Jacksonville, Wyo., before getting her bachelor’s in material science from Michigan State University and a master’s in metallurgical engineering at Colorado School of Mines.

“Material science was the first textbook I really liked reading in college,” Lanci said. “It was this perfect blend of a little bit of chemistry and a little bit of math, and it really just struck a chord. It just fit and I loved it.”

After graduate school, Lanci and her husband, Dustin, moved to Portland, Ore., where she worked at a casting facility for almost seven years. The couple relocated to Grand Junction last year with their daughter, Cooper. She taught part-time in Colorado Mesa University’s mechanical engineering department throughout the 2014-15 school year before applying for a full-time position with the university.

Now Lanci feels like she’s found her calling. “What I’ve been able to bring to the table was some industry manufacturing experience, and it fits pretty well with the mechanical engineering degree,” she said. “I get to learn things, and that’s what I love so much about this. I’m teaching engineering economics and ethics, so I’m learning economics more in depth than I ever thought possible.”

Lanci loves being at CMU because the students are not only engaged in school, they’re involved in the community. “They’re working outside of school and gaining huge amounts of experience that only enhances what we can teach them in the class,” she said.

Her research goals include establishing and optimizing processes tailored toward manufacturing.

“This could involve optimizing welding parameters, exploring new surface engineering process, or characterizing material from a difficult to control casting process in order to make changes to improve material properties and process reliability,” said Lanci.

Aside from her passion for engineering, both Lanci and her husband are avid climbers — be it in the outdoors or in the local rock climbing gym. Lanci described climbing as “a break from reality.”

“I love that you get into a rhythm and sometimes the routes flow, and it works every muscle,” she said. “You have to think in the moment about what your next move is going to be.”

Along with climbing, Lanci loves to explore — something that led her to Peru this summer for two weeks. The trip included a three-day trip on the Lares Trek in Sacred Valley, hiking up and over 15,000 feet.

As for her future at CMU, Lanci doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. “I love this,” she said. “I really hope that I get to keep teaching.”
By Allison Ildefonso

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