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First-Year Student Stories

GS Alumni Spotlight: Juliet Simpson

June 28, 2023 - Juliet Simpson, mechanical engineer. (Photo by Werner Slocum / NREL)

Juliet Simpson, Class of 2018, joins us for a Goodnight Alumni spotlight! Read more to learn about her experience at NC State, post-graduate pursuits, and her day-today life now as a Research Engineer.

Tell us about yourself!

I am a Goodnight Scholar Alumni, class of 2018. I studied Mechanical Engineering at NC State, though I spent most of my nights and weekends at the rock climbing wall. I went on to graduate school at the University of Virginia where I got my PhD in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. Now I live in Colorado and work at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory doing research on geothermal energy. I really enjoy my work, but I also still enjoy spending time in the mountains here, climbing and mountain biking and running.

What is your current career?

I am a Research Engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO. I have always been fascinated by energy and heat and I really wanted to find a way to apply that to make a difference in the renewable energy field. I wanted to have an impact on the transition to a greener future. My path towards that end took me to graduate school, where my research focused on modeling wind turbines and long-duration energy storage. After school, I wanted to stay in the renewable energy field, but I wanted to try out a new research focus. Now, I research geothermal systems, both for  power generation and for district heating and cooling. I love that I get to solve new problems every day and hang out on the “what if?” side of engineering. And with a new focus on decarbonizing heating and cooling systems, I appreciate that it is easier to see the impact of my work on communities trying to reduce carbon emissions.

What is your favorite Goodnight memory?

I think the fall break trip I took to Boston with Goodnights was one of the most memorable experiences for me. I loved getting to know Goodnights across a range of ages and majors and forming a tight community bond over a few days on the trip. I also loved the mix of spending time talking to researchers (which would eventually become my career path!) and spending our nights exploring Boston’s culture and history!

How did the Goodnight Scholars Program shape your time at NC State and beyond?

The Goodnight Scholars Program opened so many doors that I would not have otherwise had a chance for in undergrad. I attended musicals and listened to seminars, I learned to write a resume and create a LinkedIn, I learned to just be confident and bet on myself. I think the support of the Goodnight Scholars Program really helped me grow into my best self throughout undergrad and reach my goals. 

What is your life like now compared to when you attended NC State?

My day to day life looks pretty different now, but there are still some through-lines. I work a more traditional 9-5 kind of job and don’t have the wild and flexible schedule of undergrad. And I know I’m getting old when I just got really excited to buy myself nice bed sheets. But I still spend a lot of time outside being active, like I did at State. And I spend a surprising amount of time still cracking open old textbooks for my work! While I don’t have as much flexibility or freetime as I did while at NC State, I try to still keep up some of the same lessons I learned there of balancing work time with friend time and keeping a strong community!