Maddie Weaver ’24, Mechanical Engineering major, wins 2023 PSAAA
The Provost Student Academic Achievement Award is given to students who both excel in coursework and provide a positive impact on the university.
Maddie Weaver ’24, Mechanical Engineering major, wins 2023 PSAAA
Maddie Weaver is a 2023 recipient of a Provost Student Academic Achievement Award (PSAAA). The PSAAA is an award for students who have maintained high GPAs, excel in their coursework, and who have also had a positive impact on the university. Maddie is a D1 athlete (synchronized skating), part of the Human-Centered Design Research Lab, Engineers Without Borders, and the MUCAT design innovation competition. Below, she shares her feelings on winning the PSAAA, her experience at Miami, and what memories she’ll take with her when she graduates.
How does it feel to receive the PSAAA award?
I feel incredibly honored to be selected for the PSAAA alongside so many other accomplished students. I had the chance to attend the award reception dinner where I was able to meet the other recipients and hear about their work. The passion, dedication, and future goals of all the awardees were incredibly inspiring. I am excited for what everyone will do in the future.
"Miami is one of two universities that have synchronized skating through
the university," says Maddie. "I love that now I get to do school and skating
in one place, and all of my professors understand what I do. There's a lot of
There's a lot of support here for our sport, and it is really special
to be able to share my love of skating with everyone here."
What made you choose Miami University for college?
I knew I wanted to go into engineering. I was still deciding whether or not I wanted to continue skating in college, and there are not a lot of places in the United States where you can do both. I was drawn to the engineering department here at Miami because it is a smaller department compared to a lot of schools. One of the reasons that was intriguing for me was because of the contact you have with professors due to the smaller class sizes. I have always been able to talk to professors–they're very open and willing to discuss questions about class and questions about after college. So that was one side of it. And then skating was also a huge part of it. Miami is one of two universities that have synchronized skating through the university. For my entire life growing up, academics and skating were always very separate. No one else at my high school was involved in synchronized skating, and I skated for a club organization where my teammates came from all over the Chicago area. Now I can walk to the rink and my neighbors are my teammates. I love that now I get to do school and skating in one place, and all of my professors understand what I do. There's a lot of support here for our sport, and it is really special to be able to share my love of skating with everyone here.
What has been your biggest struggle considering your academics and your athletics?
The biggest struggle is just trying to find a balance. There's a lot going on all the time and trying to keep my goals in perspective can get challenging. When things do get super busy, for example, you're competing, traveling internationally, waking up at 6am every weekday, going to practice twice a day, and in class every day…that's been the biggest challenge. And then balancing that all with research, club activities, and work can be difficult. Finding a sense of balance is challenging at times, but it is also super rewarding.
What life skills and values have you gained from being a part of the team?
The biggest things I have gained have been empathy and communication skills. Since elementary school, I have been on a new team of around 20 people every year. And that's been a huge learning opportunity for me: just being able to understand different points of view every season. You're all working towards the same goal, so even if little things come up, staying unified behind that common team goal is something really powerful as it's something that everyone can get behind.
What do you have planned for after graduation?
I'm planning to graduate in May with my undergraduate degree, and then I'll actually be back at Miami next year. I just joined the 4+1 program, as my research professor, Dr. She, was awarded funding through the National Science Foundation for her research. So I'll be back, doing my thesis and getting my master's in mechanical engineering.
How has your experience been with Dr. She at the Human-Centered Research Lab?
It has been awesome. I met Dr. She sophomore year. We were just coming out of COVID times, and I was in her modeling and design class. I've long had an interest in design, and I really enjoyed her class. I was very lucky that she was looking for new lab members, and the semester after I was able to join her lab. I can’t say enough great things about her. She's been such an advocate and supporter of mine for almost two years at this point, and I'm super grateful for everything that she has done for me.
What is your role at the Human-Centered Research Lab?
I am working on understanding team diversity, equity, and inclusion in engineering design. One of the goals of this research is to build strategies that promote DEI in engineering design teams.
Have you worked on anything prior to Miami or here at Miami that you want to continue in your future?
On the research side of things, I'd love to go into research and design. In my future career, I'm interested in going to the medical device industry. So that's also one of the reasons the MUCAT competition really appealed to me since it focused on assistive technology. Those are all avenues that I can see myself continuing down in the future.
Would you say that your experience in synchronized skating has given you a better intuition for properties of physics: Conservation of angular momentum, torque, etc.?
One thing that I’ve especially enjoyed as I have gotten older is being able to see some concepts applied on the ice. Occasionally, I’ll have something come to mind that I can relate back to my engineering knowledge, and it is nice being able to make the connection to something you are studying in class. One common skating move professors reference in order to demonstrate conservation of angular momentum is the spinning example: the larger your radius with your arms stretched out, the slower you're going to spin while you then spin faster if you move your arms in.
Have there been any memories that you've made at Miami that really stick out?
I think one of my favorite memories so far has been coming back to campus for this semester. I started here at Miami during COVID in fall of 2020 which was a difficult transition because we were online and we moved in late. Coming back this semester has been a special time for me because I've really come to appreciate the community that I have: classmates, teammates, professors. And I can see how much I've personally grown. It has been great getting back to classes, seeing all my friends, skating, and being in Oxford.