Tene honored as one of MechSE's Outstanding Young Alumni


Maddie Yang

Since graduating, alumna Dani Tene (BSME 15) has been working for Microsoft in a variety of jobs varying from operations to manufacturing, to her current role in mechanical design. Tene has been named a 2021 Outstanding Young Alumni, awarded to alumni who graduated in the last decade and embody the departments values in their professional life.

While at U of I, Tene was heavily involved in the MechSE Department. She participated in research with Professor Amy Wagoner Johnson, had internships every summer, helped start the Women in MechSE (WiM) community, and served as part of a student advisory board for the department. One of Tenes projects was starting a MechSE Map where graduating seniors could see where their fellow students were heading after graduation, in order to form a strong alumni community post-graduation.

Working closely with the department helped me to understand organizational structures, which I don't think I would have been exposed to otherwise,” she said. Having so many group projects as a part of our curriculum was helpful for me to be learn to adjust my leadership style, depending on the team.”

Tene was president of ASME her senior year and secured the interview at Microsoft after connecting with a recruiter at an ASME event. She started work as a supply base engineer and then transferred into working with the assembly of designs: how parts should be put together, in what order, and what equipment is needed. She mentioned that Design for Manufacturability (ME 270) was helpful in her preparation for that particular position.

For the last two years shes been working as a design engineer focusing on Microsoft Surface products. She recently designed the magnet system which holds the Surface Duo closed and gives a satisfying click feel. Like all of us, Tene has been working from her home office recently, going into work a handful of times to get the necessary equipment.

I have to use my home work space to try and prototype. I don't have 3D printers or anything at home, so that's been fun. I've been able to be a little bit crafty,” Tene said. She emphasized that Microsoft has been working to provide people with technology that has been increasingly necessary during the pandemic. Microsoft is the leader in market share for how people work, and it’s been really empowering. Every time I see a kid in a learn-from-home scenario with a Surface Go, I feel great about knowing that I am contributing to making their workflow better.”

Tene said her favorite part about U of I was the community and the hands-on approach to engineering that she says benefitted her strongly in industry. The hands-on education that we get at U of I is super valued by industry. I had context for things like what a heat pipe was, because in my ME 320 heat transfer class, my professor held up a laptop and said, This is why you take heat transfer, because in today's world, we are using these principles.’ I've always been really thankful that all of my professors really made a point to show me the real-world application of what we were learning.”

Tene chose to come to U of I from Palo Alto because there was this almost intangible vibe of just a really strong community within the College of Engineering as a whole that I got that I didn't get anywhere else. It was clear that people like to work hard, but they also were friendly, and were interacting with each other.”

Tene still keeps in close contact with many of her friends from U of I and emphasized how many of them ended up going into different fields, but they all have a connection through MechSE . Community at U of I is something I cherish and want to encourage other people to stay in touch with their friends from school, because you never know who's going to end up where.”