Daniela Molina

Daniela Molina exemplifies the kind of experience you can have as a Lehigh engineer.

Molina, a soccer sensation who played in the 2007 World Cup for her home country of Colombia, is also one of Lehigh’s top mechanical engineering students. She earns regular accolades on the Dean’s List and the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll.

In one mechanical engineering class, Molina was part of a team of students that helped Ford Motor Co. improve the consistency of the mold thickness in the bumpers of its vehicles. Team members traveled to France to use state-of-the-art testing facilities to develop a heating plan that yields a more consistent thickness in the bumper, which is made of a type of polyethylene.

In Lehigh’s Integrated Product Development (IPD) program, Molina worked with four other students to help General Motors produce a car with power-swinging side doors that can be opened remotely. Only two cars in the world--a Rolls-Royce and a Mercedes-Benz--are currently equipped with these doors.

“The goal in our project was to develop a power-swinging door that can be put on a vehicle that is less expensive than the Rolls-Royce or Mercedes,” says Molina. “It will be great for older people as well as for soccer moms with lots of kids, but there are challenges we had to overcome. The motor has to be able to open and close the doors, and also keep the doors open on an incline.”

Molina competed for the Colombian national women’s soccer team in the qualifying rounds for the 2007 World Cup.

Soccer is the other half of Molina’s life, and Lehigh has encouraged her to pursue it. As a forward for Lehigh’s soccer team, she led the team with six goals and 15 points in 2006 and was named to the All-Patriot League first team. She was also named by ESPN the Magazine to its Academic All-District II second team.

“Soccer has always been a passion for me,” says Molina, a senior from Cali, Colombia, who started playing the game when she was 5 years old. Last November, she flew to South America to compete for the Colombian national women’s soccer team in the qualifying rounds for the 2007 World Cup.

“It was an awesome experience,” she says, “to put my country’s jersey on and go out and play.”

After she graduates, Molina’s options are as wide open as the doors she helped design for GM. She may once again play for the Colombian national team, and plans to pursue a career in the design and construction of sports stadiums.

“I love hands-on projects, and I love working in the shop.”