Featured Alumna: Krystyna Miles '12

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Krystyna Miles ’12 and her Tray Bien business partner at the Dartmouth Ventures Entrepreneurship Contest. Courtesy of Krystyna Miles ’12.

Convent of the Sacred Heart alumna, Krystyna Miles ‘12, is an engineer and an entrepreneur. She is majoring in Engineering Sciences at Dartmouth College, and is part of Dartmouth’s Women in Science peer mentorship program, where she mentors freshman women who are interested in pursuing STEM-related fields. Krystyna is also involved in Dartmouth’s co-ed club tennis team, and the Dartmouth Beekeeping Association.
Krystyna first discovered her love for math and science at Sacred Heart. In the Upper School Science Research course, Krystyna completed a project about the water quality of the Saugatuck River watershed. She also credits Upper School science teachers Ms. Mary Musolino and Dr. Kristina Gremski, and Upper school math teachers Mr. Joel Padilla and Mr. Robert Cushman, for influencing her study in college.
“I remember Ms. Musolino helping me seek out cool summer programs to complement my interest in environmental and energy research,” Krystyna said. “In conjunction with my science research project at Sacred Heart, the summers I spent making biodiesel from waste vegetable oil in a chemical engineering lab and participating in a camp focused on the frontiers of energy resources ignited a spark in me to pursue engineering in college.”
Krystyna chose to apply Early Decision to Dartmouth because of the school’s focus on experiential learning, exposure to all types of engineering disciplines, and enthusiasm for balancing technical coursework with liberal arts classes. Now that she attends Dartmouth, she enjoys its scenic location on the Upper Connecticut River Valley.

Krystyna Miles '12 and her fellow Big Green Bus crew members in front of Baker Tower at Dartmouth.
Krystyna Miles ’12 and her fellow Big Green Bus crew members in front of Baker Tower at Dartmouth. Courtesy of Krystyna Miles ’12.

After her freshman year, Krystyna participated in a 72 day road trip around the United States with 12 other Dartmouth students. As part of The Big Green Bus Dartmouth non-profit organization, the students travelled in a retrofitted, biodiesel-powered ex-Greyhound bus, and listened to stories of environmental justice issues from different communities. They raised funds to support the project while on the road, and created a documentary highlighting the inspirational people they met along the way.
“On the Big Green Bus, we were able to park our giant bus right on the edge of the Grand Canyon in a very remote part of the park. It was unreal to have the opportunity to camp on the edge of the canyon and a well-deserved reprieve for us, as it was one of our only breaks to just relax from our event-intensive schedule,” Krystyna said.
In her sophomore and junior years, Krystyna also completed independent scientific research. She conducted an independent research project that helped decode climate records in polar ice cores in order to make historic climate records more accurate. As ice cores are natural artifacts of past atmospheric conditions, ice core research allows climate scientists to better understand past climate patterns in order to project what might happen in the future.
In the winter of her junior year, Krystyna participated in Dartmouth’s Astrophysics Foreign Study Program in Cape Town, South Africa. As a culminating experience for the program, the group spent a week at the South African Large Telescope, the largest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, to observe the sky and track the stars.
Krystyna Miles '12 exploring the summit of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. Courtesy of Krystyna Miles '12.
Krystyna Miles ’12 exploring the summit of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. Courtesy of Krystyna Miles ’12.

“In South Africa, we hiked one of the peaks in Cape Town called Lion’s Head the day after we arrived. The view from the top was absolutely breathtaking with the mountains behind us, the city below us, and the vast ocean in front of us. The feeling was surreal and one I will never forget,” Krystyna said.
Ultimately, Krystyna’s entrepreneurial ventures set her apart from the crowd. In her Introduction to Engineering course, Krystyna and her team sought to find a solution to an everyday mobility or portability issue. Her team invented a patented ergonomic beverage serving tray and named the device Tray Bien.
“Our team was out to dinner getting to know each other–as we were randomly assigned to be teammates–and asked our waitress if she experienced any restaurant-related mobility issues on a daily basis. She told us about how she and many of her coworkers have had to undergo carpal tunnel surgery due to the extreme wrist position required to carry the unwieldy standard serving tray,” Krystyna said. “We knew there had to be a better way.”
Krystyna Miles '12 and her Tray Bien business partner at the Dartmouth Ventures Entrepreneurship Contest. Courtesy of Krystyna Miles '12.
Krystyna Miles ’12 and her Tray Bien business partner at the Dartmouth Ventures Entrepreneurship Contest. Courtesy of Krystyna Miles ’12.

Tray Bien allows wine glasses to sink down into holes in the center of the tray, which lowers the center of gravity of the drinks and locks them into place. After her introductory course, Krystyna and her team partnered with manufacturers in Wisconsin and Ohio to create the wood and plastic trays. Her team also purchased booths at several foodservice trade shows in order to sell their product in person, and to obtain critical feedback on the product.
Tray Bien received the First Place prize and People’s Choice Award at the annual Dartmouth Ventures Entrepreneurship Contest, which granted the team $29,000 in seed capital for Tray Bien, LLC. In this business plan competition, Krystyna’s team won over 100 other Dartmouth-affiliated teams that included alumni, Masters of Business Administration students, faculty, and undergraduates. They also received the Phillip R. Jackson Engineering Sciences Prize which is awarded in recognition of outstanding performance in Introduction to Engineering for creativity, attention to detail, quality engineering, and excellent team work.
“Taking a product to market–from penciled sketches, to manufactured prototypes, and then into users’ hands–is an incredible learning opportunity and an exciting challenge,” Krystyna said. “Every step of the way was entirely new to us and we were fortunate enough to seek out mentors in the Dartmouth community who provided guidance. It is definitely rewarding to see my patent hanging on my bedroom wall.”
Krystyna recently sold her equity in the company, and is no longer actively involved in operations. After graduation, she will be moving to Seattle, Washington to work for a boutique strategy consulting firm.
“If a student is interested in engineering, she should seek out summer engineering programs to see what projects or areas of research capture her interest. Because few high schools offer coursework specifically in engineering, summer programs are so useful to get a feel for real-life engineering work. It has been so empowering to study engineering as a woman, and Dartmouth is unique in that 51 percent of its Engineering Science majors are female,” Krystyna said. “If she is interested in entrepreneurship, she should watch Shark Tank or peruse kickstarter.com as inspiration and also practice thinking about how products or systems in her life can be improved; she might just identify the next great idea.” 
– Arielle Kirven, Co-Arts and Entertainment Editor