How did you first become interested in engineering?
As a child, I wanted to be an inventor – coming up with new ways to make tasks easier was my favorite. In high school, I realized the most practical way to make that dream happen was through engineering.
Why did you choose UW Civil & Environmental Engineering?
I chose UW CEE because of the extensive amount of post-graduation career paths and my involvement on the Steel Bridge Team. When I joined the club as a sophomore, I had no idea how it would change my academic and professional trajectory. Because of it, I was introduced to this departmental family and knew I belonged.
What did you enjoy most about the program?
CEE was a home to me at UW. I'm so grateful for the relationships I built with my classmates, professors and teachers, and main office team. Upon further reflection, I'm most fond of my time with the Steel Bridge Team. I joined my sophomore year (when the bridge broke at regionals), increased my involvement my junior year (the bridge didn't break at regionals), and helped lead the team my senior year (when we got 2nd place at regionals, and competed at nationals, the first time in 20 years!).
If you were involved in research as a student, what did you work on?
I haven’t been involved with research, but at my work this past summer I was an intern project engineer and got to observe the challenges of commercial buildings. Being out in the field making observations, doing quality control and walking with the inspectors were my favorite!
What other activities on campus were you involved in?
The Steel Bridge Team – we built a model bridge out of, you guessed it, steel. It was about 20 feet long and took a load of 2,500 pounds. Each spring we competed at the regional competition with other nearby universities. Joining Steel Bridge allowed me to thrive in hands-on skill development, practice leadership in peer-coached manufacturing, and encouraged me to contribute my skills and passions to improve the team. In the 2016 season, I was the first woman in UW's history to be a member of the Build Team (those who race to assemble the bridge at competition).
Where are you now working?
I'm an engineer with Atkinson Construction on the I-405 / SR 167 Direct Connector, a WSDOT design-build project. Being a brand-new engineer has many challenges, but also times of triumph! A glimpse of what a morning looks like: Arrive to work before the 6:30am daily schedule meeting which I run, head to my desk to read through emails, answer my phone before I get through the emails, get pulled to the project site to take some field measurements and layout (still have to reply to those emails!), check in with my superintendent and construction manager about what I observed in the field, head back to the office to record delivery tickets and maybe write an RFI, then sit down to lunch with office coworkers! Throughout the week I have several Atkinson and subcontractor schedule meetings, LOTS of phone calls, and many laughs with the team. As an engineer I contribute to the project by doing take-offs to understand the needed quantities of materials, making work plans, and sometimes meeting subcontractors out in the field to help them understand their scope and schedule.
How did your UW CEE degree prepare you for your career?
What helps me most from my CEE degree isn't a specific class or stack of acronyms, but rather the tenacity needed to get through a difficult challenge. Frequently I feel like things are over my head, but I come up with a plan to break down the task, ask for assistance when I need it, and then deliver a product. Sometimes that product needs to be refined, but getting through the first iteration starts the movement.
Any advice for prospective students who are considering UW CEE?
Get involved! I know everyone says this, but seriously. Do it. The relationships you form while joining the ASCE chapter, Steel Bridge or Concrete Canoe, meeting with a peer mentor, or getting involved with research will give you a taste of what the department is like. You’ll learn new things while also seeing if the program fits in with what you’re hoping to get out of it.