K-State graduation year: 2007
Degree: BS in mechanical engineering
Current employer: Black and Veatch
Position: Systems design engineer
How many times did you change your major during college?
Describe the process of choosing your major:
I always had an interest in engineering growing up, but at the beginning of college I didn't know which type. I decided to start out in industrial engineering, but after my first semester of introductory industrial engineering courses, and after visiting booths at the career fair, I decided that the course work and career path were not what I was expecting. I decided to change my major to mechanical engineering, which I enjoyed much more.
What activities/organizations were you involved in while in college?
Ichthus Campus Ministries
Worked at Kramer Dining Center
Volunteered at Boys and Girls Club
Did you complete an internship or have related work experience prior to receiving your job?
Yes, for two summers I was hired as a mechanical engineering intern at Black and Veatch prior to graduating from K-State. Each summer I was assigned a sponsor who was an experienced engineer and who assigned me work and mentored me throughout the summer. I was given opportunities to perform design work and even work with contractors to purchase the equipment I designed.
I was given a lot of flexibility, which made my internships a great learning experience. The internships gave me an indication of exactly the kind of work I would be doing after I graduated, as well as the opportunities available within the company itself.
Describe the process of finding your first job:
My summer internships were a great gauge for helping me choose what industry to work in. I researched the companies in this industry and was selective about the companies I applied to. I ended up only applying to two companies. One of them offered me a job after I completed a full-day interview. The other company was Black and Veatch, where I had performed my summer internships. I did not have to interview with Black and Veatch because they offered me a job upon the completion of my last internship.
Briefly describe a typical day at your job:
A typical work day in the office involves working at my desk, attending meetings, and collaborating with others to accomplish tasks. Most days in the office are pretty consistent, but often problems or issues will come up that require the project team to completely change focus and offer quick solutions. When I visit construction sites I often spend lots of time on-site inspecting construction works and assisting with construction-related issues.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The projects I work on take anywhere from two to five years to complete. It is a long time to work on one project, but as the project construction progresses there is a lot of satisfaction in watching something I helped design being built.
I also enjoy the people I work with and the opportunities my job offers. There are a wide range of opportunities within my field that allow me to travel and relocate (both in the U.S. and internationally) as well as work on construction sites or in the office.
Having this flexibility makes my job more exciting and enjoyable because I like new experiences. I also enjoy working on projects that are located in developing countries because I know I am helping provide vital infrastructure to help that country develop.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
Due to the size and nature of the projects I work on, it is a difficult balancing act to minimize cost and yet still design and build safe and quality products. All projects have unique and challenging characteristics, such as cultural differences on international projects, changing code requirements, and tight project schedules and budgets. It is also very challenging to manage contracts worth millions of dollars and be responsible for implementing those contracts.
What advice would you give someone interested in your field?
Mechanical engineering is one of the broader engineering disciplines because of the variety of industries that hire mechanical engineers. It is important to be able to find out which area of mechanical engineering you will enjoy because it is difficult to switch later in your career.