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Amy Schockling ND '15: ENVIRONMENT

AUTHOR: Allison Preston

PUBLISHED: December 5, 2017

Q: What was your area of concentration?

Schockling: I graduated in 2015 with a bachelor's of science in civil engineering with an environmental concentration and an engineering corporate practice minor. 

Q: What organizations were you involved in while at Notre Dame?

Schockling: I participated in ASCE events, joined Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon, but I spent most of my time in Dr. Nerenberg's environmental biotechnology lab. I spent a summer there with the Clare Boothe Luce grant. I was also in the basketball pep band for a few semesters, the symphonic winds band, and was the environmental chair in my hall council.

Q: Did you participate in any internships?

Schockling: Yes! I interned with CH2MHill in Houston with the environmental compliance team. I gained a lot of experience with AutoCAD and environmental regulations, especially in the oil and gas industry. It also helped me to realize that I wanted to take a career path where I could help people and the environment more actively, instead of passively cleaning up messes created by oil corporations or helping them follow certain laws. I found more fulfillment with my energy management internship with the City of South Bend’s Office of Sustainability department. This was relatively new when I joined and I worked there during the school year. I learned a lot from this position and would recommend working there to anyone!

Q: What class did you think was most valuable? 

Schockling: Our senior design class was the most valuable for me. My job at the Madison Water Utility draws knowledge and skills directly from that class. It gave me experience with Civil3D / CAD and teaches you how to prepare standard build documents for a proposal. Fluid mechanics was useful as well — I used the Hazen-Williams equation to calculate head loss in a water main just last week for a DNR water main extension application.

Q: Where are you working now?

Schockling: I am now working for the Madison Water Utility (an entity of the City of Madison) as an engineer. I will be a design engineer working on pipe replacement design, pipe lining projects, and other projects related to the water wells, pumps, and pipes that supply the City of Madison. 

Q: Have you experienced challenges being a woman in a male-dominated field?

Schockling: This has not been such a problem for me so far. I do notice that I am one of the two female engineers in my workplace (there are more in the City engineering departments) but I take it as a compliment to my abilities and also as a challenge to show that I can do anything that a male engineer can do. It may take some time, but any woman can get there with the right amount of determination. It is really important to have a good attitude, both about life and the work you do. If you really believe that the work you are doing is good, then you will find a way to be successful in it.

Q: What projects are you most proud of?

Schockling: I have not been with the Water Utility long enough to complete my own design project but I am proud that within the first two weeks of employment, I was already given a design project for 2018. I currently have a handful assigned to me and I am almost finished with my first “cornfield" design, which consists of designs given to a private developer who wants to develop new land. 

Q: What challenges have you had on the job?

Schockling: Adjusting to the “real world” after college can be difficult. It’s important to put your best self and diligence into the work day, but a big part of having a job is balancing your “real life” with your 40-hours-a-week life. I find that work can exercise some of your passions, but it’s also necessary to find meaning in your life outside of a job.

Q: What excites you about the future of civil engineering?

Schockling: I think civil engineers are going to be the ones who really push for changes in our environmentally destructive behaviors. We are going to be the ones to build safer and more sustainable buildings, deliver clean water to people in the most energy-efficient way, and clean our waste products in a way that returns clean water to the environment. I am proud to be a part of this future and I am proud to work for a “company” (really the city) whose work delivers the thing that sustains life and lets people prosper!

Q: Is there any new technology, software, or programs students should learn about to have a competitive edge?

Schockling: AutoCAD/Civil3D and possibly MicroStation are crucial if you want to go into municipal work, which I highly recommend. Even if you do go to work for a city or a private company in the water delivery industry, journals such as those put out by the AWWA are a great way to stay ahead of new technology in the industry. It’s never too early to start reading academic or topical journals for your own knowledge.

Q: What advice would you give to students who will be graduating soon?

Schockling: My advice to those students who are about to embark into the real world is to stay checked in, even in your last semester. This may be the last time in a while that you are in a classroom with your friends. You probably think that after four grueling years at Notre Dame that you will never miss the classroom, but honestly, you just might. I miss learning and being in that communal learning environment. You may even decide to go to grad school! Take it all in, don’t miss one moment because your college life and career will be gone before you realize it.

Q: What advice do you wish you could give to your college self?

Schockling: I wish my college self would have taken more opportunities to network with other engineering students and professors, both at Notre Dame and others (like at the ASCE conferences). It can be uncomfortable to put yourself out there for the sake of meeting and learning, but the more you do it early on, the easier it will get. You have many interviews ahead of you in life, so start early to get as much practice as possible. I also wish I knew more about the research going on at Notre Dame and at other universities…even if you do not go into academia or to grad school, that information is useful to have and if nothing else, it gives you interesting and relevant topics to talk to people in your industry about!

Q: How do you think Notre Dame has impacted your career trajectory?

Schockling: I definitely would not be where I am today without my Notre Dame education and connections. The internship with CH2MHill that I had one summer was directly due to my persistence and enthusiasm to talk to alumni that work there now. The Notre Dame engineering credentials on your resume will put people in awe and will definitely bring up a lot of random, or maybe lucky, encounters with others. Notre Dame instilled a passion in me that not many people can say about their alma maters! I am very proud and thankful for all the knowledge, experiences, and friends that I found at Notre Dame.

Amy Schockling is a 2015 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and is currently an engineer for the Madison Water Utility in Madison, Wisconsin. Previously, she served as an energy management intern for the City of South Bend, an environmental compliance intern for CH2M HILL, and in technical services for Epic.