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Reflections from the Graduating Class of 2019

Allison Preston • DATE: April 10, 2019



Eric Duarte

Degree: Civil Engineering
Student Involvement: Teaching Assistant (Materials), Notre Dame ASCE chapter, Concrete Canoe, ND SEED
Internships: Engineering internship with Walsh Construction on LaGuardia Airport
Post-graduation plans: Starting work in Construction Management at Turner Construction in Chicago

What made you decide to attend the University of Notre Dame?
Eric: One of the main reasons I came to Notre Dame was because of the faculty/student ratio. If I had questions, I wanted to be able to talk to my teachers, which I definitely go here at Notre Dame.

What was one of your favorite experiences in your undergraduate career?Eric: Sophomore year I was on ND SEED. It is a lot of structural design, geotechnical engineering, statics, and construction management. You have to be really good at time management. My year we went to Nicaragua and built a 120 ft bridge for two months and spent the whole year designing it, fundraising for it, and getting feedback on that process. That was one of my favorite experiences and got me into civil engineering.


Adam Kuczynski

Degree: Civil Engineering
Student Involvement: Glee Club, Notre Dame ASCE chapter, Concrete Canoe
Internships: Structural Engineering Internship with McMillan Associates, engineering internship with City of South Bend
Post-graduation plans: Working for McMillon Associates as a Structural Engineer

What did you do for your senior design project?
We designed a pedestrian bridge to span the St. Joseph River and we are designing a network tie arch. It was so cool to do something from start to finish. We wanted to challenge ourselves, and we are really proud of it.

In reflecting on your time at Notre Dame, what are you thankful for?
My first year was really tough at Notre Dame academically, so being able to have that backbone of professors and friends was really important to me. And the spiritual aspect of Notre Dame is really strong here. It’s really comforting to be able to know that people are so welcoming to everyone here.


Katie McKeon

Degree: Civil Engineering
Student Involvement: Big Beam (Mix Design), Concrete Canoe (Mix Design Captain) Notre Dame ASCE chapter
Internships: Research internship with Dr. Andrew Kennedy and Dr. Alex Taflinidis in Haiti, engineering internship with Turner Construction in Chicago
Post-graduation plans: Starting work as an Engineering Assistant at Turner Construction in Chicago

What organizations were you involved with?
I was part of Big Beam last year and that was a really good experience. It was a lot of work and very hands-on and it taught me so much. I was in charge of the mix design for Concrete Canoe and Big Beam.  It definitely was nice being able to continue applying what we learned in Materials class. I find it so interesting because there’s very little research about it and it’s so open to you finding things out yourself. There’s no solution handbook you can look at. The proportions vary so much and one little thing can change it.

In Big Beam and Concrete Canoe, my first introduction to it was through the upper-class leadership and then I took the courses related to it. It’s nice seeing freshman and sophomores join now that I am leading and it’s nice to be able to teach the younger students.

What is your advice for other undergraduate students?
Get involved. It has made my experience so much better getting to know people outside of class and working on a project late in the night, voluntarily, because you are passionate about it.


Brittany Margritz

Degree: Civil Engineering
Student Involvement: ND SEED (Project Manager), Notre Dame ASCE chapter, Concrete Canoe, Center for Social Concerns
Internships: Summer consulting internship/service abroad opportunity in Guatemala 
Post-Graduation Plans: Building footbridges in Swaziland with Engineers in Action

How did you decide on Notre Dame for engineering?
 No one in my family went to Notre Dame, so it wasn’t on my radar until one of my friends applied. Notre Dame invited me out here to visit and I had never been to campus before. I really loved it. I really wanted something that spoke to all my interests outside of engineering where I could do work with engineering globally in a cross-disciplinary way. At Notre Dame, you get to do a lot of things you wouldn’t get to do if you were just going to an engineering school.

What will you be doing next?
In mid-September, I’m moving to Swaziland, a small country in South Africa. I’m going to be working with Engineers in Action to build footbridges there for a few years so I’m very excited. Without Notre Dame, I don’t think I would have met that organization or had this opportunity.


Natalie Petro

Degree: Civil Engineering
Student Involvement: Air Force ROTC
Post-Graduation Plans: Civil Engineering Squadron at Fairbanks, Alaska, Airforce base.

What was one of your favorite experiences in college?
The field trip to New York City was awesome. I didn’t get to know a lot of the other civil engineering students that well before the trip, but that’s when I started making friends within the CEEES Department.

What are you doing next?
Natalie: I’m going to be in a civil engineering squadron stationed at the Air Force base in Fairbanks, Alaska. They are a self-sustaining base that has its own power plant, and the base is doubling in size when I get there. That means double the people, double the structures, so that’s a civil engineer’s dream! I’m excited to finally put some of what I’ve learned into practice and meet new people.


Marisa Ross

Degree: Environmental Engineering
Student Involvement: Welsh Family Hall Council Sustainability Commissioner, Resident Advisor (Welsh Family Hall), GreeND, National Society of Black Engineers, Baraka Bouts
Internships: Environmental engineering research internship in New Zealand
Post-Graduation Plans: Pursuing Federal government jobs related to environmental engineering

What is different about the Notre Dame engineer?
We have to take all these other university requirements and it makes our program more well-rounded and bridges engineering into the world. I just really like that there’s faith, sports, and academics.

What advice do you have for prospective students or undergraduate students?
Don’t be afraid to fail. In the switch from high school to college there is a lot of pressure -If you did well in high school you should do well in college. But that doesn’t always determine what you should do or what you will be good at.


Daniel Szydlowski

Degree: Environmental Engineering
Student Involvement: Environmental Engineering Society, Fishing Club, Adopt-A-Family Christmas Initiative
Internships: Research internships at University of Notre Dame Research Center in Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin
Post-Graduation Plans: Attending the University of Illinois to earn Master’s in Aquatic Ecology studying lakes and invasive species

What is one of the most important lessons you’ve learned while at Notre Dame?
The biggest thing would be learning the importance of interdisciplinary work. I’ve gotten into ecology and biology and I’ve seen how it can connect to engineering. The connection between engineering and all of these different fields is very important to research.

What kind of undergraduate research have you been able to complete?
I’ve done research the past two summers up at the University of Notre Dame Research Center in Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin. It has been really impactful to be in nature while researching and making a meaningful contribution. It was formative because it’s not something I thought I ever wanted to do, but I found out I loved it and now that’s the career path I’m on.