This past year, over 400 alumni donated their time to the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Using their skills and technical expertise, they volunteered through a variety of opportunities such as mentoring students, serving on an advisory board, or guest lecturing.
Katie Simon (MechEng'18) lives in Louisville, Colorado, and serves as a mechanical engineer at Plexus Corp, a global engineering firm that specializes in helping companies design, develop and manufacture electronic components for their complex products. Katie has volunteered her time to network with current students at a variety of events. At these events, she has been able to share her experiences at CU, the importance of internships and give advice to students on chasing their dream jobs. She is the first alumna in a series of spotlights displaying the outstanding volunteers from the College of Engineering and Applied Science.
Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an engineer. How did you decide that mechanical engineering was something you wanted to pursue?
Coming to CU, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I knew I liked math and science, but didn't know anything about what engineering was. I started in pre-engineering, and moved into mechanical engineering during the middle of my sophomore year. I chose mechanical because I really enjoyed my physics classes and LOVED the freshman projects class. As I got further into engineering, I really liked the wide variety of opportunities that came with an engineering degree and the hands-on nature of mechanical.
What was your experience like as a student at CU?
My experience as a student was great. My freshman year, I was on the CU club ski team and a resident of the Engineering Quad. I loved living with and getting to know all my classmates so well right off the bat. Sophomore year I played on the CU club volleyball team, and junior year I spent half of the year in New Zealand for study abroad. My first internship was in New Zealand working with 3D printed spinal replacement pieces. This semester and internship were two of the biggest highlights during my time at CU.
I also interned at Electro-Mechanical Products in Lakewood, Colorado as a manufacturing engineering intern. During my senior year and fifth year at CU, I was on the Engineering Excellence Fund (EEF) committee, and I had the privilege of being the chair during my second year on the committee. During my last semester, I was a PMV engineering intern at Medtronic, and I was also a TA for the Profession and Fluid Dynamics courses within the Mechanical Engineering department. I found mentorship in many of the EEF committee members and faculty advisors, along with my internship coworkers and bosses. As I got closer to graduating, I sought guidance from all of these mentors for resume reviews, interview help, and selecting a job.
Why has it been important for you to volunteer your time and give back to the College of Engineering and Applied Science since graduating last year?
CU and the engineering college have opened a countless number of doors for me. During my time at CU, I found a passion for engineering that lead to a job that I love, friends that I will keep forever, and mentors that I continue to turn to for help through my professional career. Giving back allows me to help other students find their passion and have the same great experience that I had at CU. During classes, tech talks and senior design, so many alumni came back to help guide me along the way. This is my way of paying it forward to the next generation of engineering Buffs.
What are the highlights of serving as an alumni volunteer? Do you see yourself continuing to donate your time to CU?
My experience at every volunteer event so far has been awesome. The students are always so engaged, professional and personable. They ask great questions and express their excitement to be part of the college. Getting to connect with other alumni who are all doing all sorts of cool things now has been really fun, too. I like the variety of events, ages and experience levels of students, and welcoming community that comes with the alumni volunteer events. I'm excited to see what events are held this school year.
Can you speak about your advocacy work to hire CU Engineering grads at Plexus?
At Plexus, we work to hire the best people. There are so many CU engineering alumni that work at Plexus and we are all very passionate about both Plexus and CU. Being involved in our Campus Focus Team, we are always on the search for the best students to participate in our intern program or to come work at Plexus full-time after graduation. We recognize that CU Engineering has many great engineers and leaders in all of the programs, and our Campus Focus Team works to get on campus and involved in events to hire those Buffs to work with us.