UC Student Ready for Next Big Adventure
By: Desiré Bennett
Morgen Schroeder is the UC College of Engineering and Applied Science Engineer of the Month for June. Morgen maintained a 3.527 GPA in her senior year in the civil engineering program and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree.
Morgen’s adoration of UC stems from a university tour she took while in high school. “I just fell in love with the campus and I fell in love with the engineering program,” she said. When Morgen heard students talking about their co-op work and their international co-op experiences, her mind was made up. “I said, ‘I’ve got to come here and I’ve got to do all of these things’.”
Morgen did just that and, after taking a series of intro to civil engineering classes, she learned about environmental engineering. “That’s where I really found my niche and ended up focusing my co-op work,” she said. “The biggest challenge was working in the international co-op program which involved an intensive six-week 9 am to 4pm German class – and I’d never taken German before.” Morgen then had to take other language and culture classes throughout the semester to help prepare her for her impending co-op experience in Germany.
Before going abroad though, Morgen participated in local co-op assignments. Her first co-op rotation was with the Environmental Protection Agency conducting drinking water research. The second one was in the Environmental Health and Safety group within the Air Management group for Duke Energy. “I switched from water to air and from the regulator to the regulatee – and it was pretty cool to see both sides of the industry in that way.”
Morgen’s last co-op assignment was with Wuperverband, a small environmental engineering firm that owns and operates 13 wastewater treatment plants in Germany. “While I was there I got to work on a European funded project called INNERS, which stands for INNovative Energy Recovery Strategies in the urban water cycle,” she explains. “I got to work on an international team and I helped with some background research on energy optimization in wastewater treatment plants.”
Morgen is grateful for the diverse options that are offered within the co-op program. “I worked for three different companies which is something that I really liked about the program,” she said. “Because of this, I had the chance to explore multiple niches within civil engineering.”
Not only was she exposed to an array of roles within the field, but she also gained invaluable knowledge that she believes is worth passing along. “Never be afraid to ask for help – the employers are always there to teach you and they are usually very patient,” she said. “Just try to learn as much as you can from them by always
asking questions and keeping an open mind.”
During the six months Morgen was in Germany, she developed a love for international travel and visited 11 countries and several cities including London, Paris, Prague, Salzburg, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. She was even able to catch up with an old friend. “I had hosted a foreign exchange student, from Finland, when I was in high school,” she said. “I finally got to go over to Finland and visit her and her family.”
Immediately following her international co-op in Germany, Morgen was invited to attend an international symposium in Bangalore, India with the Society of Women Engineers.
“It was really cool. I was one of 10 collegiate women selected to represent the US,” she said. “I got to go over there and talk with women engineers in India and it was a really cool cross-cultural experience.”
Morgen participates in several on-campus organizations. She serves as an ambassador for the honor’s program and as a learning community peer leader. “I was a peer leader during my sophomore through junior years,” she said.
“That was a really great way to mentor UC freshman and make sure they get acclimated to the college and find their way in the school of engineering.”
Morgen is also the president of Sigma Phi Women’s Honorary, the highest honor for women on UC’s campus, as well as the president of Chi Epsilon, the civil engineering honorary. “Getting and staying involved has been the most rewarding experience I have had at UC so students really should get involved early and be active in their involvement because it affects every aspect of their UC career,” she said.
Morgen says that having a full schedule is the key to staying on top of all of her responsibilities. “It’s kind of funny because I find that the more active and the busier I am, the better I am with my time management,” she explains. “I would tell all of my Learning Center students to ‘find what works for you and then really perfect your time management skills.’ Whether it is keeping a planner or using a calendar or something like that – it really comes down to your time management.”
After graduating, Morgen plans to move to Dallas, Texas to cultivate a Bearcat romance.” I’m dating another wonderful UC Bearcat – he’s an electrical engineering student who has a fulltime job with Texas Instruments, where he had a co-op assignment,” she said. “I am focusing my job search in the Dallas area so that we can be together.”
Morgen is optimistic about the job opportunities there and is hopeful about her career options. “I really like how broad civil engineering is. There are lots of different areas that you can focus your career and there’s a wide array of opportunities for me in the field of civil engineering.”