In continuing a family legacy, the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) February Engineer of the Month, Mary Conroy, knew exactly what institution she would call home as early as middle school.
“I've been a fan of UC for as long as I can remember. Many family members have attended, and I grew up rooting for the basketball team,” said Conroy.
Beyond rooting for the university on the court, Conroy started to build a more personal connection to UC in the seventh grade. Throughout middle school, Conroy competed in the district Science Fair competitions hosted at UC.
“I would spend the morning presenting my projects in TUC Great Hall for judges, and would spend the rest of the day exploring the campus with my dad, who is a UC graduate himself,” said Conroy, “on those days, I absolutely fell in love with the campus.”
Within the two years of science fair competitions, Conroy was awarded $5,500 in scholarships to CEAS, which she states gave some extra motivation to selecting a program here.
Even with the granted scholarships, Conroy was not sure in which program she would enroll. Just when she thought she would double major in English and secondary education, she states that she had an epiphany while writing her statement of purpose that stirred her back to wanting to pursue engineering.
“I had constantly discussed in my essays, my passion for volunteering and improving the world around me – such as my love for hands-on engineering projects, like designing and building the sets for the theater department,” said Conroy, “this, combined with a love of chemistry that I had always fostered, made Chemical Engineering seem like an obvious choice that I had never before considered.”
Conroy states that her favorite aspect of her career path is that it isn't completely set, “I don't know exactly where I'm going, but I have a wonderful support network of family, friends, and co-workers and a great educational foundation that has allowed me so much room for growth.”
In better helping her to explore future career routes, all five of Conroy’s cooperative education (co-op) rotations have been at DuBois Chemicals in Sharonville, Ohio. “I've absolutely loved my time there,” she says.
Conroy started at Dubois Chemicals in April of last year as an applications engineering technician working with metal cleaners, pretreatments, and sealers. She later moved to the position of research and development technician, working on formulating those products. As she was entering her last co-op rotation, she was offered a full-time salaried position as an ISO Manager/Product Line Manager for Food and Beverage Cleaning and Sanitation, Maintenance Cleaning, and Specialty Chemicals.
“I'm unbelievably lucky to have found a company where I am happy and able to thrive, and also one that is so willing to invest in my future,” said Conroy. Beyond Conroy’s co-op work and job offer, she regards her proudest academic moments to have been her group projects.
“There's something so rewarding about working with a group of people that you genuinely enjoy being around, and putting out a product that you're truly proud of,” said Conroy, “I've been blessed with an incredible senior design group, as well as a variety of high-level lab groups, and it has made such a personal impact on me.
“There's something really uplifting about being able to contribute to a group in a big way, but also mesh well with those around you in a way that makes the experience into a positive educational experience, but also a positive personal experience,” she concluded.
Conroy states that amidst the accomplishments, her biggest challenge has been time management while also making the most of her college years.
“It's important to make time for friends and family, as well as have some personal time,” she said, “I learned a lot of valuable lessons about making time for what's most important, as well as learning just how much I'm capable of accomplishing.”
She recommends two things to future and fellow students; prioritize and make time for the things that matter most, and to take a minute at the end of every day to reflect on how you spent your time.
“Do what you need to do to be your best self. Know yourself and know your limits. If you're stretching yourself too thin, it shows,” said Conroy, “Identify your strengths and your passions, but also the things that could've been better. It's vital to understand who you are and who you want to be.”
During her time at UC, Conroy has had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua and France with UC, for a service trip and for a class excursion, respectively. She regards them as both being opportunities where she learned an incredible amount and made new friends.
On a simpler note, she also thinks very fondly of attending football games, working in the library for hours on end on projects with friends, and peer leading for UC Learning Communities.
“It's unreal how quickly the years have flown by, but it's really the little things that have made the biggest impact,” said Conroy.
The College of Engineering and Applied Science congratulates Mary Conroy on her outstanding achievements thus far and as the February Engineer of the Month.
Select for previous Engineers of the Month.