In her four years at UAA, civil engineering senior Kacy Grundhauser has achieved an impressive amount on top of her challenging degree. To top it off, the American Society of Civil Engineers recently recognized her as one of the 2020 New Faces of Civil Engineering – Collegiate Edition.
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTUU) – Eight years after construction began, the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ engineering building officially opened.
Last month, UA President Jim Johnsen and other university officials did the honors at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $115 million building.
The building nearly doubles the space available for the campus’s engineering students, who are part of one of the university’s longest-running departments. About 1,000 students will use the building each year.
Openness was a driving factor in the building’s design.
“Most of the high bay facilities at other universities would be encased in concrete walls. Ours is encased in glass,” said Douglas Goering, Dean of the College of Engineering and Mines. “So people can see what engineers do and experience and become engaged with what engineers do.”
UAA’s College of Engineering has hired its first ever K-12 Coordinator, Vicki Nechodomu. She’ll serve as the chief liaison between the engineering college and K-12 educators in surrounding school districts, including those with more rural constituents.
Her job is to spend time with teachers to learn what their needs are and how the university can help, said Fred Barlow, UAA’s dean of the College of Engineering
“We want to be a part of the solution,” Barlow said. “Sometimes what happens is K-12 and higher education end up pointing fingers at each other. We want to set that aside. We want to work together so that the quality of student outcomes increases. Vicki is part of our commitment.”
Careers in fabrication involve taking raw materials and making something useful out of them. One example is making control systems for the oil and gas industry. Alaskans who are interested can also expect a decent salary.
Lynn Johnson, a director with Dowland Bach, says entry level welders start out at around $44,000 a year and can make up to $101,000. General fabricators make about the same, and engineers start at $70,000 and can make up to $162,000 a year.
Johnson said the type of person he looks for has to have a general aptitude for mechanical work and an excellent work ethic. He added that kind of person should also expect to go home at the end of the day proud that they built something with their hands. Johnson mentioned in the past 40 years he’s been proud to see the various things his company has built around Anchorage.
For many Native American students, college seems as far off as the moon. But as Buzz Aldrin said in an appearance at the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program, “Once you set your mind to get something done, seemingly anything is possible.”
ANSEP has been boosting students to university and beyond since 1995, with a plan that begins in middle school and extends into career placement after graduation. This series of intensive academic supports centered at the University of Alaska Anchorage inspires students to explore science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
As of 2016, roughly 2,000 students have taken part in the program, which has over 100 partners in the form of philanthropic organizations, corporations, educational institutions, and government agencies. It helps Natives prepare for careers within the oil and gas industry, biology, conservation, and other technical fields. The Urban Institute has categorized ANSEP as one of the most successful STEM programs in the country, propelling 85 percent of graduates to STEM careers.