From surveying local parks in her hometown to designing a water distribution network in Guatemala, Molly Stewart is already using her civil engineering skillsets to help communities and the environment.
“Being able to see the impact of my work is important to me, and with civil engineering the work is always very tangible—mitigating floods, constructing bridges, providing clean drinking water—they are all designed with the intention of raising the quality of life for an individual. I value stewardship of the earth and civil engineering is based on sustainability.”
Stewart’s passion for the environment emerged in the tree-covered bluffs in her hometown of Baraboo, Wisconsin. She knew she wanted to go into engineering ever since middle school because it combines creativity and science, and her internship at MSA Professional Services helped guide her toward civil engineering. As the engineering intern on the municipal team, Stewart helped with surveying, staking and redlining for park, trail and road projects. “My favorite project was when I helped to survey for a frisbee golf course and we needed to get shots for a boat launch, so we got to wade out into the lake!”
Stewart also credits the supportive Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management (CAECM) Department for helping her select her career path. “As a freshman, upperclassmen were quick to offer guidance about course work, internships, clubs and organizations at MSOE, which helped me find my direction here quickly and pursue my goals fearlessly. The emphasis on securing internships for the summers has helped me really understand what the industry is like and refine what it is I hope to do after graduation.”
One of the clubs that empowered Stewart to explore her passions is Engineers Without Borders (EWB). EWB is an organization that works with communities to find appropriate solutions for their infrastructure needs. As a freshman, Stewart helped lay out a construction schedule for the Chosavic School House project. She also worked on a water distribution project for the community of El Manantial in Guatemala.
“We designed a water distribution network so the residents can have access to clean drinking water at their homes without having to walk to the nearest spring. This fall we added in a component to our project to make the pump run on hybrid power from the grid and solar array. This will reduce daily utility cost for residents of the community, promote sustainability in Guatemala and provide a template for future hybrid solar projects in Guatemala.”
EWB allows Stewart to apply the skills she learns in class, gain hands-on experiences in a real-world project, gain valuable skills working and presenting on a team, and make friendships with classmates. Giving back to the community is the ultimate reward for Stewart.
“I can’t believe that I have an opportunity as an undergraduate to help an entire community in such a big way. Whether it’s through a water distribution project, a schoolhouse or a bridge, the community is so grateful. The feeling of having helped bring that to fruition is unmatched.”
Stewart hopes to continue to give back and help sustain the environment after graduation. Her dream job is to serve as a civil engineer at the U.S. National Forest Service or an engineering firm. In addition to EWB, Stewart is member of MSOE’s women’s cross country and track teams, and a co-chair for CAECM Career Night. In her free time, she enjoys adventuring with her friends, which includes everything from backpacking, rock climbing, biking or just running to Starbucks between classes. She also enjoys reading and sketching.