Environmental Engineering Student Profile
Name: Rena Weis
Anticipated Graduation Year: 2017
How and why did you choose your major?
As a freshman, I was enrolled in the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) and did not know what I wanted to major in. Since I had been interested in environmental science for many years, I knew I wanted to be part of a program that allowed for biology exposure, but I also enjoyed math and sought physics exposure, which are not heavily focused on in CBS. After conducting informational interviews with professors from various departments and taking CEGE 3501 "Introduction to Environmental Engineering," I was confident that the Environmental Engineering degree within the Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering Department in the College of Science and Engineering was right for me.
Please give a description (in your words) of your major including the things you learn, favorite classes, and any challenges you have faced.
Environmental Engineering is an interdisciplinary program that allows exposure to math, physics, biology, and chemistry while emphasizing important engineering principles within the curriculum. My favorite classes within the major have been Introduction to Environmental Engineering (CEGE 3501), Environmental Microbiology (CEGE 5551), and Remediation Technologies (CEGE 4562). All three of these classes have exposed me to technologies that are available to reduce and prevent contamination in the environment, which in the long run makes the world a healthier place to live. This major does have a heavy emphasis in mechanics, with Statics, Deformable Body Mechanics, Soil Mechanics, Fluid Mechanics, and Materials as required courses. I recommend that you be prepared for these classes, which are something that separate this major from an Environmental Science and Policy Management or Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering major.
What types of experiences outside of the classroom have you had relating to your major? (i.e. clubs, jobs, internships, volunteering, study abroad etc.)
I am currently a member of the Society of Women Engineers and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. Additionally, I am the President of the American Public Works Association and Secretary of the American Society of Civil Engineers at the University of Minnesota. These clubs are great opportunities to hear from professionals in engineering who provide valuable information that is beneficial to choosing a career path. When pursing an engineering major, it is vial that you gain as much internship experience as possible. After my sophomore year I worked as a Storm Water Engineering Intern for the City of Bloomington, MN. This opportunity allowed me to work side by side with engineering technicians and professional engineers to monitor storm water pond quality, map storm water ponds, inspect storm sewer infrastructure, and gain broad engineering experience. After my junior year (summer 2016), I will be working as a Water Resources Engineering Intern for a local consulting company, Barr Engineering. The Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering (CEGE) offers a 3 week long May Term trip to Norway where students have the opportunity to study field methods in water quality. I was fortunate enough to go on this trip, and learned about stream hydraulics, water treatment, and lake water quality monitoring techniques. Studying abroad for a short time period like this with a group of other UMN students was a great experience that allowed me to build lasting relationships with other UMN students and CEGE faculty.
In your opinion, what is one thing, or one piece of advice that other students pursuing your major should know?
This major has awesome faculty who are very approachable and willing to help you learn! One thing to be aware of is that a lot of your classes will be with civil engineering students and faculty, so be prepared to be exposed to civil engineering fundamentals throughout your time as an undergraduate.