‘When I walked into E1419 in September 2009, I had no idea that the Society of Women Engineers would impact my life so much.’
By Kate Nolan, BS ChE 2013
I don’t often wear a sparkly dress. On most days, I’m happily wearing jeans at work, as a materials & process engineer at the Boeing Co. in St. Louis. I interned with Boeing in the Seattle area after my junior year of college (summer 2012), and was fortunate enough to accept a similar position in my hometown. During my first two years, I supported production for the F-15 and F/A-18 (especially in chemical processing and corrosion issues) and also worked in environmental compliance & hazardous material management for a variety of developmental defense programs. I moved to the 777X program in May 2015, and am so excited to be working on the newest commercial airplane – and I’m getting to focus on finishes and corrosion, which happens to be a perfect extension of electrochemistry and kinetics, which I loved in high school and college. Every day brings new challenges, and I am so lucky to be able to work with other M&P engineers, production operations and design engineers to build something better.
I was very involved in the Society of Women Engineers during my years at Mizzou and served as the chapter’s president during the 2012-2013 academic year. Though it wasn’t always easy balancing senior-level chemical engineering classes and serving as president of a student organization, I came out of it knowing that I wanted to be involved in SWE for the rest of my life. I’ve stayed involved through society-level (essentially national) committees, including a two-year term as a collegiate leadership coach and three summers of coordinating SWE’s society-level outreach awards judging process. Remember that sparkly dress? I wore that while presenting outreach awards at Celebrate SWE (closing banquet at the WE14 annual conference in Los Angeles) to an audience of more than 1,500 people. I’ve also been part of SWE’s Outreach Committee since a few months after graduating, which has further developed my lifelong passion for STEM outreach.
I firmly believe that every person deserves to understand and appreciate the impact that engineers make on our world, through their creativity and passion. Through the Outreach Committee, I’ve been able to represent SWE at the FIRST Robotics Championships and serve on the leadership team for a daylong outreach event with 1,000 attendees, and currently lead the Wow! Innovations Program, which seeks to recognize SWE sections from across the globe for innovative outreach techniques. When I walked into E1419 in September 2009, I had no idea that this organization would impact my life so much.
I didn’t expect to end up here, but Mizzou Engineering gave me those chances I never expected – leading a student organization, undergraduate research opportunities (through Discovery Fellows), but most importantly, some lifelong friends who I hope to never lose. I’d happily do it all over again, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without my MU Engineering education. And finally – Erin Go Bragh!
Kate Nolan lives in St. Louis.