Three years ago, Krysta Swartz, of Caseyville, Illinois, graduated from high school and earned an associate degree from her local community college at the same time. Now, she is preparing to walk across the commencement stage again — this time with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Missouri S&T.
“I always knew I wanted to study engineering, but it wasn’t until I toured S&T that I realized my passion was in civil engineering,” she says. “As a civil engineer, you can see buildings, bridges and infrastructure and know how drastically your work impacts society.”
Swartz says that potential to directly affect the world is what drives her passion as an engineer.
“This field has a creative element, but it ultimately all relates to problem solving,” she says. “I am excited to get to work. A major goal for me is to eventually design bridges for big river crossings with large spans.”
Swartz won’t have to wait long to get to work. After she graduates in the coming weeks from Missouri S&T, she will start working for Great River Engineering in the company’s St. Louis office, where she will focus on the structural design of culverts and bridges.
Even though this will be Swartz’s first full-time position after finishing college, she says she is ready for the challenge.
“Missouri S&T has helped prepare me with my classes and hands-on experiences,” she says. “Being on a design team also made a huge difference.”
As president of the university’s Steel Bridge Design Team, Swartz recently led the team to its fifth consecutive regional championship. Last year, she was the lead fabricator and guided the team through the process of welding the bridge.
“Thanks to the design team, I was able to learn about welding and machining, and I can now better understand shop drawings,” she says. “Being on the design team, combined with my internships, has really helped prepare me for what a real engineering job will entail.”
To go along with her work on the bridge team, Swartz has also been involved as a student ambassador for S&T, as an officer of S&T’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and as a member of the Chi Epsilon International Civil Engineering Honor Society. Swartz says students have nothing to fear when taking hands-on roles for design teams.
“If there is something you are interested in doing, don’t be afraid to jump right in,” she says. “Nobody will look down on you, so just be confident and know that you’re capable.”
To learn more about S&T’s civil engineering programs, visit care.mst.edu.
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