Jacqueline Thompson

Civil Engineering, B.S. (2014)

Design Engineer - Bolton & Menk, Inc.

Hometown: Baudette, MN

Now lives in: Woodbury, MN

Career path: During the summers between my sophomore and junior year, and junior and senior year, I worked as an intern for a private engineering company in the Twin Cities. Through my last two years of school, I kept in contact with the company and in December 2013 I accepted a job with them for after I graduated. In May 2014, after graduation, I started working full time as a Design Engineer, EIT. Since then I have worked construction inspection in the summers, working directly with contractors, residents and City staff; managing projects and overseeing construction. In the winters, I spend my time working on CAD and getting more and more involved in the design process. 

What or who inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?

I kind of fell into it. I spent two years at Itasca Community College and after trying a couple other majors, decided why not try engineering? I had friends that were in it and I was good at math and science. After trying it for a semester, I loved it and stuck with it. When I transferred to NDSU after graduating at ICC, I was committed and learned to enjoy the information that was being taught. I am glad I tried it and stuck with it. I love it!

What’s it like being a woman in a male-dominated field?

It has it’s ups and downs. I enjoy the added challenge though. A lot of people in today’s world are fully accepting of it and don’t think too hard about it, but every now and then I work with someone (contractor, City staff, or residents) that don’t take me seriously or don’t think I fully understand what I am talking about. I do strongly believe that it has to do with me being younger and a woman, not just being a woman. These encounters make me work a little harder to prove myself, not only to the person, but also to myself. I think it is important that we work just as hard as our male co-workers because we are all doing the same job. Being a woman in a male dominated field has made me step outside my comfort zone multiple times for things as simple as going to lunch with a group of co-workers that happen to be all males, and I’m glad I do; it helps me get to know the people I work around every day and makes work all the more enjoyable. 

What advice would you give to young girls interested in engineering?

Try it! It won’t hurt to at least try it. You may find out you don’t like it or that it just isn’t for you, but at least you can say you tried and won’t wonder “what if?”. You may love it! There are so many things that you can continue to learn every day. 

What’s your best memory from NDSU?

I met some amazing people at NDSU! The classmates and people you meet on campus make a huge difference. They can make class more fun and you create friendships that last! I still keep in touch with multiple people I met on campus in different ways; one was in my wedding! 

How did your NDSU education prepare you for your career?

NDSU not only taught me the technical skills needed for engineering, but it helped me improve my social skills through the variety of groups and activities available. The engineering groups helped me to improve social skills, technical skills, time management, and writing skills, all things I use on a daily basis.

What’s the biggest misconception about your job?

There is so much more to my job than math and science. Actually, I rarely use calculus and chemistry in my job. Engineering is multiple assets and principles all rolled into one, and can be a variety of jobs. My job consists of design, math, presentation skills, science, common sense, discipline, fun, technology, innovative solutions, and so much more! No day is ever the same and I am constantly learning new things.

What advice would you give to female college students just getting started in the NDSU engineering program?

Make the most of it. Don’t just go to class and learn. Meet people, join groups, get to know your teachers, and most importantly – step out of your comfort zone. It may be painful or hard at first, but that is how you make the most of your time there. It is so worth it in the end!

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