Spring 2016: Alexa Urness
**This is the first post in our member spotlight series!**
Alexa Urness is a senior soon to be graduating from the department. A self-described “Tesla fangirl,” an interest in batteries and alternative energy solutions are what initially drew her to chemical engineering. After ten years of working full-time and living in states as disparate as Montana and California, she returned to college to work toward a degree in Chem E. Alexa is a parent, and she views being part of such a demanding major while raising a child as having both benefits and drawbacks. She points out that while her limited availability “brings perhaps unfortunate challenges for my group members on the major senior projects,” being a parent “has taught me the importance of listening and asking lots of questions.” In addition, and of particular importance to anyone prone to bouts of low blood sugar, she usually has fruit snacks with her.
Alexa has found her studies in the chemical engineering department to be equally challenging and rewarding. Her favorite classes have been Unit Ops 2 and the elective course Biological Frameworks for Engineers, despite a self-professed intense dislike of biology. She describes the most rewarding aspects of the department to be the “opportunity to build relationships with [fellow students and] faculty.” Of the latter, she cites an instance in which “a mentor I respect told me that he’s proud of me for doing something difficult and outside my comfort zone, even though I failed”, as particularly meaningful. Post-graduation, Alexa will be working for Accenture as a Consulting Analyst. The company has given her the summer off before beginning work with them, which she plans to spend with her son visiting museums, zoos, and hiking. When pressed for advice she would give to girls and women wanting to study chemical engineering, Alexa says to “remember that your professors are real people who want to teach you this stuff. Talk to them. Ask them for help. They want you to succeed; it makes them look good (and, you know, they’re probably nice people who like teaching).”