Olivia Crowell reflects on her experience at UMSL as she contemplates her future as an engineer – UMSL Daily


Olivia Crowell graduated in December with a degree in electrical engineering after an illustrious college career at Pierre Laclede Honors College. (Photo by August Jennewein)

In eighth grade, Olivia Crowell wasn’t thinking about her long-term future, but one day high school girls came to her class to recruit student engineers, mentioning that “there aren’t enough girls”.

Crowell was not interested. She wanted to be a chef.

At age 5, she imagined herself hosting a cooking show. But her math teacher saw her potential for science and signed her up to speak with high school students.

The conversation went well enough that Crowell entered a trick-making contest with marshmallows and dried spaghetti. She won. From then on, the STEM field became a real option and she started taking engineering classes in her freshman year at Timberland High School in Wentzville, Missouri.

Crowell, now a senior at the University of Missouri-St. The joint Louis University/Washington undergraduate engineering program will graduate in December with a degree in electrical engineering. A member of the Pierre Laclede Honors College, Crowell is about to start a new job at Ameren, where she currently works as a system protection intern.

In high school, Crowell was a well-rounded student who excelled in her studies and extracurricular activities, including competitive swimming and the trombone.

Her grades and aptitude for science were so good that she was one of 101 high school girls from St. Louis to be selected for the Student and Teacher Program as Research Scientists at UMSL, and that’s what ultimately led to his choice of college.

The annual six-week summer program pairs high school students with mentors who are the region’s top research scientists, and they gain hands-on lab experience. Crowell partnered with research scientist Elizabeth A. Kellogg and worked in her lab, studying plant biology.

“It was awesome,” Crowell said. “I loved seeing what research is like and feeling comfortable being on a university campus. I learned to write scientifically, and it wasn’t something I had in my high school classes, but it was an expectation when I got to college.

Students in the STARS program are offered a full scholarship to UMSL, and for Crowell, who was being considered by a host of other universities, the idea of ​​attending Pierre Laclede Honors College and finishing debt-free was ideal. She also received a research grant, which she used in the summer after her freshman year.

“I researched aquatic engineering,” Crowell said. “I walked into a lab at Wash U. and researched why the Washington DC lead water scandal happened or the Flint water situation as well. I worked under the supervision of a doctoral student, helping him with his research during the summer. »

Since then, Crowell has continued to make the most of her experience at UMSL and has been active in the student community. She has held leadership positions in several student organizations, including as president of the Catholic Newman Center at UMSL, president of the Society of Future Engineers, and vice president of the local chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Crowell also had a noticeable impact in his department, as noted by his academic advisor, David Polite.

“Not only is Olivia a good student academically due to her natural talent and, more importantly, a strong work ethic, but she is also generously donated to the joint UMSL/WUSTL undergraduate engineering program. as a student volunteer and mentor and serving on the Student Advisory Council,” he said. “This commitment to improving the process is fundamental to the mindset of successful engineers, it’s why I predict a bright future for him.”

Through her work and experiences at UMSL, Crowell has grown as a STEM seeker and is now ready to look to the future. His immediate plan after graduation is to work at Ameren. She champions sustainability and sees “clean energy as the engine of change in the world”.

“I’m going to rotate about every six months to a new team,” she said. “I hope to join the renewable energy team. I’m excited.”

In the future, Crowell, a lifelong learner, wants to attend a graduate school overseas. Last summer, she finally made it to France, the country where she dreamed of being a chef, as part of a study abroad program at UMSL. The experience, which allowed her to practice the French that she began studying in her first year of high school, reinforced her interest in pursuing her master’s degree in an international institution.

“It was awesome,” she said. “I liked it. Classes were about three weeks, but I stayed for a month. I took six credit hours in three weeks, which was a lot. But it was really fun – just learning. Where we were, it was very centered on French.

Crowell has already achieved so much in his 22 years and has maintained a full activity schedule since high school. Instead of seeing her busy schedule as a burden, her mother taught her to “go where you are invited.” But she also knows how to find a balance by setting limits on her capacity for involvement. This perspective has helped Crowell develop a diverse set of skills, interests, and experiences that will strengthen her as she approaches life after graduation.

Reflecting on his time at UMSL, what stands out are the relationships.

“It’s been great,” she said. “I have made new friends and a support system in my personal life that I know I will have in the next stage of my life. I have had experiences that I don’t think I would have had if I had been at another university.

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