Elizabeth Nolen working in the lab

Elizabeth Nolen

Civil Engineering, Student

What got you started in your engineering research?

I did not know I wanted to go into engineering until after I started the program at BYU. In high school I was good at math and told my father that whatever I majored in I wanted it to do with math. He then offered the idea about going into engineering. I had no idea what engineering was, so he gave me an overview of all the fields. Civil engineering dealt with buildings and cities; I found that interesting. So, I decided I was going into civil engineering, not completely set on the idea that I was going to keep it that way.
 
I signed up for an engineering class my first semester at BYU. I loved the class. I decided then that I was going to keep pursuing an engineering degree and signed up for more classes.
 

What has been your involvement with the engineering program?

My first experience was being a teacher’s assistant. This job allowed me to act as a mentor to the students, helping them decide on classes they should take and which classes to take together.
 
Participating in clubs is another experience that has impacted my ability to be an effective engineer. I was in the presidency for the Society for Women Engineers (SWE), where I was able to help plan and run activities, encourage other women in the field and ask questions that pertained to being a woman in engineering.
 
Now I am working as a research assistant. Writing is a big part of research, and a challenge for me. It is fun, though, to develop a skill that will make me more marketable and provide more learning opportunities.
 

What are some of the projects you have been involved in?

I was able to participate in the steel bridge, Can-Struction and the Concrete Canoe competitions. I was captain for both teams. It demanded finding creative solutions when things did not go according to plan.
 
I am working on a project that involves Emulsion Treated Base, soil underneath roads treated with a product that will make it stronger, and freeze-thaw cycles. It is amazing to see the process of finding how things react in the environment, and to have hands-on experience to solidify the knowledge I have gained.       
 

What have you learned through your experience in engineering?

I’ve learned different applications of a civil engineering degree, and have found what I truly enjoy. I have also come to know myself and what I am capable of. I know I can run a team and get a project finished. I know how much I can handle before I need help, and I have learned to ask for help.