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Monica Ferrell Knudsen

Civil Engineering, Class of 2005
Patrell Engineering INC.

"Believe in yourself and stay positive!"

Monica Knudsen has found a way to balance home and family life as an engineer. She works for the family business, where every day is Take Your Daughters to Work Day. Knudsen works in the area of structural design and frequently uses design programs such as AutoCAD, Mathcad and Excel. Knudsen said that the ability to multitask (and work through naptime) is a key quality in an engineer.

“I am constantly having to jump not only between projects at work, but then also to change diapers, kiss boo-boos and blow noses. You need to be able to focus when there is an opportunity to get work done and make the most of those times. For example, naptime is a critical work period for me and sometimes I amaze myself at what I can accomplish in that couple of hours period of time.”

She also advised students to take time for the things they enjoy, even when life is hectic. “You have to take time to do some things you like. In the evenings, my husband and I both share the responsibility of cooking and cleaning up dinner, baths and bedtime rituals with the girls. Then we work out together and watch some TV or read. Date nights are my favorite night of the week. If you are organized and motivated, you can achieve balance in your life and it is a wonderful thing. I do not claim to be balanced like this all the time… I’m merely describing the moments when it all happens to work out right!”

Knudsen shared her experiences as a woman in civil engineering. “I work with my brother and my father, and they have always treated me and my mom and sister as equals in the business. Our clients are mostly men, and I have never felt demeaned or degraded by them because I am a woman. I have felt empowered and amazing!

“My husband met me as a career woman, so he has always been 100 percent supportive because he loves me for who I am. I was able to help put him through school, which was an amazing feeling for me. Since we both work full time, the evenings are comprised of us working together to get dinner on the table and put the girls to bed. There is no “his” or “hers” when it comes to keeping our house in order. It’s a wonderful thing when everyone is working together to create a home we can be proud of.”

Goal-setting and staying positive have greatly contributed to Knudsen’s success. “Write [goals] down and post them somewhere that you can see them often. Tell someone close to you so they can help you stay accountable. Work hard! Nothing can help you achieve your goals more than good old fashioned hard work. Most importantly, believe in yourself and stay positive.”