#ILookLikeAnEngineer: Stephanie Kreitler
1) Why did you decide to attend UConn Engineering?
I decided to attend UConn Engineering because the second I walked on campus I fell in love. I came here on my first and only college visit freshman year of high school, with my brother and cousin, to take the campus tour. They hated it, I loved it, and I could not imagine myself anywhere else.
2) When you’ve told people you were studying engineering, what kinds of looks or reactions have you gotten?
For me, I am studying civil engineering, which is a heavily male-dominated profession. When I tell people I study civil they first think it is some kind of philosophy. But then I correct myself and say civil engineering and I will usually get the wide eyes and people saying “Wow that’s great! It must be hard right?” I remember going to my interview for my first internship and they had to ask me if I would feel comfortable working in a male-dominated environment. Being at my internship I was actually the only girl on site and they had to make a special bathroom just for me! It was crazy to think about how much confidence I was able to gain from being in a meeting with all men and being the one to propose an idea and have them all agree or propose a better way to schedule and organize a process and have them say “Why haven’t I thought of that?”
3) Why did you decide to pursue engineering? Was there a specific moment or person who inspired you?
I decided to pursue engineering because I love math and science. I actually was going to go to school for teaching, but I decided to first come to school for engineering and then, if I want to, I can come back and learn to teach. My grandfather was also an engineer, so he was a big role model for me. Whenever I would go visit him, we would go into a discussion about something he was doing at work, a problem in the world that an engineer can fix, or he would ask me about a topic and say “well if you were an engineer you would be working with this kind of stuff.” So he was the one who gave me the big push in the right direction.
4) Tell us about your background. Where do you come from and what’s your family like?
I am from Shelton, Connecticut and I come from a middle-class family. My parents own a pie shop named Oronoque Farms which is known to have the best apple pie in Connecticut, so you could find any of the Kreitler kids at the pie shop. We are all hard working and we learned about what responsibility is at a young age. My parents were able to teach us skills with communication as well as problem-solving, because we not only learned how to use the cash register, take orders and bake pies, but we would also go out to multiple farmers markets and sell there too. We are also probably the most supportive family you know, going to every lacrosse game, volleyball game, or dance competition. My parents were always supportive of every decision we made and I could not have been more blessed to have such an amazing family that cares so much about each other.
5) What are your career goals?
My goal is to become a structural engineer. I love learning about the different forces acting on an object, and it just makes so much sense to me. With this, I want to go into some kind of testing for different materials or structures. I am currently looking to work for big companies like Sikorsky, Electric Boat, or a structural engineering company.
6) What’s your favorite experience been so far in your time at UConn Engineering?
My favorite experience at UConn Engineering is Engineering Ambassadors. We are an organization that helps to improve students here at UConn, and we go out to schools and educate kids about STEM and expose them at a young age. I love being a part of this group because they are full of the most amazing people I have ever met, and the goal is something that I strongly believe in. I wish that someone told me about STEM at a young age because I did not have any kind of exposure to engineering until I was a senior in high school. And even then, it wasn’t until I did the BRIDGE program that I had a full grasp about what it was that I would be studying for the next four years of my life.
7) If you could start over, and go back to your senior year of high school, do you think you still would have chosen to pursue engineering?
If I could start over I know I would choose this as my career path. I loved what I learned then, and I’m loving what I am learning now. I don’t think I would change a thing!