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UWyo Magazine
University of Wyoming
Dept. 3226
1000 East University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
Phone: 307-766-2379
TTY: 307-766-6729
Email: uwyomag@uwyo.edu

UWyo Magazine

January 2015 | Vol. 16 No. 2

On the Job

Meet 10 College of Engineering and Applied Science graduates working at some of the nation’s top companies.

By Micaela Myers

STEM: Science, technology, engineering and math fields are quickly growing, and with that growth comes a demand for STEM graduates. We caught up with 10 University of Wyoming College of Engineering and Applied Science graduates who graduated within the past 17 years, the majority recent graduates, and found them working at some of the nation’s top companies. Find out what they love about their profession and how UW helped them succeed.


Christine Sednek - Environmental Engineering, M.S. (’12)
Job: Engineer in training, Burns & McDonnell, Centennial, Colo.
Hometown: Kersey, Colo.
Fun Fact: “I love training my dog, and I’ve started training her for bird hunting.”
Work and School: “I work with designing water and wastewater facilities. I like that it’s challenging and that it’s serving communities with clean water and treating their wastewater.
    “UW made me very thorough with my work, and that helped prepare me and make me better at what I do now. They also prepared me to be creative and open minded. It’s nice to have the balance of both.
    “A standout experience at UW was doing research and collaborating with various departments. The access to amazing testing devices within the departments was just phenomenal. I really liked the community there and their support for collaboration.”


Dylan Mair - Chemical Engineering, B.S. (’12)
Job: Production engineer, Encana Corp., Denver, Colo.
Hometown: Mountain View, Wyo.
Fun Fact: “My wife also works at Encana. Between all the work talk, we both like to weld, and we’ll compete.” Mair’s wife, Carla, was one of the first graduates from UW’s School of Energy Resources.
Work and School: “I love to contribute to a team that produces oil. The most challenging part is that there’s always something we can do better. The biggest thing for a production engineer is to get to know your wells and get to know how they’re doing and how to recognize a change and do diagnostics to catch problems early.
    “At UW, there were professors who came from industry and brought an industry perspective to their classes. Also, just being in the state exposed us to a lot of opportunities in the summer to go out into the field and get our boots on the ground. I worked as a roustabout one summer building compressor stations. Another summer I had a great opportunity with Legacy Reserves LP to be a pumper. I also had a good internship with Encana on the natural gas economy team.
    “I like to talk to high school students who enjoy working with their hands but are wondering if they have what it takes to become an engineer and say, ‘Do it!’ ”


Kendra Williams - Petroleum Engineering, B.S. (’12)
Job: Drilling engineer, Hess Corp., Houston, Texas
Hometown: Pinedale, Wyo.
Fun Fact: “I have only ever lived in Wyoming until I moved to Houston for my job. Every time I meet someone new, they ask me if I am from Canada!”
Work and School: “What makes my job enjoyable is the fast pace. We are averaging less than 20 days per well we drill and strive to operate more efficiently while still being focused on safely executing operations. This provides many opportunities to test new technologies and learn a lot in a short amount of time.
    “UW provided a very strong theoretical foundation of petroleum engineering sciences. This theoretical background has been crucial for me to help relate technical aspects of my job to what should happen at any given moment. Because of the wide array of courses that are in the core petroleum curriculum, I am able to interact with many different disciplines of people in my company and feel comfortable in my background.
    “I was an active member in the Society of Petroleum Engineers and American Association of Drilling Engineers student chapters. I was able to participate in field trips, get to know the professors in the department and develop strong relationships with my fellow classmates. I had a great 4.5 years at UW!”


Neal Sample - Computer Science, B.S. (’96) and M.S. (’98)
Job: President, enterprise growth, American Express Co., New York, N.Y.
Hometown: Longmont, Colo.
Fun Fact: “I am the best foosball player who you’ve ever met in real life.”
Work and School: “I was recently appointed as president of enterprise growth, a division within American Express that is leveraging emerging technologies to reach new customer segments and geographies, with a particular focus on fostering greater financial inclusion. I oversee the Serve software platform and new alternative payment products such as Bluebird and American Express Serve, as well as American Express Ventures and the company’s $100 million Digital Commerce Initiative, focused on investing in early stage startups. I love the fact that I get to use all of the skills I learned in college and am able to apply my knowledge in computer science to something that can help do a bit of good in the world.”
    Before joining American Express, Sample earned a doctorate at Stanford University and worked at Yahoo Inc. and eBay Inc. “I’d say the education I got at UW was the richest four to six years of my life in terms of learning. I spent a lot of time on the UW debate team and won the national debating championship in 1995, which was made possible by UW creating the opportunity for someone like me to come in as a scholarship student and really earn my way through school while having a great time and ultimately being very successful doing so.”


Madeleine Adler - Atmospheric Science, M.S. (’04)
Job: Lieutenant commander, field recruiting officer, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Commissioned Officer Corps, Silver Spring, Md.
Hometown: Centerport, N.Y.
Fun Fact: “I think it is important to give back. Each time I relocate, I find a local food bank or soup kitchen to volunteer with.”
Work and School: “I enjoy meeting different people and experiencing new places. Being a part of cutting-edge science while out in the middle of the ocean without another vessel in sight is something I wish everyone could experience. I am passionate about NOAA’s mission and am serving the country at the same time.
    “The professors in the UW Department of Atmospheric Science taught me how to understand earth and atmospheric systems. Professor Jefferson Snider taught me every aspect of how to do research, the importance of attention to detail, procedures and quality assurance. Additionally, having a master’s degree made my application for NOAA Corps more competitive.
    “Several professors, as well as the associates in the main office, became mentors and friends. There was an atmosphere of excellence and professionalism. People pushed you to do well but helped you if you struggled.
    “In Wyoming, I learned to climb, cross-country ski and snowboard. Everyone was nice, and everyone wanted me to love the state as much as they did.”


Michael Bruch - Mechanical Engineering, B.S. (’96), and Electrical Engineering, M.S. (’98)
Job: Chief engineer for robotics, U.S. Navy SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific, San Diego, Calif.
Hometown: Lusk, Wyo.
Fun Fact: “As a native Wyomingite, I’m a rare breed of cowboy in Southern California, but ironically my next door neighbor, a native San Diegan, was on the UW ski team during the same time as I was at UW!”
Work and School: “I enjoy the ability to be innovative and develop creative solutions to new problems. The variety of work that comes from developing unmanned and autonomous systems requires a multi-disciplinary team and presents new challenges every day. It’s also just plain fun to see something you build driving around on its own.
    “UW was a fantastic stepping stone for me into the career I have today. I think UW has the perfect combination of world-class education and professors along with a small size that allows the students to know their professors personally and vice versa. That close relationship between the faculty and students provides a much more personalized and rich learning experience, in my opinion.
    “I enjoyed being involved with the engineering societies such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Tau Beta Pi, but I also really enjoyed my involvement in some of the university-wide groups and societies, and the opportunity they afforded me in getting to know students all across campus.”


Keith Herring - Petroleum Engineering, B.S. (’14)
Job: Graduate engineer, ConocoPhillips Inc., Anchorage, Alaska
Hometown: Encampment, Wyo.
Fun Fact: “When I was younger, I loved to fish. Now that I’m here in the fishing mecca of the world, that’s something I hope to be able to enjoy with my family.”
Work and School: “One of the most challenging aspects of working in an older oil field is developing viable economic solutions that will put oil in the pipeline. ConocoPhillips has an accelerated program for new engineers, and I recently completed my first role in the well integrity group and started a new role in the coiled tubing drilling development group. I enjoy learning all the new technology.”
    “I was a nontraditional student, with 10 years of experience in the drilling side of the industry. The petroleum engineering professors at UW helped prepare me to switch over to my role as an engineer and life after college.
    “My senior design project was a highlight in my college career, as my group won the outstanding petroleum engineering team award. I was the American Association of Drilling Engineers student chapter president, where I was able to work closely with fellow students and various company representatives. Part of my presidential duties included fundraising, helping students attend conferences and giving them opportunities to meet professionals within the industry. Go Pokes!”


Alicia Martin - Mechanical Engineering, B.S. (’11) and M.S. (’13)  
Job: Mechanical maintenance engineer, FMC Corp., Green River, Wyo.
Hometown: Evanston, Wyo.
Fun Fact: “Working has allowed me to become financially stable enough to pursue classic muscle cars and trucks as a hobby. The newest addition is a 1970 Dodge three-quarter-ton pickup.”
Work and School: “At FMC, it is critical to be able to quickly assess a situation and resolve an issue to keep the plant running. I enjoy the variety of equipment I am responsible for and being involved in root cause failure analysis, where I rely heavily on my materials science background and failure analysis skills gained from the mechanical engineering program at UW.
    “UW’s reputation for a rigorous curriculum not only proved true but provided me with vital critical design and analysis skills that are essential in today’s competitive environment. The professional skills that I honed throughout my education are what landed me the job, as well as sustained me through it.  
    “Working on my thesis project in collaboration with experts around the globe was an invaluable experience. I not only worked on an interesting and challenging project, but I learned the thought processes and project development procedures from accomplished doctors and research scientists.”


Brittni Emery - Atmospheric Science, M.S. (’13)
Job: Air quality meteorologist, Inter-Mountain Labs Inc., Sheridan, Wyo.
Hometown: Montevideo, Minn.
Fun Fact: “When I was a teenager, I wanted to be an astronaut so bad that I wrote a letter to NASA asking if they needed any teenagers to volunteer to go into space. Needless to say, I received a nice letter back saying that they did not require my services at that time.”
Work and School: “The variety of my job makes it fun. Sometimes I am working with data; other times I am out in the field fixing our air sampling equipment. As a person with a background in meteorology, I particularly enjoy working in air quality because it impacts both industry and the individual.
    “The UW Department of Atmospheric Science has a top-notch program. The classes were excellent, but it was the fieldwork that really prepared me for what I am doing now. Working with my adviser on his research, then branching out on my own helped prepare me for the real world. I learned that in research, as in life, there is not always one right answer, and you have to be able to work out your best solution.
    “A standout experience for me was starting the International Justice Mission student chapter at UW. I had the opportunity to work with many capable and ambitious undergraduate students to put on great events to raise awareness about human trafficking and to help pass legislation that officially defined human trafficking as a crime in Wyoming.”


John Greff - Petroleum Engineering, B.S. (’14)
Job: Reservoir engineer, BP PLC, Houston, Texas
Hometown: Riverton, Wyo.
Fun Fact: “All of my previous experience dealt with onshore natural gas. Now that I’m with BP, I’m working with offshore deep water oil. I will probably get to go to Brazil in the next year. It’s a pretty amazing opportunity.”
Work and School:  “We’re always discovering new fields and new technologies. I worked in natural gas fields in high school, and I’ve always had an interest in it.
    “I definitely would not have gotten this job had I not gone to UW. I feel like I’m every bit as prepared as my co-workers who went to different programs. Being involved in the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the American Association of Drilling Engineers, the two student societies, along with my professors, had the biggest impact. At UW, we have exceptional professors. In the societies, we brought in speakers to give a broader understanding of the industry."

Job Connections

Engineers are in high demand, and Ann Jones, assistant director for career services at the University of Wyoming, says many companies look forward to recruiting UW students at the two yearly STEM job fairs.

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UWyo Magazine
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Dept. 3226
1000 East University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
Phone: 307-766-2379
TTY: 307-766-6729
Email: uwyomag@uwyo.edu

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