Meredith Kirkmann

How did you become an engineer? 

I have always been interested in problem solving, and in transportation networks. Our family roadtrips used to involve long detours to travel over signature bridges when I was a young girl. This led me to the field of civil engineering. I attended the University of Maine, then came back for my MS degree while working as an engineer. I received my P.E. and went to work at MaineDOT, where it was rewarding to use both technical skills and problem solving skills to help maintain and build our state’s infrastructure as a geotechnical engineer and project manager.

Why Construction Technology? Why UMaine?

I love working in the construction field. Being outdoors on projects and building infrastructure that helps our community is fulfilling to me. It’s exciting to work with students who also love this work! The Construction Engineering Technology program emphasizes hands-on learning, and students work on real projects including our capstone class where students design and build projects for local organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Leonard’s Mills at the Maine Forest and Logging Museum, and Hirundo Wildlife Refuge. I love the group aspect of this work, building something for our community with our faculty and students.

What made you come to UMaine as a student and as a faculty?

I grew up in Orono, and chose UMaine because of its great engineering program, and because it made sense financially where my dad worked at UMaine. I came back as faculty to pay it forward to upcoming engineers, and because I really enjoy the engineering community here at UMaine, especially in my own department and school. It’s really rewarding to be working with so many people who are passionate about teaching and engineering.

What are you doing currently at UMaine?

I’m focusing on teaching and on diversity, equity, and inclusion in my own courses as a teacher, as well as across the curriculum of our department, and across UMaine. I’m also working on the RLE bridge week that will be piloted this summer for first and second year students! It’s an exciting new opportunity for incoming students to have a week-long experience before traditional classes start.

Some useful advice to prospective female students?

You belong here, and we need you in our community! I’m so glad that you are here to contribute.

I think this is so important for folks who don’t have a lot of examples of people like them in their classrooms, at their prospective places of employment, or as their teachers and mentors. This includes women, and other groups that are less visible in many engineering spaces. Your voice is SO important, and we need you. Diversity of all sorts improves engineering problem solving, makes us better engineers, and builds better solutions for our community.

I’d also say, it’s worth the effort spent finding the people who can support you – where you can talk about your worries, challenges, and concerns as well as  your accomplishments and successes. It takes effort to join clubs, reach out to study partners in your classes, and to seek out mentors in your teachers, but it’s definitely worth it and will be a huge help to you here and in the future.