College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Have a voice at Iowa State – Engineer at ISU CCEE

Environment for listening and voicing ideas is crucial to graduate student’s Iowa State experience

Lauren Schwab wasn’t considering graduate school after she completed her undergraduate degree at Iowa State. But then she found a faculty mentor that was unique for a specific quality. Chris Rehmann, a professor of environmental engineering, listened to her ideas.

“There’s never a dull moment with him,” she laughs, explaining the research relationship she has with her advisor.

Schwab has sometimes been the lone woman in a room of engineers. Though far more women are choosing engineering as a profession than 25 years ago, women still are a minority in the male-dominated field. Moreover, a large percentage of female engineers –40 percent, according to 2014 research presented by the American Psychological Association — end up either leaving the field or never entering after earning a degree. That makes listening and respect crucial in ever-growing diverse team environments.

“Really, it is the feeling of respect when working on whatever project,” Schwab says of her lab group. “If you have a reason and something makes sense theoretically, we will totally run with it.”

Schwab, who is a doctoral student at ISU, is actively involved in research, CCEE Graduate Student Council and the organization of showcases and speaker presentations for graduate students in her home department of civil, construction and environmental engineering. Even so, when you ask her about her leadership experience, she’ll counter with something like this …

“Leadership is finding your own way.”

She also notes that not everyone needs to be a leader in the same way.

“I run around behind the scenes and set up a seminar series,” she says, as an example. “It’s how you choose to define leadership to yourself.”

Note: In May-July 2018, Iowa State University College of Engineering Communications is setting out to find the top reasons why graduate students choose to pursue their educations at ISU CCEE. “Engineer at ISU CCEE” is a video/written series featuring graduate students from ISU CCEE. Each student shares his or her unique reason for choosing Iowa State. Find out more about the graduate experience at ISU CCEE by following this series, “Engineer at ISU CCEE,” on our FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn accounts (Iowa State University Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering or ISUConE).