MSE alum reflects on her time at ISU

Anne Stockdale graduated from Iowa State with a degree in materials engineering in 2009, but the impact of her Iowa State experience will last a lifetime.

Going abroad, gaining focus

Stockdale took advantage of every opportunity presented to her at Iowa State; her curiosity paired with her academic drive led to her studying abroad three times during her five years at Iowa State.

“I grew up in a small town that lacked diversity,” Stockdale said. “When I came to college, I wanted to expand my horizons. Iowa State gave me the opportunity to go to different places and see different things.”

While attending Iowa State, Stockdale studied abroad in England, Russia and Mali. She credits these trips for shaping her as a person and a professional.

While studying in Mali, her focus was on sustainable engineering. Stockdale worked to strike a balance between improving cooking tools to make them more sustainable, safe and efficient while respecting the cultural traditions that surrounded cooking practices.

She said that while the work was challenging, study abroad trips like this allowed her to “disconnect, stop and think.” She was able to give each problem her undivided attention, a skill she said has served her well in her engineering career.

“My study abroad trips not only allowed me to study useful engineering topics but also to learn about cultures and people as a whole,” Stockdale said. “These trips taught me how to think objectively.”

Her travels didn’t end with studying abroad, Stockdale has now visited nearly 30 countries.

Supportive MSE community

While Stockdale’s Cyclone Engineering experience was full of valuable opportunities across the globe, she said the tight-knit Department of Materials Science and Engineering community on campus was what made her experience one of a kind.

She initially became interested in MSE due to the wide range of work that can be done with the degree but became passionate about it after experiencing the bond the MSE students had with their professors and each other at Iowa State.

Stockdale said she believes the MSE community at Iowa State is unique because they are all focused on one common goal: the success of the program and community. While attending Iowa State, she said it wasn’t a competition to be the most successful, but rather students were focused on bettering themselves and others.

“It felt like we are all in this together. Let’s succeed – one mission, one goal,” Stockdale said.

Stockdale served as the president of Material Advantage, a pre-professional society for students studying MSE. This position allowed her to continue the community building she saw throughout the program and participate in over 100 volunteer events.

Memories outside of the classroom

As for her favorite Iowa State memory, Stockdale reflected on something that happened outside of the classroom, outside of Iowa State’s campus. She said she distinctly remembers going to her old high school to present at an outreach event for the Iowa State College of Engineering.

“I was so excited to show my old classmates how happy I was to be studying at Iowa State,” Stockdale said. “I really enjoyed the day, but it wasn’t until a couple of years later that it meant much more.”

Six years later, a young woman who attended Stockdale’s demonstration reached out to Stockdale to tell her she was now graduating with her MSE degree from Iowa State because of Stockdale’s presentation.

“This was so meaningful to me. I’m so passionate about this field, and I was able to impact someone directly,” Stockdale said. “While I know you can’t reach everyone, I remember thinking I know I reached that one.”

Advice for students

 Stockdale is now a senior flight test manager at Northrop Grumman in California. She ended with impactful advice for engineering students.

“It’s not an easy adventure. It can be hard and challenging. That is normal. That’s what makes it great,” Stockdale said. “There will be times you’re wildly successful, and there will be times you’re not. Being able to understand and embrace the challenges will help make you better.”

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