College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Alyssa Marshall: Outstanding senior in electrical engineering

Alyssa Marshall
Alyssa Marshall

“I look forward to creating and designing new systems and equipment that do not exist yet. I look forward to being an engineering leader that can inspire the next generation of female engineers.”

Hometown: Bartlett, Illinois

What’s your favorite place on campus?

This semester I have enjoyed spending time in the Student Innovation Center. There are a lot of cozy spaces to relax, and some areas provide an ideal atmosphere to study. Also, I appreciate the student-run cafe Sparks when I need a coffee or a snack.

What’s your favorite memory of your time at Iowa State?

My favorite memories were when my study group gathered to work on homework or study for exams, where it evolved into a session of making jokes, telling stories and just hanging out. We often tried to put on music for focus, but it ended up either as singing sessions or dancing around the room. 

Who was your most influential mentor while at Iowa State and why?

My most influential mentor is Mani Mina, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and associate professor of industrial design. I was originally a student of Mina’s for EE 185 in the fall of my freshman year. From the spring semester of my freshman year until last spring, I have had the opportunity to serve as his peer mentor for the course. Professor Mina is a passionate and empathetic professor, and anyone who meets him will be able to tell that he profoundly cares about each student and their success.

Working with Professor Mina and his remarkable team of peer mentors over the past three years, I have grown personally and academically. I have learned unique ways to support and encourage fellow students. I have also learned that engineering is not about memorization or grades but about striving for knowledge and solving problems that come your way. It’s about being able to think critically and creatively. I am incredibly grateful I could be a part of Professor Mina’s team at Iowa State. 

Which of your hands-on learning opportunities was most valuable?

In the spring of my sophomore year, I accepted a co-op with Bemis Company as a Project Engineer. This role was the most valuable experience as it helped me identify what emphasis within electrical engineering I wanted to pursue. At this co-op, I was able to work on major capital projects where one project involved designing and updating an outdated resin conveying system. I was able to get hands-on experience of what systems and controls looked like in the field, and it helped me discover that I wanted to focus on systems and controls.

Toward the end of this co-op, I got great advice from a senior engineer. He said, “You can do systems engineering in any industry, find the one you are passionate about.” I took that advice and began going after system engineering opportunities in the defense industry. Because of this remarkable experience, my path within electrical engineering had a clear direction.  

What are your plans for after graduation?

Post-graduation, I will be an Engineering Leadership Program (ELP) engineer with General Dynamics Mission Systems in McLeansville, North Carolina. I will also pursue my master’s degree online in electrical engineering through Iowa State. 

What’s the mark you’re looking to leave on the world as an engineer?

I look forward to creating and designing new systems and equipment that do not exist yet. I look forward to being an engineering leader that can inspire the next generation of female engineers.  

What’s unique about the Cyclone Engineering student experience?

The engineering experience here at Iowa State is customizable. Students have the opportunity to make their engineering experience as involved as they want. There are vast academic resources to help you truly grasp the material of your courses. There are numerous engineering and non-engineering clubs and activities to choose from. There is a diversity of research you could be a part of or various jobs you could obtain on campus. An engineering student gets to decide what resources at Iowa State they want to use, so when they leave Iowa State they come out as a well-rounded and qualified engineer ready to take on the workforce.