College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Building in progress: Career comes full-circle for industrial engineering alum Danelda Allen

Danelda Allen, industrial engineering alum '88
Danelda Allen, industrial engineering alum '88

For Danelda Allen (IE ’88), being assigned construction manager of the Therkildsen Industrial Engineering Building project on campus is a full-circle engineering moment.

When she moved to Ames in the late 70s, a career in engineering wasn’t even a consideration. It was becoming clear to her, however, her job as a secretary in Des Moines wasn’t where she wanted to be long term. Looking for something different, Allen enrolled as an adult student in classes at DMACC.

It was her physics professor who introduced the idea of studying engineering. At his persistent prompting and with additional encouragement from other great mentors and teachers at DMACC, Allen enrolled as an industrial engineering (IE) major at Iowa State University (ISU) in 1984.

Why industrial engineering? For Allen, it was the variety of potential jobs available to an IE graduate.

“I could paint with such a broad brush with an industrial engineering degree,” she says.

Allen models the varied career paths available to IE majors. Her first job was at 3M in process engineering. She later moved into a project engineering job at Burke Corporation, a subsidiary of Hormel Corporation.

There have been a few other jobs since in ethanol processing and the biopharmaceutical industry, but eventually all roads led to Allen’s current position as construction manager at Iowa State University. Seven years since her beginning at Iowa State, she is nearing retirement. Having her last large project assignment be the Therkildsen Industrial Engineering Building feels significant.

“College and universities have a higher calling,” says Allen. “We are giving back to students and our state in a meaningful way.”

For Allen, being a part of the new department home for current and future IE graduates is a perfect, high note end to a rewarding IE career.

“I look forward to driving by the new building and knowing I had a part in it,” she says.