College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Emma Ewert found her path in environmental engineering

Portrait of Emma Ewert with red and yellow accents.
Portrait of Emma Ewert with red and yellow accents.

I’m from a farming community in a state that is driven by agriculture, so I grew up knowing how land, water, sustainability and health are all connected. I also always knew I wanted to solve problems and help people be healthier.

But I took the long way to figuring out what major was the best one for me to reach that goal.

I found my path because the advisors that I’ve had have really cared about me and helped me figure out where I belonged.

A better fit

I actually started college at a small private school, studying public health and playing on their golf team. Even though I loved my sport, I realized pretty quickly that the college wasn’t the right fit and I transferred to Iowa State.

I transferred in as a chemistry major because I wanted to keep taking classes that were public health-oriented. I loved the chemistry courses, but when my advisor learned more about me and my plans for my future, she asked me if I’d checked out the engineering majors.

When I did, engineering made so much sense to me. Problem-solving that I can apply directly to what I’m learning. People come to me with an issue, and I can solve it.

An engineering advisor took some time digging into the aspects of each engineering major with me, and when I learned about environmental engineering, I knew it was for me.

Exploring interests

Environmental engineering is a new degree with a smaller community so those professors really know you. They want to hear your ideas because they’re excited to make sure you’re getting the best out of your education. They want you to do well.

An aspect of my curriculum that I love is the ability to explore interests without having to change your entire degree path with engineering topics and electives.

You get to choose what you are learning! I took a class called “Energy and the Environment,” and it was fascinating. The professor talked about mining, renewable energies, natural gas, and coal, and that was a class where I was just interested in learning more, and I wanted to go to it every day.

Creating community

I’m an introvert, but I became a student ambassador because if there is any way I can help a fellow transfer student or incoming first-year student find a place they feel welcome, I want to do it.

I get to show students that it’s okay to try different things before finding the right fit. Because my journey hasn’t been a straight line. There have been twists and turns, U-turns and backups. But once you find your right path, like I have, the path feels steady and right.