Meet Alison Kennicutt, PhD
What area of civil engineering are you passionate about and how do you incorporate this into your classes with students?
I specialize in the environmental engineering component of civil engineering, which is aimed at protecting human and environmental health. In my sophomore-level course, we explore a few different areas of environmental engineering. We look at pollutants and how their chemical properties will impact where they are found in the environment and students are given an introduction to wastewater and drinking water treatment processes, air pollution, and solid waste management.
As a woman in a male-dominated field, how do you advocate for more women to enter the engineering field and how have women historically stood out or made a difference in the field?
Throughout my career, as a student and as a professional, I have been lucky to have some wonderful female mentors, peers, and colleagues—their passion is contagious and their support is unwavering. Having those kinds of relationships throughout your career as an engineer is essential, especially as a woman.
I aim to provide that same encouragement to my students, and to have them continue to pay it forward. I am an active member in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a volunteer advisor for Alpha Omega Epsilon, an international sorority aimed at supporting women in engineering and technical sciences. YCP has a newly recognized Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) club, founded by Dr. Inci Ruzybayev, that creates a safe space for our students to share their experiences.
With the current global pandemic, how have you redesigned your curriculum to continue classes remotely?
The shift to remote learning was definitely sudden and required a significant amount of flexibility as we all made the necessary adjustments. It was most important to me that my students did not feel like they were missing out on learning opportunities.
After a few weeks of trying different lesson styles, gathering some input from students along the way, we settled into a routine that was able to provide a sense of “normal” for the students who wanted to try and capture the in-person classroom vibe, but still allowed for asynchronous learning for those that needed/preferred it. We made it work for us, and I think “we” is really an important part of that statement—the students really stepped up and met me in the middle to help make our remote classes as successful as possible.