Q: Tell us a little about your background.
A: Hello! My name is Mary Kegelman and I am from Wilmington, Delaware. I grew up very interested in understanding how things worked from a physical and chemical perspective. I am specifically drawn to the interactions between water molecules, as I have been involved in water sports since I was very young. 

Q: Why did you settle on environmental engineering as an undergraduate major?
A: When I came to UD, my major was biomedical engineering. I chose this because I knew I wanted to be an engineer but was not sure what type. Biomedical sounded interesting, but I was not certain what I wanted yet. After two semesters in biomedical engineering, I decided the medical field was not where I wanted to spend the rest of my career. I began searching for a new major and explored the different types of engineering. Growing up exposed to water bodies and natural landscapes, it became clear that healthy water and air quality is essential for sustaining life and society. I felt compelled to use my mathematical and scientific abilities to reduce negative environmental impacts of human actions. Knowing this, I landed on environmental engineering!

Q: What was your senior thesis research on?
A: As a continuation of prior graduate student Kathryn Platt’s studies, I wrote my senior thesis on the remediation of soils contaminated by accidental releases of produced waters during oil and gas drilling. This research involved a visit to the Permian Basin in Midland, Texas! I was able to tour the oil extraction facility and better understand how, when, where and why accidental releases occur. This real-world experience helped me write my thesis with firsthand knowledge of the processes that I was discussing. 

Q: What did you find rewarding about completing a senior thesis?
A: The experience of writing a thesis clarified what subjects I enjoyed applying what I learned from my courses to real world phenomena. Successfully defending my thesis shortly before going into the consulting industry enhanced my professional confidence and experience. The challenge of my thesis made me stronger as a student and a young professional. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I am thrilled to be employed as a rotational engineer in KCI Technologies Engineer-in-Training program. I have successfully passed the Environmental FE Exam and have started my first rotation as a hydraulic engineer in Nashville, Tennessee. My next rotations include engineering consulting in Newark, Tampa and Houston!

Q: What did you do for fun outside of your studies?
A: I love all water sports! In the summer I enjoy surfing, wakeboarding and spending time at the pool or beach. During the colder months I like to ski and snowboard. You can also find me spending time in the local bookstore or with my best friend hiking!