BIG POTENTIAL: The hopes and aspirations of our engineering students are intriguing and as diverse as they are. No matter their backgrounds and majors, our students are here with a purpose: to make a BIG difference in people's lives.
Jordan Burchatz | Mitch Klein | Sydney Schaaf
Major/Minor: Civil Engineering
Hometown: Watertown, S.D.
Class Year/Graduation: Senior
BIG BEGINNINGS: Senior Mitch Klein describes his journey to civil engineering as the “typical story” of a student who excels at math and science and spent a childhood tinkering with equipment – tearing apart engines and then putting them back together. He also had an added advantage: his uncle is a civil engineer who provided Klein with a job shadowing opportunity in high school.
He was hooked. Living on the outskirts of Wahoo, Neb., and growing up around his grandparents’ dairy farm also gave Klein insights into the importance of water resources and environmental issues.
BIG OPPPORTUNITIES: During his UNL freshman year, he worked with JEO Consulting, spending the entire semester writing a spill prevention countermeasure plan.
“Looking back, I maybe wasn’t mature enough to get all the benefits from that experience,” he said, “but I definitely saw how engineering and what I’m learning is applied in the real world.”
Before his sophomore year, he spent the summer with his uncle’s company fixing draining tiles under wind turbines in western Iowa. He soon became crew leader, in charge of the massive back hoe.
“I spent a lot of time digging holes in my uncle’s yard figuring it out,” he recalled. Nicking the buried wiring is a costly fix, and Klein noted he passed that test sufficiently.
BIG LEADERSHIP: Klein’s calm and steady outlook, and strong faith, have helped him work his way into significant leadership positions within the college student body. He currently serves as president of eSAB (the engineering student advisory board), overseeing 35 main members along with additional committee members.
“I have lofty goals for eSAB, especially trying to get our students more involved in the college and in their identity as engineering students,” he said.
The group is creating opportunities for building community among the college’s students, along with activities for involvement. Prior to the Texas-Nebraska football game, eSAB hosted a car bash in front of the student union.
BIG ASPIRATONS: The group is also discussing a plan to design and paint departmental murals throughout the engineering complex this spring (especially to brighten the Scott Center and Nebraska Hall venues). Klein’s other impactful experiences outside of his major include a 10-day study abroad trip to Spain, along with active participation in the Newman Center (a UNL student organization for Catholic students) on campus. He recently returned from a weekend retreat he planned and directed for about 70 participants.
Klein said he works diligently to balance his priorities: school, faith, work, extracurricular activities, and some relaxation. He plans to graduate on the “4½ year plan” and then, who knows: “possibly graduate school, or a job, maybe going abroad. They all sound good.”