Kate Christiansen has always known how important engineering is and has made it a goal in life to help others see it too. That’s why she is the College of Engineering’s 2023 valedictorian.
Christiansen’s love for engineering began after a showing of a film she saw at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The film, titled “Dream Big: Engineering Our World,” explores the human ingenuity behind engineering marvels big and small and reveals the heart that drives engineers to create better lives for all.
“That trip really changed things for me,” she said. “Suddenly it was like, ‘Wow! I know what I want to do with my life now.’ It was a very special feeling.”
Christiansen’s Aggie story begins and ends with engineering. As an undergrad in civil engineering, her curiosity about how things are built led her to join the American Society of Civil Engineers, where she served as the vice president. Her degree in civil engineering also inspired her to design a bridge for her senior design project and steered her undergraduate research toward the maintenance of porous concrete.
Christiansen participated in the ASCE concrete canoe competition in Las Vegas and the American Concrete Institute concrete bowling ball competition in San Francisco. She was even an ambassador for the College of Engineering, an undergraduate teaching fellow, an Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities grant recipient and a member of the Engineering Council.
Come fall, Christiansen will begin her graduate studies in structural engineering, advised by Andrew Sorensen. She has many fond memories from her time at Utah State, including countless online lectures through a global pandemic, cheering on the Aggies at football and basketball games and attending classic Aggie events such as Poetry and a Beverage, the Sweater Swap, the Homecoming Parade and more.
She is thankful for all the difficult study sessions, long hours inside the engineering atrium, and the 25 cent donuts provided by the engineering advising office. It was all worth it, however, because Christiansen will graduate with a GPA of 4.0.
“It’s important to remember who else helped me get here,” she said. “My parents, siblings, grandparents, professors, mentors and friends have all contributed greatly to my Aggie experience. I’m so thankful for them.”
In addition to being named valedictorian, Christiansen was named one of the college’s outstanding seniors in 2023 and an outstanding pre-professional in 2021. She also will graduate with a minor in music studies.
“Engineering is so inspiring and incredible,” Christiansen said. “I’m so happy I could have these amazing experiences at Utah State. I’m proud to be an Aggie.”
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