Katherine E. Durden

Katherine E. Durden
B.S. AE '16

What is your next adventure? I am moving to Herndon, VA, where I will work as a structural engineer II at ATA Engineering.

What are you most looking forward to in your next adventure? I'm excited to be returning to ATA, because I've gotten to know the people in that office. I did salsa dancing there, as well, so the social aspect looks good. But the thing that is most exciting is that now, I'll be going in as a full-time engineer. I'll be involved in projects that have a little more longevity. I am looking forward to working with the clients, directly, not just doing something for a few months and returning to school.

Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience that helped prepare you in this area? Yes. My freshman year, I knew I wanted to do research so I emailed every professor I could find...I ended up getting an offer to work under another undergraduate researcher who was working for Dr. Lieuwen in the combustion lab. Our big project focused on heat release distribution in a liquid fuel rig. I did whatever needed doing. By the end of two years, I was good at CAD work, wiring instrumentation, installing fuel lines, testing. Then I started working with a PhD student analyzing two different laser diagnostic methods...lately I've been looking for holes in the literature. I also knew I wanted to co-op freshman year, but the first few interviews told me to come back the next year, when I'd taken more classes. I was convinced there was a co-op where I could learn whatever I needed to know, so I kept looking. And It worked out. I ended up co-opping for ATA Engineering my freshman year. Now, I am returning to ATA as an employee.

What about your educational experience at GT-AE helped your to achieve your goals?Everything I fell into at Georgia Tech - my research, my co-ops, the opportunities to work with faculty - were incredibly valuable. I worked very hard here, but faculty took chances on me, when I knew nothing. 

What advice would you give someone who wanted to follow in your path? My approach to success has changed every semester. I came in very nervous about grades, and I can't say that was a bad thing. Grades matter. You don't want to fall behind. But I'd also tell someone that Georgia Tech is not a place to be taken lightly. You've got to work hard to take advantage ofeverything it has to offer. I did research. I joined the salsa club. I got involved in senior design. And, now, I have a group of friends who are going everywhere - Denver, Florida, DC, California - after graduation. I'm proud that I surrounded myself with people who said 'yes' to different challenges in their time at Tech, because I know life will present me with different challenges, too. It was good training.