Meet an Engineering Student

St. Thomas School of Engineering students come from all different backgrounds, cultures, and walks-of-life:

Meet Kao Soua Yang, an undergraduate student pursuing her bachelor's degree  in civil engineering at St. Thomas. 

Kao Soua Yang 550w civil engineering major

Name: Kao Soua Yang
Hometown: "Thailand. My family moved to Minnesota when I was seven."
Best thing about civil engineering at St. Thomas "It's new. It's exciting to be the first ones in the program. I also like building things."
You work at MnDOT. What do you do there? "I started working there the spring of my senior year in high school. I have worked in the design office, the traffic forecasting office and now I am back in the design office."
Describe yourself in three words:

"Hard-working, patient and loyal."

Something most people wouldn't know about you: "I'm funny."
Why choose engineering? "I was put into an engineering/STEM program in high school. I like math and I liked science, but didn't want to do either full-time and found that engineering was a good middle."
Why St. Thomas? "I started at Macalester but really wanted to do engineering and wanted to stay in the Twin Cities. I thought the University of Minnesota was too big."

Meet Chloe Weber, an undergraduate student pursuing her bachelor's degree with a double major in civil engineering and general business management at St. Thomas. Her expected graduation date is May 2020.

Chloe Weber - Civil Engineering major

Name: Chloe Weber
Hometown: Chanhassen, Minnesota
Favorite St. Thomas class: Engineering Graphics and Design
About St. Thomas: Chloe admits she only applied to St. Thomas. She loves the smaller class sizes and the campus. Her older sister is also a Tommie.
Chloe is excited about:

Going on the London Business Semester. She has already taken the engineering J-term study abroad trip to Rome.

Why she chose Civil Engineering: Chloe loves looking at and learning about bridges, so civil engineering was a logical choice for her.
She's a fan of: Mexican food, good music, her Boston Terriers, spending time outside and Kit Kats!
Who inspires her at St. Thomas: Dr. AnnMarie Thomas and Dr. Deb Besser. Chloe says they both have created incredible careers and are great role models. She is excited to be able to do research for both of her majors with these professors. They are some of her favorite people at St. Thomas.

Meet Megan McGill, a successful undergraduate student who completed her bachelor's degree in computer engineering with a double major in computer science at St. Thomas. She is St. Thomas' first graduate with a degree in computer engineering.

Megan McGill 550w computer engineering major

Name: Megan McGill 
Hometown: Dellwood, Minnesota
Undergraduate Degree: B.S. in Computer Engineering, University of St. Thomas, May 2015
How she chose her major: “I couldn't decide between mechanical and electrical engineering, so my dad flipped a coin, which made me first choose mechanical engineering. Then I took a class and fell in love with computer programming. Dr. Nepal told me of a new undergraduate degree program in computer engineering.”
Who inspires her:

“My parents, because they are very supportive, and St. Thomas professors - especially Dr. Patrick Jarvis and Dr. Kundan Nepal.”

She's a fan of: “Writing, running and music. I also like 'American Horror Story,' 'Doctor Who,' 'Criminal Minds' and 'Sherlock' on TV. My favorite book is A Tale of Two Cities.”
Favorite St. Thomas class:  “Object-Oriented Programming with Dr. Patrick Jarvis”
On computer programming:  “I chose it partially to challenge myself. I thought it was hard but interesting. I didn't grow up coding. However, I feel completely competent compared to students who did. I look at computers as learning another language.”
After graduation:  Megan started a job at Ameriprise Financial.

Meet Sam Wielgos, an accomplished undergraduate student pursuing his bachelor's in electrical engineering at St. Thomas. He will graduate as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force in May 2019.

Sam Wielgos BSEE student smiles 550w

Name: Sam Wielgos
Hometown: Plainfield, Illinois
Undergraduate Degree: B.S. in Electrical Engineering, University of St. Thomas, May 2019
Why he chose St. Thomas: “St. Thomas Air Force members are like family. The upperclassmen take care of the underclassmen. I hope to be an Air Force Pilot.”
Best thing about electrical engineering at St. Thomas: “I find electrical engineering to be very versatile, and the creativity is amazing. Introduction to Engineering was an excellent class that brough together creativity and knowledge. I also enjoyed Intro to Computer Science as it was fun to program, and the professor made the class fun.”
Theatrical productions:  “I loved theater in high school, so I took Introduction to Theater my first semester at St. Thomas. I found out I could earn extra credit by auditioning for shows, so I did and I was surprised to get a part. I played Tommy Cliffert in "The Cover of Life", Harvey Johnson in "Bye Bye Birdie" and a role in "On Air - A Return to Radio”.
Two things most people wouldn't know about Sam: Sam was homeschooled until high school. He was excited about taking flying lessons summer 2016.

Meet Michael Mack, a Navy veteran and transfer student who completed his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at St. Thomas. 

Michael Mack 550w - electrical engineering student - veteran and transfer student

Name: Michael Mack 
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Undergraduate Degree: B.S. in Electrical Engineering, University of St. Thomas, May 2018
Why engineering? “I have a background in electronics. I want to be an engineer to make the world a better place through problem-solving and innovation."
What are you researching?

“Developing a wearable device that identifies wrist positions that aggravate carpal tunnel syndrome and help prevent the worsening of associated symptoms.”

Who would you like to have lunch with? “Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein.”
Favorite St. Thomas class:  “It's hard to pick just one -- Microprocessor Design, Modern Physics or Optics.”
Why did you choose St. Thomas?  “I transferred from North Hennepin Community College. I chose St. Thomas over other engineering schools because I have questions and basically no one in 300-person classes asks questions. I wasn't sure I could go to St. Thomas, as I thought that I wouldn't want the debt that comes with a private school, but after meeting with (St. Thomas) Financial Aid and the veteran's office, I will graduate with zero debt.”
What is something people wouldn't know about you?  "I'm not from Minnesota, and I have served two active duty enlistments in the Navy."
How do you spend your Sunday afternoon?  "When I am not working on my Senior Design Project, I am spending time with my wife or researching new technologies."

Meet Lindsey Bollig, an undergraduate student who pursued her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at St. Thomas. She graduated in May 2017.
(Click on her picture below to view a YouTube video about her research project where she used 3D printers to create a better transformer.)

Lindsey Bollig Engineering 3D printer lab pose


Name: Lindsey Bollig
Hometown: Farmington, Minnesota
Undergraduate Degree: B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, University of St. Thomas, May 2017
Why she chose St. Thomas: “I liked that St. Thomas is close to my home, has a good reputation, small class sizes, and an excellent engineering program with lots of hands-on experience."
Why she chose to study engineering:

"I like solving problems, thinking creatively, and coming up with ways to improve systems. Engineering offers a wide range of opportunities for me to do all of these things."  

Best thing about her undergrad experience at St. Thomas: “The professors care so much about you. They go out of their way to make sure they are available to help you understand the material, whether that is in class asking questions or out of class in office hours.”
Highlights of her time at St. Thomas:  “Spending a J-term in Italy studying Roman Structures and Art. It was a great experience to not only be immersed into a new culture, but also seeing ancient engineering.”
Something most people wouldn't know about Lindsey: "I like to take road trips, especially in the fall, to go hiking and take photographs of nature."
She is looking forward to: "Using my engineering skills after graduation as I follow my passion into aerospace engineering. I hope to work with a company on projects that are at the cutting edge of technology in aviation."

Meet Rachel Gehlhar, a successful undergraduate student who pursued her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at St. Thomas. She graduated with honors spring 2016.

Gehlhar Rachel 550w

Name: Rachel Gehlhar 
Hometown: Hager City, Wisconsin
Undergraduate Degree: B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, University of St. Thomas, May 2016
Why she chose St. Thomas: “It was a last minute decision between St. Thomas and an engineering school in Michigan. I decided that I didn’t want the long drive, and there were a lot more companies to do internships with here in the Twin Cities.”
Why she chose to study engineering:

“I have always liked math, art and science. I think engineering is a great blend of using analytical and creative skills.”

Best thing about her undergrad experience at St. Thomas: “The professors. Dr. Jalkio helped me identify a research project the summer after my freshman year, and Dr. Thomas, Dr. Nelson- Cheeseman, Dr. Green and Dr. Baxter have all helped me in applying for graduate school even though I have never had some of them for a class. I am really grateful for their guidance, especially Dr. Thomas.”
Highlights of her St. Thomas student career:  “One – having an internship in Los Angeles last summer where I worked on the Long Now Clock – a clock that is supposed to last 10,000 years. It’s located in a mountain in Texas and powered with mechanical weight. Two – meeting a Stanford professor who told me about his research with jellyfish, which gave me an idea to use to write a research proposal for an NSF fellowship. Three – my team’s robot winning the Machine Design competition last spring.”

Meet Charlie Kiolbasa, a St. Thomas undergraduate student who completed his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in May 2015.

Charlie Kiolbasa

Name: Charlie Kiolbasa
Hometown: Stillwater, Minnesota
Undergraduate Degree: B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, University of St. Thomas.
Who inspires him: “My parents. I find my dad a very motivated person, as well as my grandfather, a Polish immigrant who fought in World War II and then went to medical school and became a doctor.”
He's a fan of: “Minnesota sports teams, most music (except the country genre), tubing on the St. Croix River, golfing and snowboarding.”
Research on 35W bridge collapse: “I worked to help research information on bridges in light of the 35W bridge collapse. I am working with Dr. Katherine Acton to help make labs for future engineering students using ANSYS, a modeling program which will show where a bridge under a certain load is the weakest and strongest.”.
What he has learned about the 35W bridge: “Up until the 35W bridge tragedy, gusset plates were thought to be the strongest part of a bridge. This failure was groundbreaking. The bridge failed because one particular gusset plate was underdesigned, and the stresses within this gusset plate resulted in a low factor of safety. If the plate had been made twice as thick, it shouldn't have failed.”
Favorite part of research work: “Working with Dr. Acton and learning to solve problems on my own.”
I am an engineer...: “who is always learning and solving problems, and knows each project means starting from scratch.”

Meet Angel Paucar, a first-generation undergraduate college student pursuing his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at St. Thomas. 

Angel Paucar 550w mechanical engineering major

Name: Angel Paucar
Hometown: Born in Brooklyn, New York, but Minneapolis is now his hometown.
Best thing about mechanical engineering at St. Thomas "I really enjoy the hands-on part. There are a lot of great people and the professors want to help you succeed."
Favorite St. Thomas class: "Machine Design. I learned a lot from Dr. Jennifer Holte. We learned how different systems work, and there was a lot of hands-on work."
Describe yourself in three words:

"Loyal, respectful and honest."

Something most people wouldn't know about you: "I enjoy working on cars. My dad has a shop."
What do you like to do on a Sunday afternoon? "Exercising - playing soccer or Ecua-volley (a sport from my heritage that's similar to volleyball)."
Why St. Thomas? "I applied to 10 schools. There was another school I liked in Michigan but it was farther away from Minneapolis, it is colder there and it was more expensive. I chose St. Thomas as it offered me the most financial aid. I have made great friends and there is a lot of support here."
Advice for other first-generation college students: "Meet the other first-generation students on campus. And for me - other minorities on campus. Other first-generation students had very helpful advice. Both of these things helped me make new friends."