Every year, the National Society of Professional Engineers honors the hard work of engineers around the world during the annual Engineers Week held from February 21 – 27, 2021. This week is “dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers“. At Midrex, engineers are the backbone of our business and these teammates comprise a significant portion of our workforce. To honor their contributions and support the mission of Engineers Week, Midrex partnered with the Professional Engineers of North Carolina (PENC) and North Carolina State University (NCSU) to develop a mentorship program.
The goal of the program was to mentor an aspiring North Carolina State University engineer through education, networking, and guidance. Will Dempsey, Mark Britt, and Andrew Ruthenbeck, three tenured engineers at Midrex, provided the mentorship to North Carolina State University senior, Larissa Blankenship. “Mentoring is one of the most impactful ways you can give back as a professional.”, says Andrew Ruthenbeck. “A good mentor can offer that piece of advice in a critical moment that turns your career or education. It means a lot that Midrex is willing to give us the opportunity to mentor a college student getting ready to embark on their career”, Andrew continues. The program lasted 2 months and also included career advice from Midrex’s Director – Talent Development, Brandy Reese. “This is the first time Midrex has really done something like this with PENC”, says Brandy. “We are trying to build relationships with universities so that we can support young engineers who could be Midrex teammates one day”, she continues.
After the program concluded, we reached out to Larissa to learn how it helped her on her career journey to becoming an engineer.
Where do you go to school and what type of Engineering degree are you seeking?
I am a senior at North Carolina State University and I am majoring in Civil Engineering. I will be graduating in May 2021 and plan to apply to North Carolina State University for my master’s degree.
What made you want to become an Engineer?
I grew up in a family of engineers, so I have always known this was going to be my profession. My dad and brothers are Mechanical Engineers and I have few other relatives who are Civil Engineers. I realized early on that I enjoyed math and engineering was a practical way to apply math in the real world. Looking back, I am really happy that I made this decision.
What is your dream job, as an Engineer?
I am still deciding but right now, I am looking at either the design path or the sustainability path. If I went down the design path, I would want to get my master’s degree in Structural Engineering and then a job in design. If I went with sustainability, I would want to work closely with the LEED Association, which is a global recognized organization that rates the sustainability of a building. Currently, I am working on the LEED Green Associate Certification, which would be the first step to exploring this path.
What interested you most about engineering?
Specifically, for Civil Engineering, it’s a lot of stuff that most people don’t think about. For example, how does water get to your sink or what beams should be used to build a skyscraper. It’s the behind the scenes work that helps cities function.
What were you hoping to learn most from your mentorship with Midrex?
I joined this program through PENC to be paired with a company that could introduce me to engineers that would answer my questions, explain their roles and career paths, and help me sharpen my professional skills. The program is laid out in a way that students can “make it what they will” and it will be as beneficial as they make it. I wanted to build a connection with a Professional Engineer and have a contact to talk to through the beginning stages of my career.
What was the most valuable thing you learned from your mentorship with Midrex?
The most valuable aspect of this mentorship was learning about Will, Mark, and Andrew’s career paths and how they got to where they are now. It was helpful to understand their journeys to Midrex and the different experiences they have had. It really shows how far being an engineer will take you and that you can do a lot with this degree.