As an engineer who will be designing and constructing the buildings of the future, I can work to create safer and more secure infrastructure that the future of America will need.
As former senior Vice president at Southland Industries, Dave Peters was one of Southland's greatest contributors - not only with his technical innovations, but also with his passion for recruiting talented engineering students. After Dave passed away in 2011, the ASHRAE David C.J. Peters Scholarship was created to honor his accomplishments and dedication to rising young engineers. For several years, this scholarship has been awarded to some of the industries most promising engineering students.
This year, we had two scholarship winners, including Madeline Cramer, an architectural engineering student at the Pennsylvania State University.
How did you become interested in the construction industry?
[MC] I was exposed to residential construction at a young age through my father, but had not considered the construction industry as a potential career until touring the architectural engineering program at Penn State. My previous internships gave me the chance to grow and learn on construction sites and solidified my decision to make the world of construction my lifelong career.
What activities and/or associations are you involved in at school?
[MC] In my third year of school, I became involved with undergraduate research. Since then, I have worked under Dr. John Messner and have had the opportunity to learn a lot about the research side of the industry in the past year and a half. Additionally, I am a member of the Schreyer Honors College at school.
What are your favorite hobbies outside of school?
[MC] Outside of school, I like to work out and enjoy running, lifting, or training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I also love any type of creative endeavor and spend my study breaks painting, sewing, and baking. I even taught myself to knit in the last year. I have also started fly fishing recently, and while I am very much a novice, it has been a great outlet for relaxation when I need a break from studying.
What is your dream job?
[MC] With each new experience I've had the opportunity to explore in the industry, it seems a few more doors open, and the idea of my dream job expands and changes. I am still working towards understanding myself and where I feel my skillset will be best utilized in the future. However, I do know that my dream job is one where I get to serve others. I am my happiest when I am creating and innovating in ways that make the corners of the earth that I inhabit a bit better for those around me. I'm not sure where the world of engineering and construction will take me, but wherever I end up, I hope I never lose sight of finding ways to serve.
Who is your greatest influence?
[MC] My two older brothers have by far been two of my greatest influences. They have never failed to set the bar high, and, most often, have had nearly unachievable expectations for me. Whether it be in the gym, with my academics, or just the outcome of my latest baked good, they have never failed to push me to achieve more than whatever I had envisioned. I'm not sure who I would have become if not for their influences, and I feel forever indebted to them for helping me grow into the individual I am today.
What is the first thing you ever designed?
[MC] One of my family's favorite stories of my childhood adventures was the time I decided that I was going to become an inventor. On a summer day, when I was around eight years old, I came up with the idea to make decorative tape to be used in crafting projects. I felt that it was so important that I contacted an invention hotline that I had seen on TV. I drew different patterns, including what I envisioned the packaging to look like, and submitted my idea online. Little did I know, the company actually thought my idea was good, but made the mistake of calling during dinner. My mom informed them that I was eight and had no invention as she was unaware of the form I had submitted while she was at work. Since then, I have designed and created a variety of different projects, but my first design story will always be my favorite.
What are your goals to contribute to, shape, or change this industry?
[MC] With the current state of our nation, and the ever-increasing number of terroristic acts that occur, I hope to work towards designing and constructing infrastructure in ways that combat terrorism. I do not have the skillset to be a first responder in action, and was not called to be one of the brave men and women who risk their lives every day to keep our world safe. However, as an engineer who will be designing and constructing the buildings of the future, I can work to create safer and more secure infrastructure that the future of America will need.
What has excited you the most about the engineering field?
[MC] I think one of my favorite parts of engineering, and in particular the world of construction, is the number of people that I have the capability to affect every day. Whether it be a subcontractor, my boss, the owner of a multimillion-dollar project, or just a fellow intern like me, every day I have the ability to interact with and make my mark on people of all different backgrounds. Not only am I given the chance to affect the world through the work that I will engineer, but also the people that I get to work with every day.
What skills would you say are important for an engineer to have?
[MC] While I believe that there are hundreds of skills that are important for an engineer to possess, one of the skills I believe to be most important is to be observant. Engineering is being curious and observant of the world around us, even after the workday is over. Within the engineering field, I believe it is vital for growth to avoid becoming stagnant after the workday is over. This means staying in a constant state of observing the world and seeking answers to problems.
What new engineering skill have you acquired in the last year?
[MC] In the past year, I have been given countless opportunities to learn how to successfully take on the role of a team leader. While I have been given opportunities to lead teams over the entirety of my academic career, specifically in the past year, I have learned a lot about how to best leverage the strengths of vastly different team members and how to manage many moving parts of a project. While there have certainly been some long nights in the mix of taking on a leadership role in the classroom, I am grateful for the resulting lessons learned and growth.
As a Marketing Specialist for Southland Industries, Alexandra Michael helps develop, manage, execute, and monitor marketing programs across a variety of media channels. She generates ideas, content, and analyzes trends to help define Southland's marketing strategy.Read Full Bio
As an MEP building systems expert, Southland Industries provides integrated, full lifecycle solutions that optimize the design, construction, operation, and efficiency of buildings. Through collaborative partnerships with our clients and the collective expertise of our people, we create premier built environments and future-ready spaces where communities and businesses can thrive.