Rear admiral encourages engineers

Elizabeth Polsdofer

For Katherine Gregory, the civil, construction and environmental engineering program at Iowa State is not just for teaching students how to build roads, bridges and stadiums. It’s also for building a better future globally. As a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, engineering jumps out of the page in a big way for Gregory, and she is not afraid to let ISU students know it.

“Iowa State is known for having the nation’s strongest and oldest construction engineering program, and I feel very strongly about that. I think it’s a great program, and I think it’s important to support these programs and encourage them,” Gregory said. “We need engineers to lead our world into the future.”

Gregory is the first speaker in a series of civil, construction and environmental engineering lectures called the Jellinger Lecture Series. Paul Francois, the chair of the outreach committee for the construction engineering advisory council board, said the Jellinger series is a place for students to network with professionals as well as attend thought-provoking lectures in engineering.

“Engineering in the Navy: Contingencies to Construction” was the official title of the first Jellinger and discussed the diversity of work performed by the Navy.

“I think there’s a misconception about military in general,” said Beth Hartmann, lecturer in civil, construction and environmental engineering. “It’s not all about fighting. There are a lot of peacekeeping and humanitarian things that are happening around the world that our government helps to do and facilitate.”

Hartmann served as a civil engineer for the Navy, and works to recruit students into the collegiate civil engineering corp, a competitive academic program where students are paid $2,400 a month to study civil engineering and become officers in the navy after graduation.

“You will get more responsibility earlier in the Navy Civil Engineer Corps than you will in the average construction company or average civil engineering firm,” Hartmann said. “There’s other programs to get to Navy besides ROTC and the Naval Academy.”

During her lecture, Gregory spoke about the importance of humanitarian efforts such as aid in natural disasters and building civil buildings like schools and hospitals.

“The more people understand about what engineers do for our nation, and understand what the Navy does for our nation, the more people will be inclined to be engineers or maybe serve in the military, both of which I think are important,” Gregory said. “I think that if there is one thing our nation, maybe our world, needs is engineers.”