Alumni Profile: Mackenzie Demkowicz
Position: Graduate Research Assistant 2009-2011
BS Civil Engineering, 2009
MS Civil Engineering
Mackenzie Demkowicz graduated from the University of Maine in 2009 with her degree in civil engineering. After talking with many of her undergraduate professors, she decided to return to the UMaine and pursue her Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering with a focus on structural engineering.
Part of that discussion was exploring research options at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, where Demkowicz was eager to expand on her focus in structural engineering with the composite arch bridge program.
“It was the combination of UMaine professors and the opportunities for research at the center that made me choose UMaine,” Demkowicz said. “I was very interested in composite arch bridge research and accepted a position when I learned I would be able to focus my graduate research on that project.”
As a graduate research assistant at the UMaine Composites Center, Demkowicz took part in research and testing pertaining to environmental durability of the composite arches that serve as the bridge’s superstructure.
Aside from the important technical elements of conducting research in the lab, Demkowicz says working with her undergraduate employees helped her develop important project management skills.
“My favorite experiences were working with other people in the lab and going out onsite to help with instrumentation of one of the composite arch bridges. I was lucky to have a great undergraduate employee – and friend – Heather Hayes on my project which definitely made the long days testing and processing data more exciting!”
Those long days and hard work introduced Demkowicz to other skills necessary to succeed in the private sector following graduation, ranging from project management to technical writing.
Currently, Demkowicz works as a structural engineer for VHB Inc., an infrastructure and engineering consulting company.
“Working at the center really helped me prepare for working a consulting firm by developing project management skills. It helped me with coordinating a project schedule and managing employees. Writing my thesis and progress reports helped me improve my technical writing.”
Demkowicz considers herself lucky to have worked at the center on such an innovative composite project. Her knowledge of composite materials that are used in structures have given her opportunities to build bridges themselves, as well as write grants to further composite research.
“Composite materials are being used more and more, and having the opportunity to work with and learn about the mechanics of composites at the Center has given me an edge in the field of engineering.”