Mandy Birnbaum headshot.

Air Force ROTC Cadet Studies Civil Engineering

In this Q&A from St. Thomas Engineer magazine, Mandy Birnbaum ’22 shared the best thing about the civil engineering major/program and more.

This Q&A is featured in the spring 2021 issue of St. Thomas Engineer.

Name: Mandy Birnbaum ’22

Hometown: Milaca, Minnesota

Major/minor: Civil engineering major, aerospace studies minor

Describe yourself in three words: Quirky, passionate and hardworking.

Why engineering at St. Thomas: I love old buildings and so chose civil as I wanted to restore old buildings. I sat in on a civil engineering presentation and after that, St. Thomas was where I wanted to go. I learned of St. Thomas as my brother came here, but I chose St. Thomas for myself because of the scholarship I received, the Catholic presence, and the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

One thing you would love to do: Backpack around the world.

Something most people wouldn’t know about you: I grew up raising sheep.

If you had the chance to have lunch with any three people you wish, whom would you invite? George Washington (I would love to hear one of his battle stories), Albert Einstein (I think it would be a really fun conversation) and St. Augustine (so I could learn more about my faith).

Best thing about the civil engineering major/program: There are so many opportunities. I also work in the civil engineering lab as an assistant; I do research with Dr. Rita Lederle. For class there are a lot of site visits, so you really get to learn about the many career fields within civil engineering. At St. Thomas, you really get to know the professors and that makes for a comfortable environment. I think this makes you learn more as the professors really do care that you do well.

Favorite engineering class so far: Surveying – as I got to spend several hours during class outside.

Engineering classes during COVID-19: One thing I liked is that I have unlimited access to lectures that are posted online. If I don’t catch something during the lecture, I can re-watch it as many times as I need.

Where to find you on a Sunday afternoon: Watching Netflix. I really like international
shows – currently am watching “Run On” from South Korea.