"Engineering studies gave me a unique perspective as a designer, allowing me to think about the context of my work"
By Bryan Hay
Megan Schmidt ’17, a project engineer for Engineering & Land Planning Associates Inc. of High Bridge, N.J., works on site designs for a variety of residential, industrial, and public projects, always looking to incorporate green space in her designs.
She says her grounding in Lafayette’s Engineering Studies program equipped her with a broad perspective about what it takes to execute responsible designs and how they affect communities and the environment.
Please describe the firm you’re working for and your current position, and why you find your career fulfilling and meaningful.
I am a project engineer at Engineering & Land Planning. The company is a small multidisciplinary firm providing a range of services, including civil site design for commercial, residential, industrial, and public projects, landscape architecture, and environmental engineering. I find opportunities to work on public projects most fulfilling because I can play a role in designs that will strengthen communities and enhance access to quality green space.
How did engineering studies prepare you for your career?
Engineering studies gave me a unique perspective as a designer, allowing me to think about the context of my work. While the technical aspect of engineering is important, understanding that infrastructure is part of a larger context is critical to responsible design. I think about how our decisions as designers impact communities and the environment, how policies and economics guide these decisions, and how we can innovate traditional engineering approaches.
What led you to engineering studies and your decision to pair it with film and media studies?
I knew I wanted to have a true liberal arts education that included science and art. Engineering studies offered a flexibility that allowed me to engage with different areas of engineering and provided classes with fascinating perspectives. At the same time, I have a passion for film and storytelling. I knew that pairing the two majors would allow me to study science and art, but I had no idea that they would overlap in such an interesting way. At E&LP, I am able to tell engineering stories as part of the marketing team and to investigate the intersection of engineering with the natural and built environments.
If you had an opportunity to give a sales pitch to a student considering engineering studies, what would you say?
We’re looking at a world that changes rapidly every day. With these changes come the need to adapt design and apply forward thinking. We can’t look at engineering as an isolated discipline, and I think the lessons I learned as an engineering studies major forced me to step back and think critically about long-term consequences of design decisions made today.
Students with this interdisciplinary bachelor of arts degree are bridge builders between communities, translators across sectors, and future managers and leaders who understand engineering as a liberal art.