me-on-train-tracks-2Kathie Beckman is a Grand Challenge Scholar starting her junior year as an electrical engineering student. While most juniors in GCSP are working towards completing their program requirements within the next couple of years, Kathie can breathe a sigh of relief because she already completed them.

“I got quite a bit of a head start, largely thanks to the grand challenge course I took during the first semester of my freshman year,” Kathie explained. One of the assignments in the course is to discuss a professor’s research with them. The professor Kathie interviewed then offered her a position as a research aide. “That definitely gave me a head start on the program requirements,” Kathie continued.

From there, Kathie spent each semester with varying amounts of course loads. She noted that finding a good balance between taking on too much and taking on too little is key. “I think that people really do better work when they’re not perpetually stressed out, so figuring out what I can and can’t handle in one semester helped me manage my time more efficiently.”

By the fall of her sophomore year, Kathie began applying to internships. She was offered a summer internship in Honeywell’s Defense and Space Facility in Glendale, AZ where she worked with space exploration – which related to her grand challenge theme, tools for scientific discovery.

While at her internship, Kathie realized the importance of asking for help and stepping out of her comfort zone. She learned that as an intern, you’re not expected to know everything; it’s more beneficial to request help or clarification on something than to pretend that you know everything. “In reality, we’re not expected to know everything, and asking for clarification is always better than wasting time by having to backtrack later on due to a misunderstanding.” After working on projects with interns experienced in mechanical engineering, Kathie learned the importance of stepping out of one’s comfort zone to learn new things from different perspectives.