Student Finds Chemistry with Engineering Program
Kendall Niemann, a junior in the Cooperative Engineering Program at the University of St. Thomas, has her sights set on becoming a chemical engineer. She chose chemical engineering because chemistry has always been her favorite science and because of the breadth of career options available in engineering.
The Houston native began her college career at the University of Southern California, but after a string of illnesses, was forced to return home to have her tonsils removed.
“While I was recovering from surgery, I had to spend the semester in Houston, and my parents had heard great things about UST,” Niemann said. “I came and toured the school with my dad, and everyone was super friendly. After my first semester here, I ended up falling in love with UST and decided to enroll in the cooperative engineering program.”
Now, Niemann manages a hectic schedule that includes class, homework and undergraduate research. This research, conducted with Dr. Birgit Mellis, assistant professor of physics, is rooted in nanotechnology and focuses on metal nano-particles and their biomedical applications. Niemann will present this research in April at a conference to be held in New Orleans, La.
Niemann tempers this demanding schedule with a strong sense of discipline and her Catholic faith.
“I am prepared because I know I will spend a lot of time in the library and will probably be studying all the time,” Niemann said. “Once you have accepted it, it gets exciting.”
This enthusiastic approach has served Niemann well, especially after deviating from the family profession. Both her parents, as well as her older brother, are accountants and expected she would continue the tradition.
“I am the black sheep, I went the other way,” said Niemann. “Engineering is different, but they were very accepting, and my dad is really excited. He jokes that he should go back to school to get this degree.”
Niemann would like to work in Houston, where petroleum engineering is in high demand and nanotechnology is a burgeoning industry, thanks to advancements in the Texas Medical Center. But for now, Niemann has her hopes set on South Bend, Ind., where she will complete the cooperative engineering program with UST partner, the University of Notre Dame.
“I really like that it is also a Catholic University,” Niemann said. “I didn’t realize how much I would appreciate it, but when I started at St. Thomas, I realized that I should have gone to a Catholic school from the start. It helps me in all areas of my life.”