Carnegie Mellon University

“I think my four years at Carnegie Mellon were some of the happiest years of my life,” says CEE graduate and structural engineer Jeffie Chang (BS’13, MS’14). “The friends I made there are still among my closest friends today. There was this camaraderie and really close, tight-knit environment in the CEE department that I was so grateful for.” 

Beyond her fellow classmates, Jeffie formed strong bonds with CEE faculty members—particularly with Larry Cartwright, whose fund (the Lawrence Cartwright Support Fund for Teaching Professors) she now donates to on a regular basis. While in school, Jeffie was one of Cartwright’s last work-study students before his retirement from teaching. She assisted with everything from building materials for his classes and labs to cleaning out concrete forms to restocking the soda machine. Even when the work was monotonous, talking with Cartwright was always entertaining. “It was just so much fun working with him,” she says. “Larry meant a lot to me, so that’s why I keep donating to his fund.” 

"I stay involved with CEE because I think it’s the right thing to do. Carnegie Mellon gave me so much and so many opportunities"

In addition to her donations to the department, Jeffie has stayed involved with the CEE department in other ways, including offering career mentorship and advice to current students. She has helped to talk students through things like what structural engineering is, what courses they should take, what to look out for, and even what not to do. In fall 2021, Jeffie will also give a presentation that’s open to all students in the department on what it means to be a structural engineer.

Carnegie Mellon helped to prepare Jeffie for her own engineering career—with strong technical knowledge and a solid foundation in the humanities and writing. “A lot of people think engineers don’t need to know how to speak or how to write well, but that is absolutely false. Technical writing was one of the most important classes I took,” she says. “The program requirements force students to have not just depth but breadth. Taking things like humanities courses helped me to become a more well-rounded person.”

Carnegie Mellon’s courses also fostered the development of her creative problem-solving skills, which she has been able to apply throughout her work with building renovations and adaptive reuse.

“I stay involved with CEE because I think it’s the right thing to do. Carnegie Mellon gave me so much and so many opportunities,” she reflects. “I was at my first job because of connections I had through Larry Cartwright and Carnegie Mellon, and I found my new role also through friends from Carnegie Mellon. You can’t place a value on those networks and opportunities, and it’s all tied around CMU.”