Kirstie comes from a family of Hardrockers. Fourteen to be specific, including two alumni she also calls mom and dad. This Pittsburgh native always knew she’d call campus home, but her love of chemistry led her to a surprising major: metallurgical engineering.

“I’m a chemistry nerd, and it’s a perfect mix between math, science, and physics. Metallurgy has a ton of chemistry when you get into the upper-level classes. It’s all about structures, properties, and how a material, the alloy, or base elements affect base structure and how the metal performs.”

Beyond the books, it was the hands-on experience that got her hooked. With ample lab time and industry-grade equipment, Kirstie also credits her classmates’ passion with cementing her career choice.

Her enthusiasm for the field led her to a summer fit for a STEMinist, sampling molten metal, optimizing processes, and creating testing standards for Alcoa in Knoxville, Tennessee. Kirstie wasn’t fetching coffee or making copies, but completing real projects as an engineer – under the guidance of a familiar face. Her corporate mentor was an alumna and sorority sister.

Though South Dakota Mines’ network spans the globe, it never loses this personal touch.

That power of connection is a lesson Kirstie learned first in the Women in Science & Engineering (WiSE) program.

“WiSE has really made me better at reaching out to different people, especially being a WiSE mentor. Giving advice and guidance are skills you can take into the workplace when you’re meeting new people or working on a new project.”

That mix of soft skills and hard science earned her four job offers, well in advance of her graduation last May. Today, Kirstie’s working for Logan Aluminum in Kentucky and her family’s grown a bit. It now numbers around 18,000 – South Dakota Mines alumni and students who make anywhere in the world feel a little more like home.