A Long (Short) Journey to My First JETC

By Sophia Gull, Guest Contributor  

Having just finished up my second year as a Buckeye at The Ohio State University, majoring in Civil Engineering, I look forward to the exciting opportunity of attending my first professional engineering conference this spring. Though my career as an engineer has barely begun, I have had a long term relationship with the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME). I am currently a student member and the organization has encouraged me to represent their student membership at the annual Joint Engineer Training Conference (JETC) in Kansas City, Mo.

I first had the pleasure of being introduced to SAME in eighth grade when I, as the grand prize winner of their science fair award, was invited to a Northern Virginia Post meeting to present my model rocket project to the members. Since receiving that honor, I continued to stay connected with the Northern Virginia Post, receiving a scholarship to attend the SAME/U.S. Army Engineering & Construction Camp in Vicksburg, Miss., as well as being selected twice as a recipient of the Post Scholarship for college students. Most recently, I was invited to participate as a student advisor in the SAME national effort to explore the creation of a virtual student chapter. Looking back on my eighth grade self (see picture below!) I never dreamed that SAME would give me as many opportunities as it has and, it certainly seems to be the gift that keeps on giving!


SAME has provided me with many great connections and networking opportunities. One connection I made even helped me get connected with Jacobs where I am interning for the second time this summer! In addition to this, one special contact in particular stands out. I met Dr. William Kilpatrick at my first Post Meeting and, through keeping in contact with him these past six years, he has become one of my most influential mentors. In fact, I first decided to attend JETC to support Dr. Kilpatrick just like he has supported me throughout the years. He is receiving the inaugural STEM Champion Award at this year’s conference.

Dr. Kilpatrick has written countless recommendations for me, and is the person I go to for professional advice and support whenever I need it. I was extremely honored when earlier this year he asked me to write a letter in support of his nomination for the STEM Champion Award he will receive at JETC. When I heard that he won, I was familiar with JETC but always thought it was something for established professionals rather than students. However, once I looked into JETC, I quickly realized that students are not only welcomed, but encouraged to attend. I knew I had to go! I am so proud to see the man that has kept an eye on my career, given advice and boosted me during midterms and finals, receive an award of his own for his great mentoring.

While, first and foremost, I am attending to support Dr. Kilpatrick, I am also thrilled for the opportunity to gain exposure to the industry and network as an up-and-coming professional. Today, I went online and finalized my schedule for this week, which was especially tough as every session seemed extremely interesting. As a second year intern at Jacobs, I am also extremely excited to see members of my firm present in the Innovation Theater on up and coming technology in the industry.

My schedule is set, my business cards are printed and my padfolio is ready! I even did a little shopping for some new professional clothes. Now I just have to pack and set every alarm I have for a very early morning flight. I look forward to seeing you in Kansas City very soon!

Sophia Gull is a Civil Engineering major at The Ohio State University.