#Eweek2020 Spotlight | Allyn Jorgensen

STEM champion extraordinaire

For National Engineers Week 2020, we’re sharing stories from Cushing Terrell’s engineering talent to learn more about how they chose their profession and what makes them tick. 

What inspired you to become an engineer?

In high school, my mom took me to a seminar where a few women spoke about their engineering careers. I wasn’t exactly sure about a career at that time, but I liked math, physics, and taking things apart. What struck me was how engineers work on different projects all the time. It sounded like a career that would keep my interest and rarely be boring, which I think is very true!

What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?

I chose mechanical engineering after perusing the course catalog for Montana State University in Bozeman. I was interested in both civil and mechanical, so I entered college in general engineering since I wasn’t sure. I’m not a fan of chemistry and noticed that mechanical required one less chemistry course than civil, so that was the winner! I also had an internship one summer, which piqued my interest in HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) design. I really enjoyed that it was like a big puzzle, figuring out how to fit ductwork and piping throughout a building, and I still do.

Tell us something about the field of engineering that is surprising or not common knowledge.

Engineering is super broad; you can do so many different things. One of my engineering administrators in college said that an engineering degree doesn’t teach you how to do a specific career, it teaches you how to think and solve problems. You can take that anywhere.

People who work together, hike together. Allyn and colleagues at Swords Park Trail in Billings, Montana.

What is one of your favorite projects and why?

The Altana Federal Credit Union remodel on 24th Street in Billings was one of my first projects on my own, and I learned so much. I think we ended up having over 90 proposal requests by the end of the project. It seemed like for every area the contractor demolished, we would get a call about something that wasn’t supposed to be there, a surprise duct or structural beam for example. We had an amazing team, including my Cushing Terrell colleagues, the contractors, and the owner. I was so proud of how everyone worked together to overcome obstacles and achieve something great.

What piece of advice would you give a young person interested in becoming an engineer?

Adulting is hard, but it’s a little easier if you find a career you enjoy, which also pays well! Find something you enjoy doing, research careers near those interests, and take part in an internship. You’ll get a better idea of what’s actually involved in the work if you’re able to job shadow.

Are you involved in any activities that help engage students/young people in engineering?

I’m involved with STEM Yellowstone (previously STEM Billings). They organize outreach events on Saturdays throughout the school year so grade-school kids can try out different STEM activities. I’m also involved with MSU Billings Girls-in-Science, Newman Elementary Career Day, and other local events that help introduce students to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers.

Allyn and team members Stephanie Donovan (landscape architect), Mallory Johnson (design professional), Hollie Mellgren (structural engineer), Jennifer Parkhurst (mechanical engineer), and Colleen Smith (architect) volunteered at the MSU Billings Girls-in-Science event. They kept it cool with an with an HVAC-related activity where kids built their own “house,” which had to be insulated enough to keep an ice cube from melting.

Allyn at a glance

  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Living in Billings, Montana
  • Defining characteristics: Organized, determined, honest, impatient, sarcastic, caring, and a team player
  • Interests: I love doing all sorts of crafts, including crochet. I also enjoy the outdoors in Montana: fly-fishing, golfing, and skiing. I took up bow target shooting this year, too.

Read about the other engineers we’re highlighting for National Engineers Week 2020 as we roll out new profiles!