#Eweek2020 Spotlight | Hollie Mellgren

Enjoys the journey, and the finish line

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?

This may be a recurring theme with engineers, but my inspiration came from an interest in math, particularly calculus (yes, it’s true). Finding myself understanding math, with the help of an amazing teacher, was a great accomplishment in my mind. I loved the challenge.

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

I landed in the civil engineering realm because I wanted to stay in Montana and knew it would lead to a positive job outlook. From civil, I found myself favoring structural engineering because it presented unique challenges that I thought would be fun to solve. In my field, we’re focused on ensuring structures are safe and capable of withstanding the elements.

A view of what structural engineering looks like from the interior of a building — this is the Sheridan College Mars Agricultural Center in Wyoming.

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

With structural engineering, you have to be in tune with nature. The weather and geology in a particular area has an impact your choice of materials and the overall design. For example, dealing with extreme wind loading in one part of the country presents an entirely different situation than designing structures in snow country.

Additionally, across the U.S., the field of structural engineering is practiced somewhat differently. Drawings that come from Cushing Terrell generally have connections that are designed by the engineer of record, while engineering companies located in the eastern part of the country will often send their drawings to a specialty connection designer.

What is one of your favorite projects and why?

The Altana Federal Credit Union located in the Billings Heights. The project quickly became my favorite because of how well the team worked together.  Everyone from the designers to the contractor functioned as a team and it showed. Take a look:

Hollie was part of the engineering team for the 9,000 sq. ft. Heights branch of the Altana Federal Credit Union in Billings, Montana.

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

Start early. Getting into engineering can be easier if you take advanced placement or early college level courses in high school. Math and science are generally the most useful. Advanced placement can set you ahead and make college life much more manageable when faced with upper level classes that can consume a great deal of time.

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

Yes! I participate in community events for aspiring engineers regularly. Typically they’re geared toward grade-school through middle-school-aged kids. One event in particular is Girls-in-Science hosted annually by MSU in Billings. I also join my engineering buddy, Allyn Jorgensen, volunteering with a group called STEM Yellowstone, which is a collaboration between the school district and local businesses to provide engaging, educational activities for kids.

Hollie at a glance

  • Structural Engineer
  • Living in Billings, Montana
  • Defining characteristics: Logical, loyal, kind, quiet
  • Interests: Golfing; spending time with family, friends, and my pup; and running (including the Montana (half) Marathon and the Spartan Race. 
Hollie (fourth from the left) high stepping it over burning coals to make it with her team mates to the finish line of the 2019 Spartan Race.

Read about the other engineers we’re highlighting for National Engineers Week 2020!