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No time wasted on way to engineering degree

May 04, 2010

Christine Parsons seems deserving of a degree in time management in addition to the one she’s getting in chemical engineering this spring.

She says the time it took to maintain a perfect 4.0 grade point average during her four years as an undergraduate in Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and to fulfill the added academic requirements of also being in ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College, kept her more than busy.

Somehow, though, Parsons found time outside of studies to work with Navigators, a Christian community-service club, take part in an undergraduate research program for five semesters, and be an active member of the ASU student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

She also worked summer engineering internships at two major companies. She mentored younger undergraduates in the honors college program and the Barack Obama Scholarship Program, and helped with recruitment efforts for the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative and the School of Mechanical, Aerospace, Chemical and Materials Engineering.

Oh, and she also kept up her athletic skills by playing on intramural, club and recreational league soccer teams.

The Vancouver, Wash., native says the work ethic runs in the family. Her father is a mechanical engineer and a math teacher. Her mother has a degree in chemical engineering and directs a company engineering team, and her brother is an electrical engineer.

"There was a focus on learning and achieving," Parsons said.

She was able to come to ASU by earning a National Merit Scholarship, and has crowned her list of achievements by winning the Chemical Engineering Senior of the Year Award for 2010.

More than the honors, Parsons said she is pleased by her "awesome" undergraduate experience.

"The quality of the education I got here was excellent," she said. "The hands-on lab classes and the chance to do real research have been great."

Her teachers, she said, "taught us thoroughly on the technical side of things, and there was also emphasis on things like professional ethics and communications skills that are becoming more important for engineering careers."

Parsons will consider pursuing a master’s degree, but for now her undergraduate accomplishments have landed her a job with the energy division of a global company, where she will design and optimize oil-refinery processes.

Written by Joe Kullman