When Nicole Amon was in the eighth grade, she attended a Women in STEM conference at Argonne National Laboratory, which started her interest in engineering.
“It grew to a certainty during my engineering classes in high school. I loved these classes and was always interested in the hands-on projects we worked on,” she said.
Amon was prepared to attend a four-year university. But her family talked her into selecting College of DuPage because other family members had previously attended, the tuition was reasonable and the Engineering program has a strong reputation.
“My family talked me out of what I now look back upon as a poor financial decision,” she said. “I was reluctant to attend COD at first, but it turned out to be the best choice because of the great opportunities I’ve had going here. COD has amazing resources and a fantastic community surrounding it, which allowed me to connect to a great variety of people. Student life events gave me the opportunity to work with other student leaders, while the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) introduced me to other female students studying engineering.”
Amon also received several scholarships through the College of DuPage Foundation, including the STEM Student Scholarship, Donald B. Carter Memorial Engineering Scholarship and the H.J. Kleemann Engineering Scholarship.
In 2017, Amon participated in a summer internship at Argonne National Laboratory, something she didn’t expect to land so early in her college career.
“When I first started, I was nervous and afraid I would make a mistake,” she said. “But our supervisors were very supportive and set such an example that we wanted to be the best for them. With their guidance, I was always where I needed to be and they have truly helped me grow as an individual in the professional environment. It’s crazy what you can achieve when you put your mind to it.”
After finishing her Associate in Engineering Science degree, Amon transferred to the Illinois Institute of Technology, having received the Transfer Scholarship, STEM Scholarship and Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship. She is enrolled in the co-terminal program that will allow her to earn a bachelor’s degree in two years and then a master’s in Mechanical Engineering after her third year.
While at IIT, she is part of a team competing in the Green Energy Challenge, for which they wrote a proposal for how a hospital could achieve net zero efficiency. The project placed third and the team will present it at the upcoming national competition. Amon is also on the executive board for IIT’s SWE chapter and enjoyed a summer internship at BP as a data integrity engineer, where some of her projects included using drone technology and geographical information systems (GIS) to map pipelines data.
Amon would like to continue toward a Ph.D. in order to learn as much as possible about the engineering field. She initially was interested in doing research on renewable energy or working hands-on in the industry, but after attending a STEMinar lecture at COD, Amon wants to investigate a very specific career path working at Walt Disney World.
“The Disney College Program has an engineering class that I would like to apply for in the future so that I can pursue an opportunity for a career with Disney,” she said.
Wherever her career leads, Amon is happy with the strong education she is receiving at College of DuPage.
“This a great place to start out your education to become an engineer,” she said. “The engineering professors here are fantastic, and I would suggest joining the Society of Women Engineers as well as the Engineering and Technology Club. In classes, it is not always the easiest to meet and talk to other peers, and these organizations allow you to connect and even form study groups to help with your classes.
“COD has so many opportunities that can be taken for granted or ignored, so students should take advantage of what is offered. For example, prior to starting at College of DuPage, I was completely unaware of internships even being part of a community college education. But engineering students can apply for Community College Internships (CCI) for Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab. I also cannot think of a time when I regretted an event I attended at COD, so I recommend that students take in as many events and STEMinars as possible. There are also a variety of scholarships offered so prospective students should know about this great financial resource.”