In the Spotlight - Julie Truncali '21
When choosing my career path, I knew I wanted to do fulfilling work that would have a positive impact on the daily lives of people in their communities. I became interested in civil engineering because it allows creativity combined with technical work and provides the chance to see one’s efforts brought to life in the field. I was initially drawn to environmental engineering for the potential to develop solutions that safely and sustainably bring necessary natural resources to the public. As I took a variety of civil engineering courses at Stony Brook, however, I discovered my interest in structural engineering was deeper. The design, analysis, and construction involved in this discipline hold endless possibilities to create new and influential structures, whether they be bridges that connect people across distances or buildings where people spend a lot of their time.
In past summers, I have held internships that furthered my understanding of the versatility of civil engineering. Following my freshman and sophomore years, I gained experience in construction inspection and CAD as an intern at the New York State Bridge Authority. I designed a steel structure using AutoCAD Fusion and performed stress analysis to ensure its safety and stability. The structure now stands at Rip Van Winkle Bridge, supporting a restored antique fog bell on display. I also assisted inspectors on construction of the Empire State Trail at Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge to build a new piece of the walkway that spans New York State. This internship opened my perspective on the applications of civil engineering that I would continue to learn about in consequent years.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to work as a Civil Engineering Intern at Jacobs Engineering. This internship allowed me to see the roles of structural designers, introduced me to movable bridges, and confirmed my interest in structures. I worked on a design project of the Point-No-Point Railroad Bridge in New Jersey, calculating a precise check to balance the moving leaf of the bascule span about the center of rotation. I also worked on the rehabilitation of the Pulaski Skyway, a 3.5-mile-long truss bridge that opened in 1932, and I got the chance to visit the new Wittpenn vertical-lift bridge during construction. My internship at Jacobs illuminated the perfect congruence between theory and practice by giving real-world context to the concepts I have learned in school. The internship even went further to develop my knowledge of the evolving process of design.
I am also involved in my campus community through Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Since my sophomore year, I have become increasingly active in the organization, beginning with the Leaders & Learners mentoring program, moving up to extended executive board, and now holding the position of SWE President. At Stony Brook, SWE holds professional and social events to promote leadership development, prepare students for their careers, and foster an encouraging network of peers. We also perform educational outreach with local Girl Scout troops on Long Island, inviting them to “Discover STEM” through hands-on activities that will spark their interest in STEM at an early age. The organization has an incredible mission of empowering women to achieve our full potential as engineers, supporting us to pursue our passions in STEM, and aiming to give women a voice in the engineering industry. My involvement in SWE has even taken me to California for SWE’s National Conference, where I had the opportunity to network with representatives from global companies, participate in workshops, and meet inspiring women engineers.
Outside of class, I can almost always be found spending time outdoors, either running, hiking, or playing tennis. I also love to cook, and I enjoy trying out new recipes to share with my family. Other hobbies of mine include reading and writing, which motivated me to minor in English. When the pandemic comes to an end, I look forward to going to concerts, dining at restaurants with friends, and traveling to National Parks with my sisters.
My advice to younger students is to get to know your classmates. They are an excellent resource as you proceed through the program together, but more importantly, a source of lifelong friendship. I also suggest seeking out a mentor and getting involved in a club on campus that supports your goals.
After graduation, I will begin my career at Jacobs Engineering as a Construction Project Engineer. I will be working in the field to implement engineering solutions that improve K-12 education, and my first project is located in my home region of Ulster County, New York. Though my goals for the future may change as I go through different experiences, I know that certain aspirations of mine will remain resolute: I want to earn my Professional Engineering licensure, maintain my involvement in SWE and continue community outreach to inspire young women to follow their ambitions, and work for a company as a structural designer to tackle the world’s challenges. I hope that through my career, I can make a positive difference in quality of life and the environment.