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Saint Mary’s engineers transfer to Notre Dame for fifth year

| Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Nine students from Saint Mary’s are transferring from the College to Notre Dame to complete their fifth year of the Dual Degree in Engineering program. According to the college’s website, students in the program earn a bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s in four years and a second bachelor’s degree, in engineering, from Notre Dame after a fifth year.

Saint Mary’s alumna Taylor Heppeler earned a math degree from the College and will be taking courses at Notre Dame this upcoming academic year. Heppler finds that the math degree complements her civil engineering major nicely, she said.

Heppeler said going back forth between campuses for the program was a bit difficult and being a Saint Mary’s student made some group projects challenging, especially this past spring.

“I had my hardest semester of Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame classes and a huge couple of projects, as well as my senior comp, and the anticipation of waiting for that Notre Dame acceptance letter,” she said. “Now that it’s over, I’m so proud of what came out of that semester, and I think it prepared me well for this next year.”

Samantha Fairchild, who is working toward a degree in mechanical engineering, agrees taking courses at both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame isn’t easy.

“Balancing life at both colleges is a challenge and requires a lot of time management, but it can be done and all of the hard work is worth it,” Fairchild said.

Despite the challenges, Fairchild said the community she experienced for four years at Saint Mary’s helped her through the program.

Studying under Dr. Toni Barstis, program director for the dual degree program, was a specific highlight for Heppeler.

“She was always pushing us to try our hardest with the crazy schedules and get into Notre Dame for this fifth year,” Heppeler said. “She was always the one to calm us down or help us out or be that outlet for us.”

Fairchild said the transition from Saint Mary’s to Notre Dame will be smooth as a result of all the courses she has taken at the University since her sophomore year. Such courses gave her a taste of what a large-school experience is like, she said.

Despite attending classes at the University for three years, Fairchild and some of her classmates are considered transfer students and, thus, participate in three mandatory orientation events, including an official University welcome, individual academic advising sessions, and “Building Community the Notre Dame Way,” Fairchild said.

Orientation will mainly consist of receiving ID cards and going to information sessions, Heppeler said.

“I’m really looking forward to just having my civil classes this year so I can focus on those and really buckle down for my senior projects,” she said.

After finishing the program, Fairchild hopes to have a job in the engineering industry that allows her to use both her math and mechanical engineering degrees, she said. Heppeler plans to get a civil engineering job back home in Chicago.

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About Kathryn Marshall

Kathryn Marshall, Saint Mary's College '17, is a Biology and Humanistic Studies double major. Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kmarshallSMC

Contact Kathryn