Dawn Willemsen

Dawn Willemsen

Senior Engineering Geologist, JK Geotechnics


Annette von Jouanne
Jan Hilbi
Marjory Anderson
Sangeeta Kodukula
Nicola Asker
Maria Marenco
Sameena Shah
Jennifer Verde
Hannah Leutermann
Rachel Ziegler
Madeleine Hirsch
Close Up
  • Why Engineering?

    I didn't – it chose me. I didn't want to be a typical "civil engineer" or "structural engineer," and I didn't like the options that were offered to me at the university. So, I did science, and first job was as an Engineering Geologist in Australia. I worked alongside geotechnical engineers and field workers, and later I worked within a geotechnical engineering consultancy where I essentially did 4 roles in one (field worker, lab technician, engineering geologist and geotechnical engineer). I was good at math and engineering but I also enjoyed the artsy/visual side of geotechnical engineering (but I wasn't quite as hardcore into geology as other pure geologists), which is why being an engineering geologist was a good fit for me at the time. But I've decided I want to have more options when I get older so I am pursuing my engineering undergraduate degree.

  • School Days

    Cornell University - B.S. in Geological Science, Science of Earth Systems Option, Hydrology Concentration
    University of New South Wales - M.S. in Engineering Geology and Geotechnical Engineering
    University of North Dakota - B.S. in Civil Engineering

  • Best Part

    The fieldwork and working alongside other engineers. There is a lot less office drama in a mostly male office, especially when some of them are also socially awkward. I also enjoy the behind the scenes "networking" within the office, getting to know people, and leaning on people for help or teaching others how to log properly.

  • Challenges

    Going back to work after my one-year maternity leave, and still being tired from waking up at night. Due to lack of sleep, I made some big mistakes and got upset at people who didn't deserve it. No one cared about the mistakes as much as I do, and now it's my job to forgive myself. Another challenge is trying to stay confident in myself and my abilities and allowing myself to be as smart as I really am.

  • My Family

    I have an almost 4-year-old daughter and a husband. Being an engineer makes you a really good mom. You could even say the best moms are engineers.  

  • Dreams and Goals

    Create a new software targeted towards distance engineering students to enhance student-to-student communication, create a student community for distance students, increase visual social interaction, and decrease loneliness.

  • Inspiration

    Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He shows that it's OK to be smart. He inspires us to be the best version of ourselves. He's challenged the status quo by going into the military as a well-educated upper-middle class man, when it's not typical for that kind of person to go into the military anymore. He is more about showing you what to do through his own actions rather than telling you what to do.  His story and his campaign has made me question my whole upbringing and reasoning why I am the way I am today and how I fit into society and whether I really am bringing into this world the most good that can come out of me.

Volunteer Opportunities
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.