Kristina Lawyer
Kristina Lawyer
Research engineer, Argonne National Laboratory

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Close Up
  • What I Do
    I am working on my PhD in Mechanical Engineering. I am currently doing research on hybrid vehicles and a study on service learning
  • Why Engineering?
    I chose engineering because I like hands-on work, but I didn’t want to spend every day working in a shop. Engineering is a compromise between office work (reports, meetings, etc.) and laboratory work (experimentation, etc.).
  • School Days
    I graduated from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in May '08 with a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering. I will have my Masters in Mechanical Engineering in December '10.
  • My Day At Work
    I attend classes and conduct research in both the Mechanical Engineering and Civil & Environmental Engineering departments. My research is not laboratory based, so I spend most of my time in my office at my computer.
  • Best Part
    I like being able to look at a machine and figure out how it works. I now apply the problem solving skills I learned in engineering school to everything, and it allows me to understand things that I would otherwise have a hard time figuring out.
  • Proud Moments
    I am most proud of how my accomplishments as a racecar driver fit together with my career. I have the great pleasure of pursuing my passion within my career.
  • Challenges
    The biggest challenge that I have faced is proper time management. Just like any demanding career, being an engineer requires lots of time and effort. At first I didn’t think I was able to put forth the effort nor had the time to be a good engineer, but through determination and lots of help from my professors, I learned how to accomplish everything that I needed to in the time I was given.
  • My Family
    I am an only child. My parents reside in Southern Indiana with our plethora of pets. My parents and I are very close and spend lots of time together. My extended family is rather small and resides all around the country.
  • Dreams and Goals
    I would like to be an engineering professor.
  • Inspiration
    When I graduated from high school my mother bought me a ring that has "To Thine Ownself Be True" scribed on it (from Shakespeare’s Hamlet). Every day when I put it on it reminds me to trust myself. I try to make choices by knowing what would be fulfilling to me, and beneficial for society as a whole.
  • Want to be an Engineer?
    There is no reason women can’t be engineers. While it is a predominately male field, I have never been treated differently because I am a woman. If you enjoy math, science and technology, an engineering career is both personally satisfying and a great way to improve our society. If you already know that you want to be an engineer, I advise you to stay sharp in math and improve your study skills (they can never be too good).
  • Additional Thoughts
    There is no reason women can’t be engineers. While it is a predominately male field, I have never been treated differently because I am a woman.
  • Hobbies
    My hobby is drag racing. I have driven a racecar since I was 7 years old and nearly everything in my life now revolves around racing. I have been successful on an amateur level and I hope to be successful on a professional level some day.

I am currently working on my PhD research at Argonne National Laboratory. I am investigating higher carbon number alcohols in spark-ignition engines. I spend part of my time running tests on an engine dynamometer and the remainder working on data analysis, publications, and presentations.

I was recently interviewed on the YesCollege podcast and talked about my path and mechanical engineering in general — the courses required in college, what opportunities are out there, and more. Listen here!

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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 serve as a sponsor or coach for an engineering club or team.
  • I am willing to serve as science fair judge or other temporary volunteer at a local school.
  • I am willing to be contacted about potential job shadowing by interested students.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
Latest Questions
  • Adriana N.

    Added Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 2:36 PM

    Hello, I am currently studying Mechanical Engineering, and I'm planning what I want to specialize in. I would like to combine my knowledge in mechanical engineering with pediatric physical therapy. On the other hand, I like automotive engineering. I want to use my degree to help people. But I am unsure in which of those two. I doubt there is a way to do both. Which would you recommend? I love helping people who need it, but at the same time I love cars.
    Answers 1
    Kristina Lawyer, Argonne National Laboratory
    Answered Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 2:36 PM


    Most engineering jobs involve helping people in one way or another, so it sounds like a good career choice for you. My answer to your question comes from a more practical standpoint: which degree will make it easier for you to find a job when ...

    Read More
  • Jordan, southery asked Kristina Lawyer, Argonne National Laboratory

    Added Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    To Whom It May Concern, Hello, My name is Jordan Bird and shortly I will be 15 years old. I am currently studying for my GCSE's and I am hoping to get good enough grades to go to college for further studies should I need to. I am interested in a career in Motorsport especially with the I.T. side of the sport. I have been to many races in the national series since I was 8 years old and I have decided this is what i would like to do. I am currently top of my class within I. T. and I would ...
    Related to Engineering Skills, Preparation for College, Special fields and Interdisciplinary
    Answers 0
  • Betsy, New York asked Kristina Lawyer, Argonne National Laboratory

    Added Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 7:28 AM

    I have a question for anyone who can answer it- I'm trying to build a robotic cart- basically, a cart that i can sit on and steer. I'm kind of new to engineering, but it really interests me, and I've built robots in school (little ones from legos, but still), but nothing this big. Anyway, I've run into a problem... How would I make it turn? I had the idea of attaching the two front wheels to different pedals (the things I would push to make it go). So, for example, if I wanted to turn ...
    Answers 1
    Kristina Lawyer, Argonne National Laboratory
    Answered Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 7:28 AM
    Betsy, What an interesting project! Your dual pedal idea would certainly work, and would probably be the easiest system to build and use. If youre looking for something else, you could try to implement what a car uses to turn a rack and pinion. If ...Read More
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