Jodie Lutkenhaus
Dr. Jodie Lutkenhaus
Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University
College Station, TX

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  • Describe what you do in your current work situation.
    I am an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University. I teach thermodynamics, and I do research in the areas of polymers.
  • Why did you choose engineering?
    I enjoyed problem solving, and I saw engineering as a way to keep doing that. My family was also a major influence. My mom and dad studied chemistry and physics, respectively, and my older system was studying chemical engineering. Growing up, science and engineering were always part of the conversation among family. As a child, my hobbies were crossword and logic puzzles, video games, board games, and music. These prepared me well for my future path.
  • Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
    I went to The University of Texas at Austin for my undergraduate degree in chemical engineering. Then, I went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology for my PhD in chemical engineering.
  • What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
    My job includes a combination of research, teaching, and service. I supervise a research lab of 10+ graduate students and post-docs. This also requires writing manuscripts and applying for funding. I usually teach one class of 60-90 students per semester. In the past I have taught Thermodynamics and also Introduction to Polymer Engineering.
  • What do you like best about being an engineer?
    I enjoy the combination of using established knowledge to solve today's new problems. Chemical engineering fundamentals are well established, yet I enjoy learning about how they are applied to today's global challenges such as water purification, accessible health care for all, carbon dioxide capture, and more. As the future global challenges evolve or change, I know that chemical engineers will always be positioned to address them.
  • Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
    I am most proud of the students that I have taught and mentored. I love hearing about their latest career and life accomplishments.
  • What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
    One challenge I have faced and overcome is that of criticism. In science and engineering, criticism is a part of every day life, from receiving grades as a student to receiving feedback on your latest project. You just have to remember that the criticism is usually well-intended and the goal is to always improve. It is usually about the work and not about you, so it is important to take it in and forge ahead.
  • Please tell us a little about your family.
    I am married with two boys under the ages of ten. They keep us very busy!
  • What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
    Short-term, I want to develop a new elective course and I want to develop new polymer-enabled batteries from developments in my research. Long-term, I want to lead a large effort on polymers or soft matter that addresses global challenges.
  • What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
    My parents!
  • What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
    Go for it! Just remember to have fun. I always found time to go to music shows or play games with my friends. Don't forget to be human.
  • Any other stories or comments you would like to share with EngineerGirl visitors?
    You just have to remember that the criticism is usually well-intended and the goal is to always improve. It is usually about the work and not about you, so it is important to take it in and forge ahead.
  • Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
    These days, I am very involved with family, which doesn't leave too much time for hobbies. I have a large garden and I sometimes sew. I just read The Circle for the second time, and I think I could read it again!

I am an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M University. I do research in the areas of polymers, plastics, and materials for batteries. During the school year, I teach thermodynamics and an elective course on polymer engineering. My parents were scientists, so chemical engineering was a natural choice!

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