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October 29, 2008

Media Contact: Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
News and Information
The University of Texas at Tyler

Meet the Patriots: UT Tyler Engineering Alumna Makes Mark

Editor’s Note: The University of Texas at Tyler prides itself on its remarkable ensemble of undergraduates, graduates and alumni. In this 2008-09 feature series, “Meet the Patriots,” we will focus on some of those individuals.

Schneider and the UT Tyler Bell Tower

When Maegan Schneider of Wichita Falls made a phone call three years ago to inquiry about transferring to The University of Texas at Tyler from UT Arlington, little did she know she would become a pioneer in UT Tyler’s recently created civil engineering program.

In December 2007, Schneider became the first student and first female to receive a master of science degree in civil engineering from UT Tyler. She walked across the stage last May, with the first graduating class of undergraduate civil engineering students.

“When I graduated from Texas Tech, I moved to Dallas for a job,” said the licensed professional engineer, who graduated with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from Texas Tech University in 2002. “I started a master’s program at UT Arlington. I got about halfway through it and moved to Tyler, and I was so far along in it, I decided to continue here.”

Schneider’s inquiry to Dr. James Nelson, College of Engineering and Computer Science dean, in the summer of 2005 came just in time. At that period, the college had a few undergraduates, but she was the first graduate student even to be admitted into the master’s program, which was brand new to UT Tyler itself.

“The first class I took in January 2006 had four people in it,” she recalled. “I was here for four semesters. I was considered a nontraditional student, and the professors helped tailor a degree program for me in my area of interest.”

Schneider credits Dr. Torey Nalbone, associate professor of civil engineering, and Nelson for their helpfulness.

“In between my time here I had a baby in the middle of a semester, and they were all very helpful and understanding, letting me know I could take some time off and come back to complete my studies,” she said.

Holding an appreciation for science and math, Schneider originally thought petroleum engineering would be a good fit for her, but she changed directions while an undergraduate.

“When I was in high school, I was very good in math and enjoyed math,” Schneider said. “But I thought, ‘What would I do with a math degree, besides teach?’ And I didn’t think I could teach. I found out about a scholarship for petroleum engineering and got into that program at Tech, but then I realized it wasn’t for me. I took some classes in civil engineering along the way and enjoyed them, so my junior year in college I switched to a civil engineering major.”

The UT Tyler alumna is extremely involved with the university’s American Society of Civil Engineering student chapter as a practitioner sponsor.

“I can feed the students information for real world projects,” she said. “The professors know I’ll always be around to help out. I’ve helped set up a scholarship for junior-level UT Tyler engineering students through the Texas Society of Professional Engineers. I just try to help out where I can.”

Schneider has had another tie with UT Tyler, too. The land development firm she currently works for, Adams Engineering in Tyler, assigned her the university’s Baptist Student Ministry building as an in-state project.

The building is scheduled to open sometime next month.

“Civil engineering is very broad, but the aspect I’m involved with is land development,” Schneider explained. “We do basically all the design of the elements underground, and outside the building, before others come in to put the building on top. I’m also in charge of a project involving the new Tyler Museum of Art, which will be moving across the street from the university.”

She and her husband Paul, who also is a civil engineer, are the proud parents of son, Holden, and a child to be born in April. Her hobbies include reading and traveling.

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. Nearly 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.

Meet the Patriots Feature Series:


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