Alexandra McGowan
2018 Undergraduate Scholarship
Fifth year student at University of Waterloo, specializing in Chemical Engineering

Alexandra McGowan’s interest in engineering stemmed from observing the enjoyment it brought her father and brother. However, while both of them were drawn to mechanical engineering, McGowan was fascinated by the concepts of chemistry. McGowan’s decision to pursue a degree in chemical engineering at the University of Waterloo came after careful consideration of what specialty encompassed her interests of chemistry, physics, and calculus while providing the most opportunities following graduation.

At the University of Waterloo, McGowan acts as the Communications Lead for the Engineering Ambassadors. In this position, which she described as extremely fulfilling, she helps introduce high school students to the field of engineering. She is also a part of the varsity cross country team which she says helps her alleviate stress from her studies.

As a winner of the Undergraduate Scholarship for exceptional achievement in leadership and academics, McGowan appreciates both the financial support and sense of motivation the award offers. McGowan has decided to pursue an Accelerated Masters and as a result had to forgo the financial support an industrial co-op would offer. The scholarship helped relieve some of the stress for McGowan, who feared she would be in debt for a prolonged period.

McGowan has aspirations to work either as a process engineer at a chemical plant or a consulting firm helping plants solve complex problems. In fact, she feels her problem-solving mindset would be one of her greatest contributions to the field. Describing her co-op experience, she says, “I worked with a process safety department with a chemical plant…and it really opened my eyes to how much of a difference chemicals engineers could make in ensuring processes are run safely.”

As McGowan looks ahead to the future, she offers this piece of advice for students entering a program in engineering: “If you keep working hard and ensure you understand the concepts more so than worrying about grades, that is what will make you a fantastic engineer.”