Construction brings Marian alumni back as engineers

By J1 Reporter Katelin Kearney

Construction at Marian is under wraps as alumni Sarah Shay Gudeman ‘01 and Kelley Real Clouse ‘08 continue to work on the project as engineers. Photo by Taylor Sterba.


Dust flies and the forceful sounds of power tools overwhelm the site as metal beams are tightly fastened together. As they carefully gaze upon the structure in progress before them, two incredibly vital engineers watch as their work comes to life. This project is unlike any other— it brings them back to their own roots as Marian alumni.

With Marian’s recent renovations remaining evident to all those who pass by, the community is fortunate enough to have two of its former students working tirelessly on the construction.

Just a few years ago, they were sitting in some of the exact seats strategically placed in the remodeled classrooms lining the halls. Sarah Shay Gudeman ‘01 and Kelley Real Clouse ‘08 recall the years they were young women introduced to a fresh experience of high school here at Marian.

Gudeman was involved in softball, TARs, Science Club, Operation Others, Art Club, Big Sisters, and Mu Alpha Theta.

“Ironically I did not participate in the SAME Architectural and Engineering club. . . which I have now mentored as a professional,” Gudeman said.

Clouse participated in basketball and soccer for a short time, before receiving important information about her health.

“. . . as soon as I learned I had a heart condition and could no longer play competitively, [I] helped manage the reserve teams for both sports,” Clouse said.

Both women tried a variety of activities before finding their passion of engineering. One teacher in particular greatly helped them find their niche and eventually influenced their career choice.

“Before Marian, specifically Mr. Esser’s physics class, I didn’t know what engineering was,” Gudeman explained.

“I took Physics I and II with Mr. Esser. For Physics II, a lot of schools tend to focus on an advanced version of Physics I. With Mr. Esser, we explored different types of physics- astronomy, nuclear, quantum- so that we had an understanding of all of different types of physics and could see all of the career opportunities in the field,” Clouse said.

Gudeman earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University, and now works as the mechanical engineer for the project.

“. . . I was ultimately responsible for the design of the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and plumbing systems, working closely with the architectural design team, and other engineering disciplines collaboratively,” Gudeman explained.

She also performs construction administration, which “means job site visits to resolve issues and questions with the contractors in the field,” Gudeman said.

Clouse has a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering and a Master of Architectural Engineering degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She now works as the structural project engineer.

“I designed the entire structural system for the new addition. Since I don’t have my engineering license quite yet, my work was overseen by the Structural Engineer of Record, Kip Squire,” Clouse said.

Engineering tends to be a male-dominated industry. However, Gudeman and Clouse have brought light to this issue as hard-working, confident, female engineers who are willing to get the job done right.

The women both agree that the opportunity to attend an all-girls school here at Marian was like no other.

“Marian gave me an amazing amount of confidence in myself. As a result, I think going from an all-girls school to a college major encompassed 95 percent male, at the time, was an easy switch,” Gudeman said.

“Going to Marian made me not afraid to speak my mind. When I first started as an intern, it was overwhelmingly evident that engineering is a male-dominated field (other engineers, contractors, inspectors, etc.). However, I was able to navigate my role among those around me and was able to show the confidence needed to ensure I was taken seriously,” Clouse said.

In hopes to inspire numerous young women contemplating going into a career in the S.T.E.M. field, Gudeman and Clouse shared their words of wisdom.

“Science, technology, engineering and math are always in high demand. I personally struggled with choosing a major because I’m interested in so many things, but I’m thankful that my parents and teachers encouraged me to look into engineering. It’s a great career, which allows me to still be creative both professionally and personally,” Gudeman said.

“Go for it! Don’t let the number of men in your college classes or extracurricular activities scare you away. There are places for every type of personality in these fields, and being anything but yourself will hold you back,” Clouse said.

Although the journey was sometimes challenging, Marian alumni Sarah Shay Gudeman ‘01 and Kelley Real Clouse ‘08 were each able to find their passion and pursue it in ways that interest them the most. As they return to Marian, this time as successful engineers, their work will be admired for years to come.

“I fell in love with the career that day and haven’t looked back since,” Clouse said, as she reminisced about her physics classes.

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