Finding a Long-Term Passion

From early on in her time at Illinois Institute of Technology, Jamie Griggs has been involved with the university’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). She’s taken on multiple leadership roles including secretary, vice president, and president. 

Each year ASCE organizes a career fair that gives students an opportunity to talk directly with the companies that they’re interested in working for. At one fair, Jamie secured an internship that turned into a full-time job offer. 

Permasteelisa is an engineering contractor specializing in curtain walls, which are the non-structural exterior walls that keep the weather out of buildings.

“It’s all the cool aluminum, glass windows, and unique features you see when looking at buildings,” says Jamie. 

The company has worked on a range of internationally renowned projects including the Guggenheim Museum, The Shard, Musée des Confluences, and Chicago’s 150 North Riverside.  

“Architects come to the company with their vision of really unique and complex designs, and then the company says, ‘Yeah, we could work with that,’” says Jamie. “A lot of the projects involve creating custom window units and architectural features to match the architect’s vision, so it allows for creative solutions.”

During her internship at Permasteelisa, Jamie received training and mentorship, and she was able to contribute to real projects that the company was working on. 

“I think having an internship really helps,” she says. “It helps you understand what you’re looking for long-term in a career and see how all the concepts you’re learning in courses actually apply.”

Jamie has also pursued other experiences outside the classroom including an internship with another engineering company, two semesters of Armour R&D, and playing on the Illinois Tech women’s soccer team. 

“The soccer team has really been a family away from home,” says Jamie. “Plus we’ve become a really successful team. We’re usually at the top of our conference, and we’ve made program history. Seeing us develop over the past five years I’ve been here has been really great. It’s amazing to see how far the program has come, and I’m excited to see more success in the future.”

Because of her interest in structural engineering, Jamie knew she wanted to get a master’s degree to be competitive in the workforce, so she joined the Accelerated Master’s Program

“It was the perfect opportunity to be able to get my master’s degree and still keep my undergraduate status and all my scholarships. Plus it let me graduate in a shorter amount of time than I would have elsewhere,” says Jamie. “I think starting out in a career, I’ll be much better equipped than I would have otherwise.”

As part of her capstone project, Jamie had the opportunity to conduct a project in the new Trimble Technology Laboratory, which gave her hands-on experience with cutting-edge tools used by professionals in the field. 

“We were given the architectural drawings for a steel and concrete building, and it was our task to check if the design was structurally sufficient. We used Tekla Structural Designer, which is an all-in-one software that really simplified the structural design process,” says Jamie. “I’m really glad I had the opportunity to use such a powerful program as an undergrad, and I feel as if my experience with such a software has helped prepare me for the similar programs I will be using in my career.”

With her graduation and a new job approaching, Jamie says she’s excited for opportunities to continue her growth. 

“Permasteelisa is working on projects that haven’t been done before, so there’s a continuous learning process through every single project. No two projects are the same. I feel like I could go a long way with that,” she says.

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