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Highway to Success

Extracurriculars, hands-on projects enhanced education for civil engineering graduate

By Tara Roberts

Molly Louks

Molly Loucks isn't nervous about managing engineers when she graduates from the University of Idaho and jumps into her career. She's handled a tougher crowd – 90 members of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, where she served as chapter president.

"Greek life has helped me become confident, not scared to take on the world," she says. "I've learned so much just working with 90 women every day."

Loucks, originally from Eagle, Idaho, will move to Ohio after commencement to work as a highway designer for Burgess and Niple, a 100-year-old engineering and design firm. She's excited for a fresh start in the Midwest and the chance to work with a type of engineering she enjoys.

"I can see how important it is to infrastructure and how we function," she says. "You have to have a safe and efficient road system to do everything we do."

Loucks' busy extracurricular schedule made her stand out to her employer, she says.

Molly Louks at AGDShe's held multiple chapter offices at Alpha Gamma Delta and helped the sorority start a new scholarship program. She's active on the Student-Alumni Relations Board and chaired this year's Mom's Weekend celebration, and she has been on two Homecoming committees.

She's also participated in two Alternative Spring Break trips – one working on a Habitat for Humanity home in San Francisco, and another helping build a home's foundation in Spring Hill, La., with the Fuller Center, a housing-related non-profit group.

"I pestered my team with fun facts about rebar and stuff from my classes," she says.

Juggling so many activities wasn't easy, she says, but it connected her to a close-knit community and built many friendships, in addition to preparing her for her career. "It taught me a lot about how to manage my time and how to work with people."

"I didn't have to cook for the last four years – I think that's important also," she adds with a laugh.

She also credits her success to her education in the College of Engineering.

For her senior capstone design project, Loucks and her teammates, Charles Guthrie, John Lampert and Tyson Larson, redesigned a problem intersection in Salmon, Idaho. They used a virtual model to test how well their designs would function and worked closely with their sponsor, the Idaho Transportation Department, to learn about the various state and federal requirements they needed to meet.

Loucks' team won an Excellence Award for their poster presentation at the annual Engineering Design EXPO. She says the transportation department may implement the team's design if funding is available.

She says her experience working on hands-on group projects through U-Idaho’s civil engineering program prepared her for her career.

"I've got all the basic engineering concepts down, but the College of Engineering also gives us a lot of skills I think a lot of other engineering students don't have," she says.