Abigail Kittel
Hard work and dedication are extremely important and to be valued.

Hometown: Smithsburg, MD
Graduation Date: Spring 2024

Can you tell us a bit about your background? Anything specific that helped shape your path into engineering?

I’ve always been a very STEM-oriented person. I was the kid asking how and why things work; I was creating my own “science experiments” at home and asking for extra work in math just for fun. Naturally, my love for all things STEM continued into middle and high school. At some point, my dad mentioned I should look into engineering and after doing so, everything clicked. I love tinkering, problem solving, creating new things, and having an impact on the world around me—all of which are key aspects of engineering.

Why did you choose to study at UMD?

In the summer of 2018, I attended a summer camp hosted by the Women in Engineering program at the University of Maryland. I fell in love with the campus and as cliché as it sounds, it just felt like home. I had toured other colleges prior and never really clicked, but something about UMD just felt right.

So, how did you learn about materials sciece and engineering (MSE) and what prompted you to declare it as your major?

At the same summer camp I mentioned previously, each department had a presentation on their specific field. Prior to the materials science presentation, I fully intended on majoring in aerospace. However, I was captivated by the materials presentation from the second it began. Between the shape memory alloys and the levitating superconductors, I knew materials engineering was the major for me.

Anything specific you're looking forward to, apart from your studies?

I love getting to meet new people who are as passionate about their studies as I am, so I'm looking forward to making those new connections!

When not in class, how do you plan to spend your time?

With such a unique first semester I haven’t been able to join any clubs yet, but I hope to after the first-look fair. I really enjoy spending time with friends on campus getting lunch or dinner (socially distanced, of course!), and just exploring the DC area :-)

It's early, but have you any post-commencement plans?

I hope to work within research on superconductors, specifically the development of a high-temperature superconductor and its applications within nuclear fusion. I'm fascinated with the idea of nuclear fusion and the research opportunities in materials science towards the development of this technology. Currently, any nuclear power is from nuclear fission, not fusion. Nuclear fusion is a much better energy source than fusion as it produces little to no waste and is much safer. In addition, it also has the potential to produce millions of times more energy than coal and oil. High temperature superconductors are a very promising material for the development of this technology (along with many other things!).

Just for fun: what do you want to be when you grow up?

Most of all, I want to be happy. As much as I love engineering and want to advance within my career, I don’t want to be entirely absorbed in my work. I think a work- life balance is incredibly important; a career should be just that—a career. It shouldn’t be your entire life’s purpose. I think hard work and dedication are extremely important and to be valued, but should be valued equally with family and friends.