Kristina Lawyer

Kristina Lawyer

Research engineer
Argonne National Laboratory
Kristina Lawyer
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I am currently working on my PhD research at Argonne National Laboratory. I am investigating higher carbon number alcohols in spark-ignition engines. I spend part of my time running tests on an engine dynamometer and the remainder working on data analysis, publications, and presentations.

  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to serve as a sponsor or coach for an engineering club or team.
  • I am willing to serve as science fair judge or other temporary volunteer at a local school.
  • I am willing to be contacted about potential job shadowing by interested students.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Kristina Lawyer


Most engineering jobs involve helping people in one way or another, so it sounds like a good career choice for you. My answer to your question comes from a more practical standpoint: which degree will make it easier for you to find a job when you graduate from college? The answer is definitely Mechanical Engineering over Automotive Engineering. ME is broader than AE which will leave you with more options. And remember, lots of MEs are employed in the automotive industry!

I love cars too and I hope that my jobs always focus on them in some respect. However, I'm thankful that I chose ME instead of AE (which I did consider) because I have a lot more flexibility in job choices.

Corie, Let me start by saying that my opinion may be biased since I have no experience with online schools. However, I'm going to try to be as unbiased as possible. When I started engineering school I needed a lot of help (and I still do). For this reason, I am very glad I went to school instead of taking online classes. I'm afraid (and again, I don't really know) that online classes wouldn't provide the support that you might need with your work. Living on campus was the only way I made it through some of my classes. I was able to walk down to the library for help, or simply walk down the hall to a classmate's room to find a study buddy. And, I'll tell you now, being able to talk to your professors one-on-one is INVALUABLE. If you are an independent worker and excel at teaching yourself from a text, then you might not have the problems that I did. Also, whichever school you decide to go with should provide you with opportunities for work after school (internships, permanent jobs, whatever). I have made many contacts with business professionals from meetings held on my campus. Again, I'm not sure how this would be handled with online classes. But, be aware that a big part of the engineering world is networking, and being on a campus is an easy way to accomplish this. I'm sure that online classes would be cheaper, which is probably a concern you have. Let me assure you, as a 21 year old who is already over $65000 in debt (don't worry, most school aren't as expensive as mine), I understand monetary concerns. However, I have never once felt bad about signing a loan paper. I know that in the end it will pay to go to a great school. But, not all people feel this way. This is more of a personal decision that you'll just have to weigh out. I think the biggest thing that should weight into your decision is your work ethic. If you are able to teach yourself and motivate yourself to work (don't need a study buddy, etc.), then you would probably do just fine with online classes. Concerning Bachelor's vs. Associates: it greatly depends on what you want to do when you are done with school. A Bachelor's would probably provide more opportunity (go to graduate school, etc.), but may not be required for the job you would like to do. To find out, I would suggest finding someone who does the job, or a job similar to, what you would like to do and talk to them about it. This is really the only way to find out. Since I am still a student I cannot tell you what kind of jobs require which degrees. Please don't hesitate if you have any other questions, or if I didn't answer your question. Kristina

Betsy, What an interesting project! Your dual pedal idea would certainly work, and would probably be the easiest system to build and use. If youre looking for something else, you could try to implement what a car uses to turn a rack and pinion. If you want to know more about a rack and pinion, read these: and But I must mention that you should be very careful with this project, for obvious reasons. If youre riding this cart and a component breaks, you could easily get hurt. So, keep that in mind, and take extra care (double and triple check everything!) when building the cart. Good luck!