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Faith and Engineering

AUTHOR: Nina Welding

PUBLISHED: January 9, 2018

When asked “What is the most important thing you have learned as an engineering student,” most undergraduates talk about the technical side of engineering. Many mention the benefits of teamwork. Senior environmental engineering major Claire Nauman believes the most important thing she’s developed at Notre Dame is a more authentic faith life. “From an early age, I’ve known that in whatever I do for a job I want to help people,” she says. “I think that developing a deeper faith life has made me more sure of myself and the gifts I’ve been given. It’s helped me to discern the next steps and recognize where I’m being called.”

Nauman, a native of Belchertown, Mass., chose to pursue a degree in engineering because she enjoyed math in high school and she wanted to find a way to use her aptitude in that subject to help people. Engineering seemed like a good way to do that. It has turned out to be that and much more.

Still she knows as well as anyone how overwhelming life as an engineering student can be. Like so many other engineering undergraduates, Nauman has gone through times when it felt like everyone except her had their life figured out and under control. But she also found that studying together, working together, and even praying together could bring clarity to daunting tasks … in the classroom and in life. “When you work together it’s more fun and you usually come out with something better than you could on your own,” she says.

Nauman believes that Notre Dame tends to draw students who care deeply about service making it easier to find like-minded people. These friends, she shares, are invaluable in discerning where you are being drawn and the kind of career you eventually pursue.

The University proved a great fit for Nauman because of its Catholic identity and the many opportunities for service as an undergraduate. And she has taken advantage of many of those — from internships to undergraduate research experiences to participating in service programs like the Notre Dame chapter of Engineers Without Borders. Nauman also volunteers through the Notre Dame Circle K where she visits some of the elderly sisters at Saint Mary’s College every Friday.

In addition, she’s developed and launched a website, Engineer for the Soul, to help young people who are struggling with questions related to faith and engineering. This is where she shares her own story in hopes of continuing her own path while helping others find theirs.

What’s the next step for Nauman? She will continue to grow the Engineer for the Soul website, continue working with Engineers Without Borders, and continue praying with and for her friends and fellow students.

She will also continue her preparation for graduate school. Nauman’s focused on pursuing studies in geographic information systems and remote sensing and has identified a program that involves work on a project with NASA and USAID to use NASA’s earth observation satellite data to aid with environmental decision making in developing countries. Considering the impact she has had in her other endeavors, we have great faith in what this young engineer has yet to accomplish.