Kaitlyn Anne Thomas

Name:  Kaitlyn Anne Thomas
Hometown: Tustin, CA
Major: M.S. in Civil Engineering and Math

Kaitlyn was born and raised in Orange County, CA with an older sister, Kelsey, and younger brother, Kyle. Though her situation as the middle child was unfortunate, Kaitlyn made the best of it by letting her sister get into trouble before she did and letting her brother have all the attention from the parents. This allowed Kaitlyn to fill her time with her passions like singing, running, and math.

Now, Kaitlyn is a junior civil engineering and math double major at SMU. She worked in the geotechnical lab last summer on finite element modeling research with advisor Dr. Usama El Shamy. This year, she was accepted into the Lyle School of Engineering 4+1 master's degree program, in which she will achieve her master's degree in one additional year after undergraduate studies. Kaitlyn will be working with Dr. Brett Story to specialize in structural engineering research. Her research will involve looking at light-weight timber truss systems used in most residential housing construction and their behavior during fires. This project will benefit fire fighters by improving the strength of the truss system or the predictability of collapse of the system.

During her time at SMU, Kaitlyn participated as an athlete on the SMU Women’s Cross Country and Track teams for three semesters, and she sang with the SMU Gospel Choir at SMU events and various church services. Kaitlyn also participates in many Lyle events such as the SWE-WISE Women in Engineering education day, Engineering and Humanity Week 2013, and Lyle School’s Research Improv.

In the spring of her sophomore year, Kaitlyn was one of the leaders in Lyle School’s Engineering in the City playground remodel project for the Wesley-Rankin Center in West Dallas. In this project, SMU students installed a new chain-link fence and retaining wall around the playground as well as replaced the mulch playground floor. The project was rewarding because Kaitlyn worked with the kids benefiting from the project since they pitched in to install the new mulch. She also learned important communication skills and cooperation within the team setting in addition to staying hydrated while shoveling wood chips into a wheel-barrow all day.

Kaitlyn has thoroughly enjoyed her time at SMU, and she is blessed to be surrounded by hard-working friends and colleagues that challenge and help her every day to strive for excellence. She looks forward to the rest of her undergraduate career as well as her graduate studies at SMU, and who knows? She might stick around for a Ph.D., too.