Graduate honed engineering, leadership skills at KSU

KENNESAW, Ga. | May 1, 2020

For thousands of Kennesaw State students each semester, graduation represents a defining moment. It is an opportunity to reflect on their entire educational journey - the mentors they found, the friendships they made and the opportunities they seized. In recognition of that, we are spotlighting students who are completing their final semester at KSU. Addie Thornton, who is earning a degree in civil engineering, shares in her own words what made KSU the perfect fit.

Addie Thornton

When reflecting on my time at Kennesaw State, I can’t help but smile. Not only am I leaving this special place with an undergraduate degree in civil engineering, a minor in construction management and a land surveying certificate, I have also successfully completed the Honors program and served as an officer for three student organizations, team captain on a national student competition team and intern with an amazing civil engineering firm during my entire college career. Not to mention the fact that I was able to meet many other passionate and goal-oriented individuals that I am sure I will cross paths with again in my career as an engineer.

Discovering a Passion

However, engineering wasn’t always on my radar. It wasn’t until high school that I realized I had a future in civil engineering. During my freshman and sophomore years, I took interior design classes because I felt in my heart that was my passion and eventual career. However, after two years of interior design, I asked my teacher when we would learn about designing floorplans. She explained that I would need to take the AutoCAD class my high school offered should I want to go that route, so in my junior and senior years of high school, I did. In my AutoCAD class, I took on projects such as designing residential pods for living on planet Mars, designing a dream home for one of my teachers and building a model of an observation tower in Atlanta called “Skyview 360.” While some of the projects were out-of-the-ordinary, it ultimately led me to the world of engineering. I later decided that pursuing a career in civil engineering with a focus in construction management was the right choice for me because of the creation, innovation and collaboration.

Two months into my freshman year at Kennesaw State University, I was fortunate to have been offered an internship position at a local civil engineering firm, Atwell. The professionals at Atwell spent a lot of time shaping me into a better professional. They took a large risk by hiring a college freshman, but because of my experience with AutoCAD, it put my career with Atwell on the fast-track.

The Honors Journey

While at KSU, I also was privileged to be accepted into KSU Journey Honors College, which took a role in developing many of my core values, specifically leadership, critical thinking and professionalism, which showed not only in the office at Atwell, but on campus as well. It led me to become one of the founders of the University’s Association of Energy Engineers, where I would go on to serve as president, secretary and marketing officer. I also would gain valuable experience as president and NSPS team captain of the KSU chapter of the Surveying and Mapping Society of Georgia (SAMSOG) and the Marketing Officer for KSU’s Associated General Contractors (AGC). I credit the Honors program for helping me gain confidence to speak up among a crowd, participate in leadership positions and provide me with tools to work better in a group setting, all of which are important for engineers.

Harnessing Potential

Through student organizations, I was able to attend and present at energy conferences across the East Coast, meeting former President George W. Bush at a sustainability event and being selected as the Association of Energy Engineers National 2019 Outstanding Student Chapter Member. One of the many defining moments of my college career would come when I served as the team captain for the 2019 National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) student surveying competition in which our team won third place among other top universities across the nation. Being able to collaborate with my surveying and construction engineering peers from the KSU SAMSOG chapter on a “real-life” project from beginning to end was truly a game changer, and it helped me realize the potential I never knew I had.

Now in my fifth year interning with Atwell, and I am proud to say that after graduation I will be working there full time as an engineer. I have made it a personal goal to work my way up to a project management position and become a licensed professional engineer. While this chapter of my life is coming to a close, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit