Campus & Community

All the Right Notes: Stevens Vocalist Embarks on Civil Engineering Career

Donna Barden (B.S. in Civil Engineering, 2012) has spent her Stevens undergraduate career making the world lovelier – to the eye and to the ear.

Through a number of summer internships, Barden worked on landscape architecture and water resources management projects, helping to promote sustainable design and green building. Meanwhile, she entertained countless members of the Stevens community through her music as one of the most talented members of Stevens’ vibrant performing arts community.

Barden hails from Saint Paul, Minn. An Edwin A. Stevens scholarship recipient, she was drawn to Stevens by its curriculum and location, and originally enrolled as an undecided engineering major. When she took Mechanics of Solids, and found that she even enjoyed doing the homework, she knew she was meant to study Civil Engineering.

“I enjoyed drawing the forces on the frames and trusses and decided I wanted to continue my upper level coursework centered on those fundamentals,” Barden said.

Barden was taught meaningful and practical Civil Engineering skills in her courses, and then gained on-the-job experience during her college summers.

She spent the summers of 2009 and 2010 in a rotational program at the Army Corps of Engineers, an internship she secured at a Stevens Career Fair as a freshman. The first summer, she assisted with the design side of construction, assisting head architects with tenant placement for a two tower, 17 story LEED Gold Certified building for the Department of Defense. The second summer was spent out in the field doing quality assurance inspections.

“I made good connections, met interesting professionals in the government, and saw my engineering education in concrete and rebar,” Barden said.

Later, Barden worked for the New York Parks Department as a landscape architecture intern and the New York City Department of Environmental Projection’s Office of Green Infrastructure as a sustainability intern.

On campus, Barden made a name for herself through her musical talents, especially as a vocalist. A member of four performing arts ensembles – Concert Band, Jazz Band, Brass Ensemble and Choir – and a performer in two musicals by the DeBaun Center of Performing Arts, Barden was a staple on the Stevens’ stages. She even won the 2011 Ondrick Scholarship, given to a student who has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and contributed unselfishly to the advancement of music at Stevens.

“The DeBaun programs have been important to me because they provide an outlet for creative energy, and helped me improve my confidence and skills for performing,” Barden said.

It is probably theater and music that Barden will miss most about Stevens.

“The ensembles are special because they bring together students of different backgrounds who have similar interests,” she said. “I have made very close friends with those I have performed with within the performing arts community.”

Upon graduation, Barden begins full-time work as an entry level civil engineer at Langan Engineering & Environmental Services in New York City. She’ll be responsible for both storm water management and best management practice design.

In the next ten years, she plans to get her Professional Engineering license and LEED certification, as well as a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture.

“My ultimate career goal is to design green roofs in New York City and around the world,” she said.

Read more profiles of 2012 graduating students here.