Transitioning into UW Madison
Born and raised in the small town of Dodgeville, Wisconsin, Stacey Ley sought a familiar college experience with small classes, individual academic attention and a close-knit group of friends. She always liked science but wasn’t entirely sure what career path to follow. Not ready to leap into a program at a large school, Ley decided to enroll in Edgewood College’s pre-engineering concentration program with the intention of transferring to the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering.
The curriculum is part of a joint degree program between Edgewood College and UW-Madison. Under this agreement, Ley received a bachelor’s degree in natural science and mathematics and minor in physics from Edgewood College and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and Japanese certificate from UW-Madison in 2011.
After three years at Edgewood College, where she was active in softball, the math team and the dean of students advising council, Ley was ready for new scenery. The dual program allowed Ley to transition to life at UW-Madison by taking a course on campus before transferring. “My first reaction was that the class was huge,” she says of the roughly 100-person statistics class. “But I was surprised at how receptive the professors were to questions and that they stayed after class to help.”
Ley made the official transfer in 2008 and chose mechanical engineering per her aspirations to pursue engine research. “I liked that I was able to start taking my engineering classes right away,” says Ley. “Plus, the quality of the lab equipment and student shops on campus reaffirmed that I made a good decision.”
She now spends most of her time in those student shops—and in particular, the auto garage in the Engineering Centers Building. She joined the UW-Madison Hybrid Vehicle Team and in 2010, she was elected Hybrid Vehicle Team leader, a position, she says, that takes effort and initiative for a transfer student to obtain in one year.
“It was hard to find my place at first,” says Ley, who saw a team poster and began attending team meetings. “But eventually I was assigned more projects and overtime, the team began to ask me for my opinion. That felt great.”
Ley was able to take on team projects and succeed through her experience working at the UW-Madison Center for Plasma in the Laboratory and Astrophysics. She has worked there since she was 16 years old and will continue this fall. It is there that she learned skills such as metalworking, soldering and creating circuit boards. Additionally, during the summer of 2010, Ley worked as a new product development intern at Fiskars Brands Inc., a position she found through Engineering Career Services.
Although things are coming together as she enters her senior year, Ley still remembers how she felt her first semester at UW-Madison. “It was a tough adjustment coming to a new school where everyone else knows each other,” she says. “And in engineering, you need to do your homework in a group—otherwise you’ll just sit and hit your head against the wall.”
Ley says in the end it was well worth the transfer to the UW-Madison College of Engineering. “An education from UW-Madison has prepared me for the practical work I will be doing in my career, and introduced me to new activities and future job contacts,” she says. “Additionally, having access to Engineering Career Services for the rest of my professional career will be one of the most important assets I have.”
Learn what you need to do to transfer into the UW-Madison College of Engineering through the Engineering General Resources transfer services group and explore student organizations that meet your interests through the engineering Student Leadership Center.