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Maggie Believes Her Spatial Ability Is Connected to Her Father, a Sculptor

Posted on Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Soon, in Orlando, Florida, twenty teams of geotechnical engineers will meet to compete. Maggie Exton will be there with a team she assembled from OSU. It’s notable that one of the other teams will be from Maggie’s alma mater, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, where she earned both her BS in Materials Science and Engineering, and her MS in Civil Engineering. While there, Maggie had competed under the direction of her then advisor.  This time around, that professor will again be leading a team against a former student’s. Game on!

“Curious” is how Maggie describes herself.  A native of New York, she believes her spatial ability may be connected to her father, a sculptor who could always conceive of things three dimensionally. With the support of her parents, she pursued her interest in engineering at RPI. The idea that stealth planes were a part of the “materials science” world intrigued her and the opportunity to do undergraduate research in a field where one could get fast results reinforced her interest.

A switch from materials science to civil engineering occurred as she began her work towards a masters degree. An interest in applying methods to solving problems in developing countries was furthered when her advisor brought her into his centrifuge lab studying the damage done to levees from Hurricane Katrina. This led to time spent in Nepal working on technology in schools, and later, evacuation mapping from tsunamis in Indonesia.

The idea of entering into graduate study where so much across disciplinary work is done was very appealing to Maggie. OSU excels at that. What does the future hold? Maybe academia where her love of mentoring and teaching can be applied; maybe at an institute or in a lab, here or abroad, where she can continue her research. The options and the draw are many.

But first things first. Good luck in Orlando and may the best team win!!

Maggie's donors are Anne & Peter Jarvis and Sue & Bernie McGrath.

Maggie is pictured with the newly constructed Tsunami Maker.