Student Spotlight: Sandra Contreras Lopez

Sandra Contreras Lopez
Sandra Contreras Lopez

Colorado native majoring in Civil Engineering Technology

At the start of spring semester 2020, Sandra Contreras Lopez, 25,  will be a sophomore in the Civil Engineering Technology (CET) program at Dakota County Technical College. Sandra is working toward her Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree and is on track to graduate in spring 2021.

“I’m not thinking of transferring at this time,” she said, “but maybe in the future I will go on to earn my bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.”

Sandra is focusing her career plans on working with drones to survey large construction projects. She has gained experience operating a DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone quadcopter in the CET program and enjoys exploring cutting-edge technology.

Sandra received a $1,500 Douglas Differt Difference Makers (D3M) Endowed Scholarship during fall semester 2019. Douglas Differt, PE, is a former MnDOT deputy commissioner and chief engineer who now serves as a transportation consultant with more than 50 years of experience in the public and private sectors.

Doug is the driving force behind the D3M Endowed Scholarship, which was established to inspire and empower future students interested in careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Sandra appreciates the scholarship and is looking forward to a prosperous career as a civil engineering technician.

“I have been very honored to have the opportunity to show all the great things I can do with all the help and resources I have been given,” she said.

More about Sandra…

Originally from Denver, Colorado, Sandra participates in TRIO Student Support Services at DCTC. She works two jobs while going to college full-time, 18 hours a week as a TCF relationship banker and 20 hours a week as the assistant manager at O’Reilly Auto Parts.

Sandra’s mom, Jacqueline, is a homemaker; her dad, Arturo, is a stoneworker. The family has one dog, a 7-year-old, black and brown Chihuahua named Puchis. When she’s not working or studying civil engineering, Sandra enjoys reading, watching movies and playing soccer. She also likes spending quality time with her parents since her schedule is very busy at all times during the week. Sandra resides with her family in Burnsville, Minnesota.

Drone technology introduced to CET program

Alan Hancock, an instructor in the Civil Engineering Technology program at Dakota County Technical College, recently introduced drone technology to the students in his program.

Alan purchased a DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone quadcopter as a new tool in a curriculum that covers CAD, civil drafting, land surveying, hydrology, materials testing, project management and much, much more. READ MORE…

DCTC News: How do you see drone technology influencing the future of civil engineering?

Sandra Contreras Lopez: Drone technology is helping land surveying by cutting time in the process. In the future, drones will help minimize human error and be able to see more in depth to recognize hazards in a structure, protecting workers and decreasing injuries. Those are just some of the benefits of drone technology.

View more photos by visiting:

CET Drone Demo on DCTC Flickr

Civil Engineering Technicians

Use principles of civil engineering to plan and design construction projects.
WAGE

This career pays above the statewide median of $20.07/hour

Minnesota

Median: $30.64/hour
High: $33.90/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $30.64/hour
High: $35.53/hour

OUTLOOK

This career is seeing high growth compared to other careers. Growth rate is 9.6 percent, or above the statewide average. There will be a need for about 2,362 new Civil Engineering Technicians to meet market demand between 2016–2026. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

Minnesota State CAREERwise Education

Sandra Contreras Lopez Q & A

Sandra Contreras Lopez

Sandra Contreras Lopez

Why did you choose DCTC?
When I moved to Minnesota from Colorado, I had family here who said they had heard great things about the college—so I did my own research and DCTC seemed like a great place to start.

What do you like best about the Civil Engineering Technology program?
The best part, in my opinion, is learning in detail how to use AutoCAD and being able to provide a picture of what the structure needs to look like.

Why did you choose civil engineering as your career field?
I have traveled to some of the prettiest places, and I would love to be part of those who create them, such as the Golden Gate Bridge. That to me is one of the most beautiful creations.

Three words that describe you as a college student:
DETERMINED. EXTROVERTED. ENERGETIC.

What is your greatest strength as a civil engineering student and future civil tech?
One of my greatest strengths would have to be that I learn extremely fast, and I have the passion to become better and make my parents proud with every move I make.

How do you see drone technology influencing the future of civil engineering?
Drone technology is helping land surveying by cutting time in the process. In the future, drones will help minimize human error and be able to see more in depth to recognize hazards in a structure, protecting workers and decreasing injuries.

What one word best describes your experience at DCTC?

UNFORGETTABLE

Sandra Contreras Lopez 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Soccer and baseball
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Germany
  3. Most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Snowboarding in the high mountains of Colorado
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Buy my parents a house 2) Start my own business 3) Donate to children’s hospitals and orphanages
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: The Walking Dead
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: Avengers: Endgame
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: I want to make my family proud in any way possible.
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Snowy owl
  9. Dream occupation: Civil engineer
  10. Person you would most like to meet: I don’t have a person I would most like to meet—I have everyone I need.
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Learn a third language, preferably German
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Deforestation
Learn more about Civil Engineering Technology at DCTC by contacting:

Alan Hancock
Civil Engineering Technology Faculty
651-423-8308