Purdue CE Undergrad Spotlight — Jenna Palka

Jenna said she chose civil engineering at Purdue University because she loved the sense of community she felt. And, after seeing how impactful Civil Engineering is on the world, Jenna said she knew that it was the school for her.

Hometown: Winfield, Illinois

Current year: Senior

Why I chose Purdue Civil Engineering

The reasons why I chose civil engineering at Purdue University largely stem from when I first visited campus as a high school student. The sense of community I felt right away when I came here just blew me away. Everyone was so welcoming and passionate, I knew it was a place I could thrive and support others in doing the same.

I always knew I wanted to pursue some sort of STEM degree and after taking a few civil engineering courses and seeing how impactful it is on the world, I knew this was the school for me. Civil engineering affects so much around us and can be used to improve the lives of many people around the world.


Jenna Palka, a senior in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, is set to graduate this spring with a concentration in Hydraulic and Hydrologic Engineering.

Emphasis area

My emphasis area is in Hydraulic and Hydrologic Engineering. I was initially drawn to it because of its ties to the engineering grand challenge of providing everyone in the world sustainable access to potable water. As I continued my studies I only became further interested as we studied issues like pollutants in water, how we can cope with sea level rise, and marine renewable energy. These topics are all of great interest to me, and I am eager to further pursue them.

Jenna is a section leader on the Purdue All-American Marching Band.
Jenna is a section leader on the Purdue All-American Marching Band.

More than just a place to study

What I really love about Purdue is how the many opportunities available encourage you to do more than just spend every last hour of your day on studying.  For instance, outside of my academic interests I am involved in several student groups and have studied abroad in Colombia, participated in research, as well as performed in several ensembles at Purdue including the “All-American” Marching Band. The best part is being able to connect with friends across campus who are involved in many different niches and fields of study. I’m always learning more about broad variety of activities on campus and really appreciate how there’s so much to do and so many ways to connect with others who share your interests and pursue additional passions.

After I graduate

Once I earn my civil engineering degree, I will be entering the career field. I have already accepted a position with Emerson Electric in their Engineers in Leadership program. This will be a great opportunity to learn about the industry from engineering, business, and other perspectives.

Jenna is a section leader on the Purdue All-American Marching Band.
Jenna is a section leader on the Purdue All-American Marching Band.