Humans of the U: Kristen Carter

“For my first go-around at the U, I came here intending to major in medical laboratory science. I ended up working up at the Eccles Institute of Human Genetics for about two years before changing my major to athletic training, which I then graduated in. After graduation, I hoped to continue my medical education but decided to take a little time out to travel a bit first. One trip lead me to find work as a cattle wrangler on a ranch in Australia for a time.

I then joined the Navy and spent about three years in Naples, Italy, at a community-sized hospital working in inpatient services. It was a small hospital, so we only had one inpatient floor where we did everything. So, everything from surgical to behavioral health to pediatrics, we did. But the vast majority of our time was spent in labor and delivery and postpartum care.

After returning to Utah and having spent a decade in health care, I felt like I needed a change of pace so I decided to pursue a mechanical engineering degree. Engineering feels like a place where my skills and interests align. I’m now in my junior year and enjoy the research I do in the Multiscale Mechanics and Materials Lab, run by Dr. Ashley Spear. My work involves additively manufactured metals, which are essentially 3-D printed metals. There are a lot of ways to 3-D print metals and the specific technique that we’re looking at is called laser powder bed fusion. Where you have a powderized alloy that you shoot with a laser to melt the particles and fuse them together. So, we’re interested in the mechanical and fatigue properties of these 3-D printed metals. It’s really engrossing research!

Although challenging at times, returning to school at the U feels like coming home.”

—Kristen Carter, B.S. ’11; junior, mechanical engineering major

We’ll be featuring Humans of the U and sharing their stories throughout the year with the university community. If you know someone with a compelling story, let us know at ThisWeek@utah.edu.