UW-Platteville helps launch Koenig’s career in renewable energy

It has been less than a year since Katie Koenig graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and her career is already reaching new heights – from job sites in Washington and New Mexico to the occasional top of a wind turbine. Koenig, a field engineer for Blattner Energy, attributes much of her success to opportunities UW-Platteville gave her to discover her interests and build her skills, both inside and outside the classroom. 

Originally from Wausau, Wisconsin, Koenig began her college career at UW-Madison. She made the decision to transfer to UW-Platteville her junior year, where she continued studying mechanical engineering.

“I chose to come to UW-Platteville because it was far cheaper than UW-Madison for the same quality of education,” said Koenig. “UW-Platteville gave me really good hands-on experience in small class sizes that allowed me to learn so much more than I would have in a large lecture setting. It also allowed me to graduate on time and have educational experiences, including study abroad.”

These experiences included involvement in a co-op, the Women in EMS Mentorship Program, and a variety of clubs, including three years with the Women’s Rugby Club.

Koenig received multiple job offers prior to graduation. She accepted the position with Blattner Energy, which she secured at the university’s spring Career Fair. Within three weeks after graduation, Koenig was already on her first job site in Washington. 

Koenig is currently working on a project in southeast New Mexico, building 377 turbines that stand from 80 to 114 meters tall. 

“The overall generation will be 1,050 megawatts, which is enough to power about 600,000 homes,” said Koenig. 

Koenig’s day-to-day tasks vary, but overall she is responsible for tracking the construction progress, communicating with the project owner and turbine manufacturer, scheduling crews, and ensuring that the correct equipment and tools are on the job site. 

“My favorite part of my job is when I get to climb wind turbines and actually assist in the construction itself,” said Koenig. “There is no better learning opportunity than a hands-on learning opportunity.”

Koenig said that there were several experiences at UW-Platteville that proved to be largely beneficial to her position today.

"I learned more about power generation and what ‘real life’ engineers do from [my co-op experience] than I ever could have in a classroom and it really launched my career in the right direction.” – Katie Koenig '20

“The most valuable things that UW-Platteville gave me were the opportunities for growth and leadership and good time management skills,” said Koenig. “I currently work for a job that requires long hours and at least six days a week. There are so many things that need to be done each week, so good time management is essential. The engineering program at UW-Platteville really taught me how to manage my time well and gave me the skills to prioritize the order I need to do my work in.”

The opportunity to study abroad, which she did in Newcastle, Australia, also benefits her today.

“Studying abroad was important for my current career because it showed me that I’m okay to travel alone and do work remotely,” said Koenig. “My current job requires that I move anywhere in the United States every six months or so, and I travel for training quite a bit. I really fell in love with traveling and got into a groove with moving around constantly.”

Perhaps most importantly, Koenig said, is that her co-op at UW-Platteville gave her the chance to discover the professional field she wanted to enter.

“UW-Platteville helped me secure the opportunity to co-op with Wisconsin Public Service at a coal fired power plant,” said Koenig. “This was a big stepping stone because it narrowed down my job field to power generation. Once I knew that power generation was the route I wanted to go, deciding to go to renewables was an easy choice. I learned more about power generation and what ‘real life’ engineers do from this experience than I ever could have in a classroom and it really launched my career in the right direction.”