“After researching graduate programs throughout the country, I quickly came to the conclusion that conducting my graduate studies through the distance learning program at my alma mater was the best option.”
Matthew Meyer’s achievements and his commitment to earning his master’s degree were recognized when he was recently awarded the Dawn Drake Excellence in Distance Education Scholarship. Since graduating with his Bachelor of Science in Engineering from UW-Platteville in 2002, Meyer has worked for River Valley Testing Corporation in Neenah and Green Bay, Wis.
“I was starting to get to a point in my career where I felt my skills were plateauing a bit, and I had more complex projects that didn’t fit the mold of the idealized design scenario all the time,” Meyer said. “I talked it over with my family in great detail because it was going to be a big commitment, and they encouraged me to get started.”
Meyer did more than get started. With his family’s encouragement and support, in the fall of 2010, he took Advanced Finite Element Methods and Linear Algebra. He studied 4-6 hours a day on weekdays and 6-8 hours on Saturdays and Sundays, leaving him very little free time.
“After that first semester, I realized I didn’t need to go quite that fast,” Meyer said. “My son was just a few months old at that time. Now that he’s two, some of my more enjoyable moments during my studies are when he crawls up on my lap while I’m working. His random tapping of numbers on my calculator and his pretending to read my textbook keep me pushing forward with a smile on my face.”
Meyer’s dedication has also impacted his eleven-year-old daughter, who has improved her own study habits and grades as a result of her father’s commitment. Meyer, who currently has a 4.0 GPA, plans to take a summer and a fall course and graduate in December.
“Advice I have, particularly if you have a family, is to be up front with them immediately so they understand the demands,” Meyer said. “Share your study schedule so they have an understanding of when you’re busy – and if you’re done early, great. If you don’t set that schedule, it can be a challenge to manage the expectations of your family and your expectations for the class and what you want to get done.”
Meyer’s careful planning has been just one piece of his success.
“Matt submitted work of a highly professional level that was easy to read, progressed in a logical manner, explained his thought process as he progressed through the solution to the problem, and summarized the results,” said Mark Meyers, UW-Platteville Professor of Engineering and fellow geotechnical engineer. “Matt was the natural leader in my class. He exhibits professionalism and superior technical writing skills as evidenced in the technical reports he submitted, but also in the course discussions and paper reviews. This is likely a carryover from his professional experience and his UW-Platteville undergraduate experience.”
Meyer’s employer has been encouraging and supportive as well, and has already benefited from his efforts. “The geotechnical classes have been very beneficial – especially the geosynthetics class, which opened my eyes to all the products available and the applications for them. While I had some background in many of the geotechnical topics, the classes provided me with a heightened understanding and some immediate results that I could directly apply to my daily work,” Meyer said.
“I’ve now accumulated eight years as a UW-Platteville student and both my undergrad and graduate student experiences have been very positive. I think the education has been top-notch, and it has helped me tremendously. It’s shaped me as a person and professionally,” Meyer said.
-- Christine Hawkinson