By Cary Shuman
Kristin Bartone said she was inspired to study engineering after participating in a popsicle stick bridge competition while a student at the Winthrop Middle School.
“I think we did this project in sixth grade in a wood chop class, and that’s why I became an engineer,” said the now 22-year-old Bartone who graduated from UMass/Lowell in May with a degree in civil and environmental engineering. “We also used some software and that was the first time that I was exposed to any kind of engineering. I knew right away that was what I was going to do the rest of my life.”
She excelled at Winthrop High School as a top student in the Class of 2013 and chose UMass/Lowell over a number of other top universities.
“UMass/Lowell definitely had the most hands-on program with a lot of different opportunities,” said Bartone. “It’s a great engineering school, and at the time, they were the only university with a plastic engineering program.”
Bartone was a Dean’s List student at Lowell and received a major award, the Chancellor’s Medal for Community Service, upon her graduation. The prestigious honor is awarded to students who have made significant contributions to the public good (volunteer efforts which benefit the Greater Lowell community, other communities, or other organizations) and thus have brought credit to themselves, the university, and the larger community.
The award, which was presented during a commencement eve gala, was a fitting one for Bartone, who showed her commitment and dedication to community service by participating in a number of projects during her career at UMass/Lowell. Bartone also had the high honor of sitting on stage during the commencement ceremonies.
Bartone participated in the Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge program, was a member of the executive board for the American Society of Civil Engineers, led the Merrimack Walkway Project, and served as coordinator for an engineering project in a Lowell school.
“I developed an idea for a design activity associated with engineering and we brought together UMass Lowell students to execute the project with third and fourth graders in the classroom,” said Bartone. “It was rewarding to see the kids’ expressions and making them feel good about what they were learning.”
What inspired Bartone to make community service an integral part of her academic experience at UMass Lowell?
“I felt it was important to give back to the university and the Lowell community,” said Bartone. “Lowell offered me so much that I felt that I should give back to others and definitely impact some people while I was a student there.”
Her participation in community service traces back to Winthrop High where she was involved in the Relay to Life project, the WHS Student Council and school clubs, and other endeavors. She competed for the WHS gymnastics team and placed second in the state in the balance beam before a hip injury ended her competitive career. Her gymnastics coach and mentor was Peter Gobiel (“He was a huge, positive influence,” she says).
At UMass/Lowell, Bartone took a rigorous curriculum, consisting mostly of mathematics, science and engineering courses.
“There are four parts to civil engineering: structural, soil, environmental, and transportation, and I took classes in all of those,” said Bartone. “There was a lot of math and some hands-on-labs. I would absolutely recommend UMass/Lowell to high school students interested in the sciences and engineering.”
Bartone spent some of her spare time at the Tsongas Center watching the Division 1 UMass/Lowell hockey team.
During her junior year, Bartone had an internship with the Middlesex Corporation. The company offered her a full-time position during her senior year and she is now based in Beverly working as a field engineer.
Bartone credits the Winthrop High faculty for providing a strong foundation in mathematics and science and advancing her on a track toward the study of engineering in college.
“I took AP (Advanced Placement) calculus with Mr. [Jeff] Beck and he was a great teacher,” said Bartone, who had a 3.7 grade point average. “I always had really good teachers in high school. We also had a very smart class with a lot of great, competitive kids.”
Kristin is the daughter of Lawrence and Jean Bartone. “They’ve done for everything for me. They’ve been through the ups and downs and have given every opportunity they possibly could for me to excel. My whole family, especially my grandmother, Theresa Mazzone, my aunt, Denise Mazzone, my uncle, Louis Mazzone, has been very supportive.”
Though her new job is keeping her busy, Kristin said she hopes to continue her work in community service projects.