April Hammond Berkol '85/'88


New York, NY

Degrees earned from WPI:

BS in Mechanical Engineering, MS in Fire Protection Engineering

Graduate degrees if from an institution other than WPI:

BA in French Language and Literature, Boston University; MA in French, Assumption College

How and why did you choose to attend WPI?

I grew up at WPI (my dad was a professor of mechanical engineering). It has the best undergraduate engineering program and it had the only master’s program in FPE at the time.

Current employer:

Zurich Insurance

Job title:

Senior Risk Engineer

Did your studies at WPI helped prepare you for your current job?

Categorically and emphatically, YES!

How did WPI’s philosophy of Theory and Practice, and working with teams, prepare you for facing challenges in the workplace or graduate school?

It was absolutely essential to working in the real world – everything is done in teams nowadays, no one can know everything about any given job. Learning how to apply theoretical knowledge – “book learning” – in real-world applications was also critical to succeeding in the work world.

Did a particular WPI professor have a significant impact on your studies or in your life?

First and foremost, my dad, who told me I could do it and supported me the whole time. Outside of the family, Professor David Lucht was the one person who kept encouraging me and finding ways for me to fund my studies. He helped me find my first two jobs. Choosing one person who had a significant impact is not enough, however. Professor Bob Fitzgerald was the first person to talk to me about FPE and help me decide on the courses I should take to prepare for and then do the work for the master’s in FPE. They gave me the tools and showed me the way to becoming a good engineer. I’m not there yet, still working on it!

Additional information you would like to include:

The direction WPI is taking under President Berkey is probably the most exciting thing that has happened to WPI since The Plan was created and implemented. I was a young child, doing my homework in the WPI library in the basement of Alden Hall, under the watchful gaze of Mrs. Schoonover [Bonnie-Blanche Schoonover, former WPI librarian] when I first came on campus. In those days WPI was for young men, not girls. I swam in Alumni Gym’s pool, danced my first waltz with my dad at the ROTC ball in Alden Hall, went sledding in Alumni Field (very short run but still loads of fun), it was and in some ways is still my home. I watched the campus grow and change with the construction of new dorms, new classroom buildings, etc., and all of this makes me proud to be an alumna!

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