We Are ISU: Snapshots of Student Life


Introduction       1869-1898       1899-1928       1929-1958       1959-1988       1989-2018      2019

Enineering Career crowd at Hilton


New Frontiers (1989-2019)

By the 1980s, Iowa State University was committing additional resources to support student retention and address specific concerns of student groups. The Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity, The Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success, and the Program for Women in Science and Engineering were all established in the 1980s and early 1990s. In the following decades, ISU also expanded space dedicated to the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and took over ownership of the Black Cultural Center. These actions are in addition to the many improvements to residential living, recreation, and food service facilities that have been implemented during this time period.

Student Spotlight: Tracy Brinkmeyer, B.S. (2003)

Tracy Regan Brinkmeyer between father and mother at Hilton graduation


Tracy Brinkmeyer grew up in Eldridge, Iowa, located on the eastern edge of the state. She enrolled at Iowa State University in 1998 as a freshman in the pre-mechanical engineering program. As a student, Tracy was involved in several programs that supported women pursuing degrees in STEM fields. These included the Association of Women in Science, Women in Science and Engineering, Girls Engaged in Math and Science, and the Society of Women Engineers. She also participated in an early residence hall learning community for mechanical engineers. Tracy served as an E-Week (Engineering Week) Ambassador and as a judge for the Iowa State University Science Fair. The summer before her final year of classes, Tracy worked as an engineering intern for Boston Scientific, a medical device company in Maple Grove, Minnesota.1 Tracy accepted a job with the company in 2003 after she completed her degree in mechanical engineering.




Snapshot of Campus in 2003:

  • President: Gregory Geoffrey
  • Student Population: 27,380 students (15,454 men and 11,926 women)
  • New Campus Buildings: Howe Hall (1999), Frederiksen Court Apartment Buildings (2000), Palmer Building (2000), Eaton Hall (2002), Jischke Honors Building (2002), Union Drive Community Center (2003), and Gerdin Business Building (2003)

Student Life

cover of Program for Women in Science and Engineering


Program for Women in Science and Engineering annual report


The Program for Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) was established at Iowa State University in 1987. The program encourages female students to pursue engineering and science careers and provides guidance to young women in these fields.2 This report is from well after Tracy graduated from school, but it illustrates the types of programming that WISE supports and may have been available while she was a student.










Crowd shot of Engineering Career Fair at Hilton


Engineering Career Fair in Hilton Coliseum


For decades the College of Engineering has supported its students with a dedicated Career Services Office. One of the highlights of the year for job-seeking students is the Engineering Career Fair. By 2005, the ISU Engineering Career Fair was touted as the largest indoor engineering career fair in the country.3 The 2003 scene shown here illustrates what Hilton Coliseum looks like when students and recruiters create their own Hilton Magic.






Academics – Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering is one of Iowa State University’s oldest and largest academic programs. In fact, Iowa State’s first graduate, Edgar Stanton, received his degree in the discipline of “mechanic arts including mechanical engineering.” During the 2003 academic year, the University awarded nearly 170 undergraduate degrees in mechanical engineering.4

a page from Tracy Brinkmeyer's dynamics exam.


Notes for a dynamics exam


The mechanical engineering curricula at Iowa State, as in most other schools that teach engineering, relies heavily on using mathematics to model the world around us. These notes were used by Tracy to study for an exam in dynamics and they demonstrate Tracy’s ability to apply mathemaacal models to objects in motion.











World Events – September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks

Crowd at September 11 Remembrance Day


September 11 Day of Remembrance 


Fear and concern from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States was still evident on Iowa State’s campus a year later when these students gathered on central campus for a day of remembrance. 









Cover of Celebrating the Human Spirit event.


September 11 Day of Remembrance poster


This poster describes an event that was held on September 11, 2002, called Celebrating the Human Spirit.









Campus Events

Central campus VEISHA crowd with Curtiss Hall in background


Central campus during VEISHEA 2003





This image shows part of central campus during VEISHEA 2003. Starting in the 1980s, the celebration became known for its large off-campus parties and student riots. Despite many attempts by students and community leaders to return VEISHEA to its educational roots, a riot in 2014 would prove to be too much and the celebration was discontinued permanently.









ISCORE 2000 cover


Iowa State University Conference on Race and Ethnicity (ISCORE) 2000 program


The first ISCORE was held in the spring of 2000. Modeled after the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity program, ISCORE is a forum for the ISU community to discuss issues related to race and ethnicity.