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Thriving in the classroom and on the court

Mechanical engineering majors Abbi and Maddi Barickman ’25 balance being student-athletes

Nov 03, 2023

Abbi (top) and Maddi (bottom) Barickman

Abbi and Maddi Barickman ’25 are identical twins who are making the most of their time at North Central by studying mechanical engineering while also playing on the women’s volleyball team. To succeed as student-athletes and prepare for life after college, they take advantage of opportunities to interact with supportive faculty and engage in rich academic experiences.

Both Abbi and Maddi Barickman were drawn to North Central because of the excellent engineering program, ideal class sizes for creating connections with professors and other students, as well as the opportunity to be on the women’s volleyball team.

Maddi said: “The engineering program stood out to me because of the wide range of research and industry experience that all the professors bring to the program. Their experience and guidance have helped me choose the direction for my future following graduation.”

Last summer, the two spent considerable time in the Wentz Center for Health Sciences and Engineering working on research with Dr. Shan-Ju Chiang, associate professor of mechanical engineering. This research focused on testing materials for potential use in alternate energy storage systems. The two hope to present their findings at a professional conference in spring 2024.

“The College has put a lot of effort into making the manufacturing lab an ideal learning space for engineering students, and I am excited to get the chance to use it while completing my independent and capstone projects,” Abbi said.

While both successfully balance studies, volleyball and having a social life, Abbi and Maddi say they are grateful for campus resources that help with time management.

“The most helpful resource I have used is going to the professor's office hours. I typically attend them weekly for help with homework or to catch up on material if I’ve missed class for a game,” said Maddi.

In addition, each Cardinal athletic program has faculty mentors to support student-athletes in the classroom. The women’s volleyball team is served by Dr. Jon Mueller, professor of psychology emeritus, and Dr. Patricia Schacht, associate professor of psychology.

The Cardinal volleyball team is having a historic season, posting the most wins since 2015. They also set a new program attendance record in their 3-0 sweep of Concordia University Chicago. With nearly 2,000 career assists, Maddi has broken into the top 10 on the Cardinal record books.

“Being a part of the women’s volleyball team at North Central has given me a second family. We all support and push each other to be the best versions of ourselves, and I have grown as a student and an athlete because of this,” Abbi said.

Following graduation, Abbi and Maddi each plan to pursue engineer positions in an industrial or manufacturing setting. Until then, the Cardinal duo will continue working to excel in the classroom and on the court.

Learn more about majoring in mechanical engineering at North Central College.