Putting the “Colorado State” in CSU

My name is Zach Kugler and I am a senior engineering student at Colorado State and I am pursuing a double major in Electrical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. As the term goes, I consider myself a true ‘native’ to Colorado where a large majority of my family was raised and currently resides. I grew up in Evergreen, a smaller town up in the lower mountains (about an hour west of downtown Denver) and later attended Chatfield Senior High School in Littleton, a southwest suburb of metropolitan Denver. Growing up, I always loved learning more about the human body as well as technology, mechanical systems, and computers and electronics–I was fortunate enough to attend public schools with teachers that understood the importance of this and helped to foster my curiosity and learning in these areas. Besides CSU having an engineering program that would allow me to continue studying BOTH of my passions, the main reason I chose to be a CSU Ram is because it would allow me to stay at home in Colorado.

It would have been hard for me to not lose steam in my classes through 5 years of engineering school without taking time outside of classes to ski, hike, camp, and fish. However, at CSU I don’t have to choose between the things I love–I get to do all of them!

For most engineering students, classes are difficult, homework is consuming, and at times the load can be overwhelming–this was something that I knew would be difficult for me. Before and even through high school, I was a competitive swimmer and would often put up to five hours each day into the pool. This kept me busy and required a lot of self discipline to excel both in athletics and academics. I was wise enough to not pursue full-fledged competitive swimming during my college career, knowing that it would not allow me to do anything else besides practice and study. In my first semester, I found that I had more time than I knew what to do with and, being away from home, it would be important for me to productively fill that time.

Aside from joining student government, volunteer organizations, and later Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity, I was able to continue to do many of the activities that I grew up doing–they make Colorado home to me. One of my favorite things that I am able to do because I live in Fort Collins is to go up to camp in Pingree Park and swim in Siemens Reservoir. Of course this isn’t as local as Horsetooth Reservoir. Besides the quick hike up to Horsetooth Rock, the reservoir recreation options are a great way to get away from campus and just relax. My personal favorite is to bring my hammock up and take a nap above the reservoir; I am also the ENO rep at CSU so I hammock on campus a lot as well. I also enjoy fly fishing in some of the local rivers and big game and bird hunting in many other parts of the state.

Another big part ‘Colorado living’ is skiing and snowboarding. Over breaks from school and even on some weekends, I will head up to the mountains to shred the powder. Compared to other schools in Colorado, CSU is not necessarily as close to the major ski resorts, however the extra drive time is almost always worth it. I use skiing as an incentive to get ahead in my assignments so that I will not fall behind if I choose to go to the mountains for a weekend–my favorite resorts to go to are Winter Park/Mary Jane, Copper Mountain, Steamboat, and Telluride, just to name a few of the world-class resorts that the state is known for! While the traffic and masses sometimes test my patience, I would recommend to every fellow Ram to take some time to try out skiing or boarding (or both like me). It’s a lifetime sport if you take the time to learn it, and like many other people, it is my favorite thing to do in the winter and spring months in Colorado.

There were many different things about CSU that drew me to the school four years ago, including the world-class engineering programs, the opportunity for involvement, and the Fort Collins community. But one of the most important reasons behind my love for CSU is that I can have such a successful college experience (in and out of classes) while still enjoying all of what the state has to offer me. It would have been hard for me to not lose steam in my classes through 5 years of engineering school without taking time outside of classes to ski, hike, camp, and fish. However, at CSU I don’t have to choose between the things I love–I get to do all of them!

Fort Collins: Home for a Lifetime

Hi! My name is Ryan Baeverstad and I am a Junior at Colorado State University studying a dual-degree in Biomedical Engineering and Chemical & Biological Engineering. I’ve lived in Fort Collins my entire life and both my parents and siblings are Rams, so naturally I am a die-hard Rams fan and our family practically bleeds green and gold. I also love to ski and golf. While at CSU, I’ve been able to pursue my interests and develop myself, both academically and socially, through numerous opportunities that the university offers. Some of these things include joining a fraternity, becoming involved in professional engineering societies, and playing intramural sports. Overall, I have had an incredible time at CSU thus far and am glad to be here for another couple years!

Having grown up in Fort Collins and having a family full of Rams, how was CSU a part of your life prior to actually attending the university?

Growing up in a college town, specifically Fort Collins, was an awesome experience. Having the university right in town meant that there was always a game to go, there were tons of concerts in Old Town, and always some kind of excitement in the air. Not only was there a lot of excitement coming from the university, but there’s just so much to do in Fort Collins in general. My weekends were always different – between taking ski trips only 2 hours away to tubing down the Poudre River to having a low-key night at home, nothing ever felt dull growing up. That’s what made it impossible to leave Fort Collins. Granted, I love my family so that’s an added bonus to have them close, but by no means was that the deciding factor. When comparing Fort Collins and CSU to other college towns, I couldn’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else.

Discuss why you chose to stay in state, but also in Fort Collins. Elaborate on the appealing factors of CSU that helped you make this choice:

I always knew that I wanted to stay in-state. Being a huge skier, I wanted mountains. Further, I love that Colorado has distinctive seasons. You get an actual fall, winter, spring, and summer, all allowing you to take advantage of that time to do something unique that the state has to offer. Finally, my family did factor into my decision. I am very close to them and being able to go home when I wanted to is very important to me.

However, I did think picking my school in Colorado would be a tough decision–between CSU, CU, and Mines, there are three very good engineering schools to attend. Surprisingly however, it wasn’t a difficult decision at all for me. Colorado State ended up being the best choice because of how much that the university has so much to offer students. To begin, the dual-degree Biomedical Engineering program at CSU is unlike anything I have seen at any other university; this is probably the largest factor behind my decision. CSU also has over 400 different student organizations and clubs available to join. I also like that Colorado State is a fairly large university of around 30 thousand students. It’s fun to have a diverse student population where I am not surrounded by engineering all the time – it gives students the opportunity to be friends with a multitude of different people with different backgrounds and experiences. Finally, Fort Collins is almost always nice here, particularly the weather with 300+ days of sunshine each year.

A lot of high school seniors entering college worry a lot about the distance they have from home. What is unique about CSU is that while you are on campus, it feels like a whole other world. I don’t feel like I’m in my hometown – I am at college. Once you get here, it is very easy to create your own distance. You can choose to have no contact with home for the entire semester or you can choose to go home everyday. I wouldn’t suggest doing either of those, but you do have the freedom of choosing. For myself, I knew it was important, especially staying in my hometown, to branch out from my connections from my upbringing and really reach out for different opportunities. For some students, it is hard for them to break away from home enough so that they can be fully immersed in the college experience. In that situation, I would not recommend staying too close to home. However, if you are confident in your ability to dive head-first into everything college can offer, despite being close to home, Colorado State will be the best decision you’ve ever made.

Since starting at CSU, what aspects of your life have changed and what has stayed the same about Fort Collins for you.

Fort Collins will always be home to me and that will always be true for me. However, since starting at CSU, my appreciation for Fort Collins has become more apparent to me. The friends you make in college are friends you will have for a lifetime. The three most important things in my life are my family, my friends, and my faith. All three of these things I have found while in Fort Collins and at CSU. While I may end up somewhere else after graduation, Fort Collins will always be the place where my most important relationships were made. I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

Emily Strack at Colorado State University

April, Left--Emily, Right
Ambassadors April and Emily

Hi! My name is Emily Strack and I am a sophomore studying Computer Engineering with a minor in Computer Science. I am originally from Sacramento, CA and as much as I love it back home, Colorado State University has given me an unforgettable experience so far. When I first visited CSU as a Sophomore in High School, I fell in love. As I continued to explore other colleges, CSU became the clear choice.  I love electronics and being able to configure them in different ways to then be able to program them to do different things which is why I chose to study Computer Engineering.  I also love to hike, ski, and explore the outdoors, so luckily for me Colorado has enough places to keep me busy.

Looking back, what were some of your favorite things about growing up in California?

In my opinion, growing up in Sacramento was the perfect location. It was only a 2 hour drive to either Lake Tahoe or San Francisco. I love to ski and I love to go to the bay area so it was the perfect set-up. There are also a lot of great places to hike near Sacramento and one of my favorites places is up in Auburn. Auburn is home to Lake Clementine and there is a trail to where you can explore an old bridge or hike up to the dam. Besides Lake Clementine, there are a bunch of different hikes within reasonable distance from Sacramento. I also love to travel and fortunately so did my family. We would take trips at least twice a year to different parts of California (mainly Southern), but one of my favorites is Disney Land. I’ve been to the happiest place on earth at least 6 times (plus Disney World twice) and I am just as excited now as I was when I was a little girl to go. I grew up in a baseball family, so one of my favorite things growing up and when I go home is to go to a baseball game. Ideally my parents and I would make a trip down to LA to the wonderful Dodgers Stadium, but sometimes we have to settle for regular AT&T park (home of the San Francisco Giants). My family is also a fan of hockey, so we’ll make the occasional trip to LA to see the Kings play or watch the outdoor series at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara. I loved growing up in California and I definitely would not trade that experience for anything, but I am so excited to see where CSU takes me and all of the great things I’ll get to experience in Colorado.

How did you learn about Colorado State University and what about the engineering program (ECE) attracted you to the school?

When I was looking at colleges, I knew I did not want to stay in California. I wanted my college experience to be different from what I had known growing up and for me that meant going out of state. I played competitive soccer in High School and I was fortunate enough to come out to Colorado for nationals. While I was here, my family and I visited CSU and I fell in love. The moment I stepped on campus, I felt comfortable, I felt at home. I was able to visit a few more times before I  had to make my decision in what college I would be attending and I fell in love more each time I came back. The Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) program here was exactly what I was looking for. You’re in a lab your first semester here working hands on and applying what you’ve learned in the classroom to actual circuits. I also enjoyed the idea of having to do a sophomore project and a senior design project. I am currently doing my sophomore design project and I am loving being able to apply what I have learned so far into a real world project.

What kind of challenges have you faced in moving to Fort Collins and being an out-of-state student?

Coming to Colorado has been a huge change for me, but not once have I regretted my decision to come out to CSU. College is a big transition on its own no matter where you go, so coming from out-of-state definitely had its challenges. Living on my own, with parents approximately an hour drive and a two hour flight away, was my first challenge. I knew one person at CSU, so I was a little nervous to meet new people and make new friends, but luckily for me, CSU felt like my second home after the first week living in the dorms. Sure I got homesick, but I met some of my best friends my first semester here and I had them to fill in for my family back in California. Freshman year flew by, so it felt like I was seeing my family quite often and they would also come visit me about once a semester outside of breaks. The weather definitely got to me the first winter I spent here. I would ski back home in Tahoe, but I never lived in the snow. I made sure to come prepared when I moved out here; I was not going to freeze my first winter here. I had all the right clothing, shoes, etc, but it was still way colder than anything I had ever experienced. After the first few days of snowing, I grew to love it (besides brushing off my car the morning after). The first semester is going to be a rough transition no matter what, but coming from out-of-state can be more difficult just by being farther away from family and having to adjust to a whole new atmosphere.

As a sophomore, what have been some of your favorite experiences so far (in ECE, at CSU, in Colorado, Chi-O, etc.)?

My first semester sophomore year I was taking ECE 251 which is Intro to Microprocessors. One of our labs was to use a microprocessor connected to an LED screen and we had to make the screen display our ram logo. Many hours were spent hooking up ports and writing code for it, but once the project was done, I felt accomplished. It was awesome being able to see that ram logo finally pop up on the screen and to know that I did that. It fascinates me that you can build a circuit and then be able to program it to do different things and that’s part of the reason why I love ECE so much. I joined Greek Life my first semester at CSU and it has been one of the best decisions I have made in college. I’ve met some awesome women both in my chapter as well as others and one of my favorite things that we do is our philanthropy event. My chapter, Chi Omega, works with the Make-A-Wish foundation and my spring semester freshman year we had our Wings for Wishes philanthropy event. Our wish child and his family was able to attend the event and when we had the wing eating contest, the little boy’s face just lit up. Seeing him smile and just how happy he was in that moment, made me realize how important my chapter was for me and that just making a difference in one kid’s life is worth every minute of the work and effort we put into that event. My favorite experience in Colorado was skiing in Vail this past winter break. It was my first time skiing in Colorado and man what a difference! I got to spend three days with my best friends in one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to so far in Colorado. I also enjoyed doing a sunrise hike up to Horsetooth with some of those same people my freshman year. There are a ton of places to explore in Colorado and I can’t wait to see what I’ll get to do next.

Looking forward, what are some things you are excited to one day experience in Colorado and at CSU?

Colorado State has this list of  70 things to do before you graduate. Some of them I have already completed, but I am looking forward to finishing out the list within the next two years. A few of the things I have yet to do that are on the top of my list are hike to the A, take a picture with CAM the Ram, and explore out Mountain Campus. I’m also looking forward to meeting more people. Each year I have met some amazing people who I know will be in my life hopefully til the end, so I look forward to making more of those friendships and meeting all different types of people here at CSU. Colorado is still new to me; I am still learning about all of the beautiful places it has to offer and I am excited to adventure to them during my time here. One of my goals is to go to most, if not all, of the ski parks during my time here.  I have a goal for this summer to hike at least three 14’ers and maybe even more. Both CSU and Colorado have so much to offer and I can’t wait to be able to explore them more.

Mauri Richards at Colorado State University

Hello! My name is Mauri Richards and I am a sophomore from Lakewood, CO. I am currently studying Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering — a dual degree in five years– here at Colorado State University.

Why did you choose to study Biomedical & Mechanical Engineering at CSU?

Honestly, biomedical and mechanical engineering fell into my lap right before I came to school! I had no clue what I wanted to study in college until the summer before I started at CSU. I was considering engineering because I wanted to be challenged in my studies and in my job for the future to come. I used to be a nanny for some family friends that own their own prosthetics company. I was fortunate enough to shadow them for a day and to see what amazing work that they did and I fell in love with prosthetics and wanted a degree that would allow me to help people. After doing some research to see what I could major in that would prepare me to work with prosthetics, a friend mentioned CSU’s dual-degree Biomedical Engineering program to me. This sparked my interest and I figured as far as degrees go, this would be a great place to start! I called CSU and declared my major the day before my orientation session over the summer.

Since starting at CSU, how have you become involved with the campus?

I have tried to be involved in as many clubs and groups around campus as I can, however, there are so many opportunities and I only have so much time! I am currently an officer for the Engineering College Council (ECC) here at CSU. ECC plans Engineering Days (a week in April where senior design projects are showcased along with other fun events for engineering students), distributes money among the other organizations in the college, and ensures that the college is updated on all of the events that are occurring in the various engineering programs and organizations. I work as the Leaders In Freshman Engineering (LIFE) director. LIFE is the main reason I got involved in ECC; it is centered on helping first year students get acquainted with all of the resources that they have on campus and doing fun things together. I am also involved in the University Facility Fee Advisory Board (UFFAB) which decides what construction proposals are funded by students’ university facility fees. Networking through friends and taking opportunities at the beginning of the year have really led me to where I am with all of my clubs!

I’m not always a nerd though! I have found that one of the best ways to be involved on campus is to just be here and talking with others. My friends and I dance the night away each week at swing dancing club. When the weather is nice I love to hang up my hammock by the lagoon with others that I have run into there doing the same thing! Attending workout classes at the Rec and climbing help keep me rounded outside of engineering courses and I usually end up meeting someone new every time I am there. 

What was your experience in engineering research and how do you approach getting involved with on-campus research programs?

In my first semester of my freshman year, I was lucky enough to volunteer at the Orthopedic Bone Research Lab here at CSU. I would have never expected that a research lab would have even considered bringing a first year student on to the team, but they did! Each week I was able to choose when I went into the lab and how much time I stayed to work. The lab was very easy to go to between classes because it was a short bike ride away from campus. I was able to learn about various new lab procedures and how to operate machinery that I still haven’t learned about in my classes (but will soon).  I was even able to scrub into and assist with surgery on a sheep! Although this was such a great learning experience, I learned that research is not for me. While I worked there, I longed for more human interaction: I guess I like talking too much! I would definitely recommend trying to get involved in a research lab at CSU! It helped me learn a lot about the type of work I want to be doing in the future and was a great resume builder.

My Introduction to Biomedical Engineering professor held an information session about how to get involved in research labs on campus during the first few weeks of school. If you would like to get involved, look out for those information sessions, or you can do what I did. First, I looked up all of the professors in mechanical and biomedical engineering at CSU and looked through the type of research that they were completing. This was a lengthy process but was definitely worth the time. I narrowed down the list of professors that I was interested in to about eight to ten people and furthered my research by reading some of their published papers on PubMed. This research allowed me to narrow my interest list to five different professors. I emailed each of those five professors explaining why I was interested in their lab and to see if they needed any more volunteers for the semester. If they do not get back to you, go to the others that you eliminated off the list and keep trying. Or email them again–they are busy people and appreciate students that take initiative. Good luck!

What would you recommend as on-campus housing options for incoming engineering students?

As an engineering student, I would definitely recommend living in an engineering residence hall or an engineering Residential Learning Community (RLC) freshman year. I lived in Corbett Hall my freshman year and my floor wasn’t very close-knit; it was a great home, but not a great place for me personally to meet people. The first time I went into the engineering residence hall in Academic Village (AV), it was like a whole new world! Almost everyone knew each other and I recognized a large amount of them because I had been seeing them in my classes. AV made CSU seem so much smaller; my classes went from a sea of strangers to people I saw in the residence hall all the time. Having a sense of community wherever you end up is almost essential! Being able to pop my head out of the study room and have several people there to help with homework or studying was always amazing. AV ultimately became my home and Corbett was just the place where I slept.

I would also recommend finding a separation between home and school in the dorms. For me, it was hard to relax and get out of the school mode because I was always on campus. I had to nail down times that I would only allow myself to relax in my room rather than continually doing homework–sometimes you just need a brain break! If you can’t find a separation, don’t be afraid to get off campus. I recommend City Park–I hammock there all the time to relax!

What are some of you favorite things to do in Fort Collins?

I don’t know where to even begin with this question! My friends and I have done so many fun things thus far. I love Fort Collins because not only is it a college town, but it’s also a family town. One of my favorite things to do is shop around in old town and people watch in the old town square. There is a great balance between family and fun in this town. Pinball Jones is a unique place with a very homey vibe to play arcade games and of course, pinball. Even though all of these are great activities, my absolute favorite thing to do in Fort Collins is go outside. I love going on walks, running, and hiking. I have walked from my apartment to many of the parks that are around town. I have hiked Horsetooth day and night and made my own trail a few times through Poudre Canyon! The Mishawaka is a very intimate concert venue up the Poudre Canyon, Horsetooth reservoir is nice for a swim, and Rocky Mountain National Park is only about an hour and a half away! I never get bored in Fort Collins– a town with a small and homey feel, yet a fast paced community. 

Looking forward in your curriculum and from what you have seen thus far, what are you the most excited about for your future in engineering?

I am excited for my MECH 200 class that I am currently enrolled in. This is a very challenging and hands on machining course that will allow me to see a side of mechanical engineering that I have not experienced before. We get to work hands-on with large machines and learn the value of accuracy and safety in machining environments. I am also looking forward to my BIOM 300 experimentation lab my junior year. I have heard great things about this class; for example, students are given a problem related to biomedical engineering and are not told to figure it out. Rather than going through lecture upon lecture of learning how to solve a problem, I get to attack it head on with my peers in our lab sessions and use problem solving techniques that I will learn about in class. Another class that I am looking forward to is Mechatronics. I am very excited to be able to complete a project that group members and I will work together on, from envisioning the idea through completion of the design prototype. As I am sure you have noticed, I love the hands-on courses which I have had thus far and am excited for more of those that are in my upcoming classes (there are a lot)!

Ryan Baeverstad at Colorado State University

Why did you choose to attend CSU even though you grew up in Fort Collins?

IMG_0519Colorado State has everything – simply put. It offers so many opportunities as a student, both academically and socially. I have been able to join several organizations, including a fraternity, engineering clubs, intramural sports, and faith organizations. We live right outside the mountains, allowing for a quick trip up to go skiing, mountain biking, hiking, anything. We have one of the best rec centers in the nation. Our classroom and lab facilities are incredible. The Biomedical Engineering dual-degree program is unlike anything I’ve seen across the country. From all of this, people would be crazy not to want to go to CSU – however living close to home often steers students away. Honestly, once you are on campus, it feels like another world. In a sense, you can be as close to home as you want it. If you want to visit home every day, by all means you can. But if you want distance, you can easily create that. I wouldn’t worry about whether or not CSU is close to home; worry about if you think CSU is the right fit for you.

What kind of personal help can you get for your studies at CSU?

It is so easy to get help at CSU. As a freshman engineering student, tutoring is offered every week day in your dorm on your most important classes; Calculus, Physics, etc. That really gives you no excuse to not get some help. You can roll out of bed in your PJ’s and still get the tutoring you need. Aside from that, the TILT building on campus also offers tutoring daily on any subject you need help in. My biggest advice to any student is to take advantage of office hours. All of your professors will offer office hours about once or twice weekly where you can use that time for any help you need. Review for tests, homework help, maybe you didn’t understand a lecture, whatever. Going to office hours will help you tremendously as well as help you build great relationships with your professors.

How does the honors program affect your studies at CSU?

The Honors program really has been awesome. It offers so many benefits to its students; a scholarship, priority registration, smaller class sizes, as well as seminars instead of some of the AUCC (All University Core Curriculum) credits you would need to get out of the way. The workload really hasn’t been overwhelming compared to other students. Some Honors classes may ask a little bit more out of their students, but from what I’ve found, being in a smaller class and having easier accessibility to those professors, its sometimes easier to succeed in the honors sections. Even if you’re debating Honors, I still recommend applying – if you drop Honors, it won’t be the end of the world. The program offers a whole lot for their students as well as puts you in a community of friends who are just as driven as you are.

What is freshman year like at CSU?

As a freshman in engineering, expect a lot of change. The majority of you probably have never taken an engineering class in your life. For me, this was hard. It was like learning a new language; completely foreign to me. My best advice – don’t give up, be persistent. Class sizes will be a lot bigger than you’re used to, probably overwhelm you the first week, but they really aren’t that bad – not something to worry about. The hardest thing freshman year for me was the first month. This was the first time living on my own (keep in mind I’m from Fort Collins – its still a big change). I had to find new friends. I had to find where I fit in and was happiest at. Advice here: put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to try new things. I thought joining an engineering club would be the nerdiest thing ever – I went to it, and ended up loving the opportunities there. I hadn’t ever really considered a fraternity – joined one and now its full of my best friends. I love intramural sports….I knew I would love that one though. Change is big, its scary, but also great. I had an absolutely incredible experience freshman year, largely due to how open I was to try things. There is so much this campus has to offer you, so take advantage of those opportunities and you will have a great year.

What are you involved with on campus?

Campus involvement is huge. If you want to enjoy college, be involved. Yes, going to college is for education – I totally agree with that, so make it your first priority. However, your not paying thousands of dollars every year just for class. You are paying for the entire experience, so take advantage of that. At CSU, there are over 400 organizations; join at least one. I have joined Greek Life, engineering clubs, faith organizations, IM sports, and am a student ambassador for the College of Engineering. I love all of these. They have introduced me to friends, helped develop me professionally, and all have been a blast.