Megan Andrade at Colorado State University

Hello! My name is Megan Andrade and I am a sophomore at Colorado State University from , California. I am studying Chemical And Biological Engineering (CBE) here at CSU and I am one of the Student Ambassadors for The Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering. I am also a Resident Assistant here at CSU.

As an out-of-state student, what drew you to CSU for engineering?

When I was considering different universities  during my college search, I had two majors in mind: I was either going to major in veterinary sciences or engineering. CSU has a great program for both of these majors and once I had decided to stay with engineering I needed to determine which of the engineering disciplines I wanted to study–when I was researching the different reaches of engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering (known as CBE at CSU) was the one that caught my eye and seemed to be the one that I would most enjoy. CSU is the only school that I was interested in that offered a Chemical Engineering program that also had a heavy focus on biology as well, hence the name. I also chose CSU because of my campus tour experience– I loved the campus and Colorado and ultimately could see myself living at CSU.

What about CBE was so appealing to you starting the program at CSU?

CBE was interesting to me before beginning college because I liked all the different fields and jobs that the degree could offer me. I also loved the fact that it was chemistry focused with a large immersion in biology as these have always been my two favorite areas of the sciences. This degree program drew me in because I ultimately want to end up researching and developing synthetic organs, reducing the need for organ donors. Having been a part of the program now for two years, I can confidently say that this program will help to prepare me to do just that!

Looking back, what was your first year in engineering like? Was it what you had expected?

My first year in engineering went really well for me in every aspect, however it took a lot of work and a handful of long nights studying. The friends that I made stayed up late with me studying for tests and doing homework–to this day, these are some of my best friends because of that shared experience freshman year. I lived in Academic Village: Engineering my first year and it was the best experience that I could have possibly had as an incoming freshman to engineering. I liked being surrounded by like-minded people that had the same goals, interests, and classes as me. I expected to spend much of my time doing homework and studying, which I did, but it was a pleasant surprise that (with the right time management and study habits) it is very possible to have a social life and be involved with many other things outside of just engineering course work!

What are you involved with on campus?

I am a member of the Society for Women Engineers (SWE) as well as the committee for outreach and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AiCHE). These are engineering focused organizations, but I have found that they are very helpful for professional development and networking as they will often bring in industry members to talk with us about various aspects of the Chemical Engineering industry, current innovations, and even ethics as an engineer. It is also fun to take trips to different engineering employers and see the different facilities–my favorite so far has been our visit to Woodward’s complex in Fort Collins. I am also a Resident Assistant (RA)  on campus so I live in the dorms with incoming freshmen every year and help them to make the same transition to CSU that I experienced my freshman year: I am currently an RA in Corbett Hall.

From what you know about your upcoming CBE curriculum, what are you most looking forward to?

I am looking forward to taking Heat and Mass Transfer, which I will be taking my junior year and I am also excited for the Introduction to the Transport Phenomena that I will take my senior year. I have heard that these classes are challenging, but the content of the class intrigues me and that is a reward in itself. I am also looking forward to taking more of the courses that have lab sections which allow me to  get hands-on with many of the engineering concepts and fundamentals that I learn in class.

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)!

Ben Lorden at Colorado State University

unnamedWhat set CSU apart from your other schools of interest?

I chose CSU because I wanted to be a part of a diverse community. I wanted to go to a school where I would be challenged academically in my program, but also where I could interact with students who are studying for different majors. I love that I can go to seminars and symposiums on other topics beyond the breadth of engineering because that makes me more knowledgeable about the world in which I live. There is more to life than engineering alone, at least in my mind, and I am thankful to get the chance to learn about other things I am interested in while I delve into engineering.

What are your interactions with other peers and professors like in class?

Some of the classes in the engineering school are a bit large but that was something that was not too hard to get used to. It is awesome that every class that is offered in engineering is taught by a professor who is knowledgeable in their field and who wants to help us become the best engineers possible. One thing that I do to make the classes seem smaller is to sit in the first few rows of the class. This allows me to interact with the professor and have the professor know me. If a professor sees you putting in work, they will want to help you succeed. If they do not see you putting forth much effort, they will be less inclined to put effort into developing your understanding of the material. I have found that in the classes where I apply myself the most, the professors are great at helping me, even if it is outside of class on their own time. The professors I have had is one of my favorite things about the program!

What is your workload like as an engineering student?

Engineering is hard. There is no way around that fact. I have found that it is not so much a test of intelligence but one of work ethic. I have met a lot of people who were much more intelligent than I, but engineering was too hard for them because they did not want to put in the work that it takes to succeed as an engineering student. That being said, you can look below to find the other things that I have been able to be involved with around campus. I need to prioritize my time very well, but it is possible to do other things outside of your engineering curriculum. I have spent many weekend nights studying, doing homework, or working on projects, but I also do plenty of fun things. It is not overwhelming if you stay on top of things and make sure that you do something which will help relieve stress when necessary.

In what ways are you involved with the campus?

I have been able to be involved in many different things here on campus. My first year here I played Club Volleyball, which was a blast. It was less serious than high school sports but was still competitive and it was a fun way to stay active. Later on I became an Resident Assistant (RA) on campus, which has been a great opportunity to pour into people and have an impact on my community here. That takes up a lot of my time here, but I still find ways to stay active at the Rec Center or out on the beautiful running trails throughout Fort Collins. I also have found a great church near campus and have found a great community through that. Finally, I love working for the College of Engineering as a student ambassador. I enjoy the opportunity to assist people and to have the opportunity to talk about CSU, the campus, the community, and the engineering programs here.

As an RA, which housing options are most beneficial to freshmen in the engineering program?

As a Resident Assistant on campus, I work to make sure that the residents living on campus are comfortable, safe, and feeling at home within the residence halls. I have lived on campus for three years now, and I know that there are several places to live that would be great for engineering students. The first hall that I would recommend is the Engineering residence hall in Academic Village (AV). AV is one of the newest living spaces and the Engineering residence hall is a beautiful building with a great community. It is awesome to be able to live with people in the same classes so that you can study together, surround yourself with a driven group of students, and spend time with peers who share the same interests as you. Another building in the Academic Village complex is the Honors Building. This is a great place as well because everyone takes there studies seriously, but they are from many different backgrounds and studies and again, share many similar interests. This is a cool option because it makes your education multi-faceted and you can learn things about topics beyond the general scope of engineering through being a part of the honors program.

Currently I am an RA in Braiden Hall were every student is a part of a Key Community, which is another opportunity to find a group of students who are committed to learning together. There are several different Key Communities, including: Key Health, Key Academic, Key Explore, Key Service, and Key Plus. These communities have an emphasis on different things, but it is a great chance to be with people who have similar values and interests.

The other building that I have lived in during my time here at CSU is Laurel Village. This is the newest set of buildings and has a very similar feel to Academic Village. I would not say that there is a huge difference between the halls, but it was like staying at a really nice hotel every night! I would recommend Academic Village over Laurel Village because there are fewer resources for engineering students within Laurel Village, but it was still a great place to live!