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!

Nate Deanda at Colorado State University

 

Why did you decide to go to CSU and study Civil Engineering?image1 (1)

I actually chose to go to CSU before I decided to study engineering. I wanted to go to a place that had a good community and was a nice distance from home, not too close but also not too far away. Being from Arvada, Colorado, I didn’t want to go to any of the colleges nearby in Denver, Golden, or Boulder so Fort Collins was just the right place. I was very impressed with the atmosphere surrounding Colorado State, and from the very first time I set foot on campus I felt like CSU was the right place for me.

The next step was choosing a major. I won’t lie–I was not one of those seniors in high school who knew exactly what they wanted to do.  In fact, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to study in college. I had an interest in architecture and buildings and I was pretty good at math and science, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to study engineering because I thought it would be way too hard. It wasn’t until I had a good conversation with my high school Physics teacher, who studied aerospace engineering at CU, that I decided I wanted to be an Engineer. He told me to go for it and if engineering was too hard I could always change my major. So after sending my application, I called the admissions office at CSU and told them that I would like to change my selected major from ‘Undecided’ to ‘Civil Engineering.’ I got into the Scott College of Engineering just fine and am now well on my way to becoming a civil engineer.

How difficulty are your courses in engineering?

School is very challenging as an engineering student. It’s not as hard as what I was expecting in high school, but my college major has pushed me to work to achieve my full potential. An engineering degree isn’t something many people can earn on their own; the difficulty of the classes has forced me out of my own personal “study bubble” and caused me to study in groups or with friends. For an engineering student, academic life and social life mix a lot. I have met some of my best friends at CSU through classes, becoming friends because we chose to spend so much time studying together. School is hard, but for me the academic challenge of engineering has helped me to realize my own strengths and have made me a better student for lifetime full of learning.

Do you meet many people outside of engineering at CSU?

Absolutely! One of the things I love about CSU is the fact that it is a large university with a lot of different types of people. The College of Engineering is a small college within a big university. There are so many ways to get involved on campus and meet all kinds of different people who are studying all sorts of majors. One of the former associate deans for the College of Engineering told me that “it’s important for engineers to meet real people” and CSU definitely provides you with an opportunity to do that. I have met a lot of aspiring engineers at CSU and also many others who want to be veterinarians, mathematicians, social workers, journalists, police officers, nurses, lawyers, farmers, businessmen, teachers, politicians, doctors, musicians, geologists, and many others!

What are you involved with on campus at CSU?

As a Ram, I have done many things to be involved and keep connected outside of academics. My freshman year I had a great experience playing the tuba in the CSU Marching Band. I have also been involved with a church group, FOCUS Bible studies, concert band, greek life, residence hall council, and student employment opportunities, such as my position as a Student Ambassador for the College of Engineering. The most fulfilling thing I have had the privilege to be involved with at CSU is my position as a Resident Assistant. Being an RA has been a great way for me to be a student leader and make a positive difference on the CSU community. I have also met some of my closest friends and made some of my favorite memories of college from being an RA.

What made you choose Civil Engineering over any other concentration of engineering?

Before I had decided on engineering, I wanted to be an architect; I’ve always been interested in buildings, bridges, and structures and I thought that architecture was the best way to pursue that. However, after looking into it, I found that I was not visually artistic enough to be an architect. I found that civil and structural engineers do a lot of the same work I was interested in but with more of a mathematics and physics approach to structural design and it is also easier to find work and secure a job as an engineer. Simply put, an architect draws out what to build and an engineer figures out how to build it.

After being in the major for almost two years now, I have become even more interested in what a civil engineer can do. It is one of the most broad fields of engineering and there are a many different things that a civil engineer can work with, such as structures, water systems and water quality, foundations, geotechnics, traffic, wind engineering, concrete design, and more. Initially, I was interested in structural engineering at the start of college, but after being in the major for a while, I have gained a newfound interest in geotechnical engineering and I would not be surprised if I end up doing geotechnical work as a professional engineer after graduating from CSU.

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.

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)!

April Rieger at Colorado State University

Why did you choose to attend CSU?

image1When I first started looking at colleges I knew I wanted to stay in Colorado, so I only looked at CU and CSU. I took tours of both campuses but still wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. I think what really made my decision was Engineering Exploration Day. Getting to talk to the professors, see the engineering facilities, and tour through the engineering dorms really showed me what studying engineering at CSU would be like. I could see myself living in the academic dorms and walking through the plaza on my way to class. Campus didn’t feel intimidating to me it felt very comfortable which was really important to me. Both schools have great engineering programs and excel academically so for me my decision was more based on where will I enjoy living and studying for the next four to five years. I couldn’t have made a better decision and love living in Fort Collins and attending CSU.

What was appealing to you about Mechanical Engineering that made you pursue it as your degree?

After I decided to study engineering (I really liked Calculus and Physics in High School) I was trying to decide between Civil and Mechanical engineering. I really wanted to go into Aerospace engineering but CSU didn’t have the program and I didn’t want my degree to be so narrowly focused. I’ve always been interested in the way things work and are put together and after taking Engineering 101 I knew that Mechanical Engineering would be more interesting to me. With this degree I will be able to apply it to a number of different industries and projects instead of being stuck in one field. I hope that one day go back and get a Master s in Aerospace engineering but if I decide differently my degree will still be useful.

What is your work load like as a mechanical engineering student?

In terms of the work load it has depended on what classes I am taking that semester, how much I am involved in, and the professor. My first year in the engineering program has definitely been the easiest. The work load was not the lightest but there was a lot of repetition with classes I took in High School. My second year was a lot harder. The classes start to become all engineering classes and I also became involved in things more outside of school. The third year has been the busiest so far but not the hardest. The transition to harder classes was hard my sophomore year but now I know how to handle it. In terms of how much work is assigned it is expected that all engineering classes will have homework assigned every week. If I have classes with a Lab I will have a lab report due every week and could also be assigned group projects that require out of class time. The farther into a mechanical degree the more group projects and labs that will require additional time outside of class. Engineering is hard but it is possible with discipline and work ethic.

What are you involved with on campus at CSU?

My freshman year I was not involved in anything outside of engineering, so come my sophomore year I wanted to make sure that I had more going on than just engineering. I really wanted to get involved with the college and had friends working as student ambassadors. I have loved being a student ambassador because I get to help prospective students see how awesome CSU and studying engineering is. While it was important to me to be involved in the college I really wanted to get to know more people in different majors, so I joined a sorority. Joining a sorority has definitely been one of the best decisions of my college career. I have made some incredible friends and I have had the opportunity to do things I never would have imagined. I have been able to do philanthropy work, give back to the community, and now hold a leadership position as Vice President. These things paired with engineering keep me very busy, but I really loved being involved and working hard.

What statistics about The College of Engineering at CSU would be useful to students searching for schools?

  • Five Year Average (2009-2013) of Graduates with an Internship: 70%
  • 40% of 2013 Graduates were hired for a full time position by Internship Organization
  • 93% of 2013-2014 Graduates had plans for after graduation (67% employment, 25% continuing Education)

For students in the engineering program generally the summer after their Junior Year is when internships are most common. By then they have three years of engineering classes under their belt and employers are looking at interns they can hire for a full time position. Before applying for jobs and meeting with employers, students often use the resume review and mock interview resources the Student Success Center provides. In addition the College of Engineering Hosts two Engineering Career fairs, one in the fall and one in the spring. Some students choose to do a co-op where they take a semester off to work for a company. As the stat above states, sometimes summer internships turn into full time positions. Employers look at the internships and jobs students have held in college, any leadership positions or involvement they have, and GPA when considering them for a position.

Melissa James at Colorado State University

How did you know you wanted to study Civil Engineering?

P1040472When I started applying to college, I honestly did not have any idea of what I wanted to do “when I grew up”.  I had taken a bunch of personality tests that told me I could be anything from a garbage person to a baker.  I decided to go into Civil because that is what my dad does, and I enjoyed the challenge of math and science.  I did not even know what a civil engineer did until my first semester at CSU where the intro class told us about the basics of the career field.  From there, it wasn’t until after my internship the summer after my freshman year at the Bureau of Reclamation in my hometown that I decided civil engineering was something I could actually enjoy.

The major turning point that solidified my choice in civil engineering was during Thanksgiving break of my second year at CSU.  I was taking an honors section of Statics and learning about how all the forces needed to balance out in order for an object to stay still.  My parents and I were road tripping for Thanksgiving in the south, and every time we passed a bridge or building I would nerd out and get overly excited about knowing how it was staying static!

Since then, my focus has narrowed to wanting to focus on the water aspects of civil engineering, such as water resources and hydraulics.  The reason behind this is because of the endless challenge that comes with solving the mysteries of water in this growing world.  It took me some time and adjusting to get here, but the journey has made all the difference in helping me decide who and what I want to be!

 

What drew you to CSU from out of state?

I wanted to come to CSU because I wanted to experience something new and different from the town I grew up in.  California, although only a short drive from my home, was too expensive as an out-of-state student and was a little too close to home anyway.  After that, I saw a poster in the window of my high school counselor’s office for Colorado State and decided I wanted to go there!  Having the benefit of the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program made it much more affordable and a reasonable choice overall.  CSU also has a wonderful engineering program with plenty of diversity to mix things up and keep a person from being too single-minded.  This was a huge draw to me, and I have loved every bit of it!

 

How does the Honors Program impact your workload and time as a student?

I have felt a lot of benefits by being in the Honors Program, one being the connections I first made my freshman year because I lived on an honors hall in the Aspen residence hall in Academic Village.  Our hallway had a great mix of people in all different major, and it was easy for me to find people to watch Disney musicals with at 3am on a Saturday!  By being in the Honors Program, the size of CSU shrunk as I gained more connections to other students.

The academic benefits of the Honors Program have also been wonderful!  The Honors Program is a great resource for getting out of those basic-level reading and writing classes and into fun, engaging seminars instead.  I felt that the honors professors gave a lot more respect to the students and allowed us to think outside of the box and discuss/consider things we had never thought of before!  I have taken seminars are western novels, globalization, the philosophy of freedom as portrayed through film, and much more!

In addition, the honors sections of my engineering classes gave me a more in-depth knowledge of the topics and challenged me in a way that normal-level classes would not have.  The work load is not something to be concerned with.  If anything, I felt like that honors program better prepared you to do your homework and was never something burdensome.

 

What are you involved with on campus at CSU?

Getting involved on campus is super important, especially while being an engineer because it allows you to take a break from all the intense math and science of school and do some fun things too!  I joined a sorority my freshman year with non-engineers because I wanted to find a group with a diverse background outside of the continual engineering discussions.  My sorority is the thing that gave me purpose outside of my classes by giving me a home-away-from-home and getting me involved in community service projects.  The awesome thing about sorority and fraternity life at CSU is that it does not follow the stereotypes whatsoever!  We are more of a Greek family as a whole than a bunch of individual groups against each other.  The Greek letters connect us to others on campus and again create a smaller campus by giving us more familiar faces to see while walking around!

I also got involved on campus by being a student ambassador for the College of Engineering.  Through this, I was able to make a lot of great friends with my coworkers, network with people in the working world, and give of myself as a guide and resource to potential and incoming students, just as Yoda was a guide to Luke Skywalker.  This job has given me purpose and another view of the world.

During my final semester, I started working at the Engineering Research Center, helping compile a technical report about the impacts of in-stream structures on river flow.  This has given me the opportunity to take a look at real-world issues and how solutions are being developed.  I got this job by taking the initiative to email one of my professors and ask if he knew of any openings in his research studies.  I was lucky enough to be just what was needed!

Also during my final semester, I joined Engineers Without Borders and spear-headed the fundraising event called Bands Without Borders.  I worked with other members in the club to plan and organize the benefit concert.  We collected donations from local businesses for raffle prizes, booked local bands to play at the event, and advertised for the event itself.  The event turned out to be a huge success, larger than any other year!  I enjoyed getting to know other people within the club and work towards the common goal of creating a raising money to improve the well-being of people in developing countries.

 

What kind of job opportunities have you had?

I have had two internships while at CSU.  The first one was the Bureau of Reclamation in my hometown of Carson City, Nevada and was during the summer after my freshman year at CSU.  This internship was unique in the way that there was not a set program; instead I was assigned to do tasks within each division for 3 weeks a piece, but anytime someone went on a field trip, they were directed to take me along too!  Because of this, I got to experience a bunch of different aspects of working in the Federal government.  I observed a lot of small town risk meetings, helped capture endangered butterfly species, and went on a lot of various site visits for everything from seepage issues to core sampling.

The second internship I had was during the summer after my fourth year at CSU.  This internship was with MWH Global in Sacramento, California and was in the water resources division. MWH Global is often hired by the Bureau of Reclamation, so it showed me the opposite side of the coin in the private sector versus public sector.  While working in Sacramento, I helped with projects in all stages of development from initial steps to final submission.  After about a month and a half in Sacramento, I was sent to a small town in Idaho to assist with a fish survey study on a superfund site.  This part of the internship required more physical engagement than mental, as I was hauling gear through bushes and trees and walking in stream beds of chilly water.  The final part of the internship was to spend two weeks in the Fort Collins office, again doing water resource projects, before school started.  This gave me a comparison between large office (Sacramento) and small office (Fort Collins) atmosphere.

Overall, both internship experiences gave me a lot of hands-on learning I would not have received in the classroom!  They also allowed me to interact with many diverse people and hear about their opinions, suggestions, and life stories.  All of this has led me to where I am now and given me a better idea of what I want to do in life and the type of company I want to work for.

 

Zach Kugler at Colorado State University

men with pupsIf I am not sure which engineering major I want to study, what are my options and how difficult is it to change concentrations?

The open option engineering program is the best option for the scenario in which a student is confident in their desire to study engineering but are not completely sure which engineering major would be the best fit for them—they will take an ‘open-option’ engineering class their first semester at CSU so that they are able to learn more about the different types of engineering with the goal of informing the student to then be able to confidently decide on an engineering curriculum that they will be dedicated to succeeding in. Even if the student is not completely sure that they want to do engineering, I strongly recommend that they do the open-option engineering program as well—this is because it is much more difficult to transfer into the engineering school at CSU once you have begun undergraduate studies in a non-engineering program. It is possible to do, but much more difficult than deciding to drop engineering for another major after getting a ‘taste test’ for the engineering curriculum over the course of a semester.

What kind of preparation for a career do you receive besides your degree?

Firstly, from the very first engineering course, students will be enrolled in a corresponding lab section to their engineering course. This is differentiating factor between CSU’s college of engineering and many others across the nation–students get this experience early on as a part of their curriculum and it has a huge a huge impact on helping students to get hands on experience in order to better understand many of the difficult topics taught in lectures. Secondly, the Engineering Student Success Center provides many resources for engineering students such as resume tune-ups, mock interviews, PLI credits, as well as networking events for students such as the semesterly engineering career fair which helps students get internships/co-ops and full time engineering positions. I have had three summer engineering internships so far and I am only a junior. I can confidently say that by the time I graduate, it will be easy for me to find a full time job with or without the help of the College of Engineering because of many of the networking skills I have developed and the job experiences I have had thus far.

What kind of interactions do you have with your peers as well as faculty?

Very often do I hear ‘horror’ stories of students at other engineering schools feeling that their program instils a competition-fueled environment where students have to constantly do anything in their power to come out on top of their peers—in extreme cases this even includes students sabotaging each other’s work. While being able to set yourself apart from your peers is important, this type of environment does not provide you will many skills that are absolutely necessary to be an effective engineer in the work force. The engineering program at CSU, to me, is embodied by an atmosphere of collaboration, applicable both to faculty and their research as well as to the undergraduate and graduate students in their studies! To me, this is very important because you not only have more abundant resources for success, but it teaches one to be a better team-player within academics and this skill will carry over to a profession in engineering where it is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL to be a effective teammate! On an equally important note, the professors and student teachers, especially within the college of engineering, are always more than happy to meet with students about anything. Whether it is to get help in their class or to discuss research or projects that you or they are working on, the faculty is truly passionate about the success of students in every aspect of their lives.

What are you involved with outside of your engineering curriculum?

One of the biggest considerations in my choice of schools was the activities that I would be able to be involved with OUTSIDE of engineering—for me personally, I need to be able to have plenty of other things to do when I need a break from studying. While I am a part of IEEE and BMES (Electrical and Biomedical Engineering Societies are both professional societies), I truly find a lot of purpose outside of the classroom in leadership and personal development, which I have found plentiful at CSU, particularly in student government (ASCSU) and Greek Life. Among all of the involvement opportunities on campus, being a part of a fraternity has been one of the most life changing decisions I have ever made—I am an active member of Phi Kappa Theta at CSU which strives to develop men who passionately serve society, fraternity, and God. Along with that, I have been a part of a few club teams (swimming & triathlon) and have played intramural sports. While each of these things ultimately compound into having less ‘free’ time throughout my week, I have found that involvement in other groups and activities has allowed me to be successful in many areas of my life including engineering!

What made you choose CSU over CU & Mines?

Knowing that I wanted to stay in-state, I had three great choices for engineering schools in Colorado. The largest factor in my decision came down to CSU having a dual engineering degree program where I could study both electronic systems and the human body, two things I have been very passionate in learning about since a very young age. Only one other university has a dual degree program like this (currently). As alluded to in the other questions, CSU is a very large university (around 30K students) which allows for so many different opportunities for involvement, which for me has greatly enhanced my ‘college experience’. At the same time though, the College of Engineering is much smaller (around 2.5K students) which allows for a much more personal experience within your engineering curriculum allowing for better access to resources, your peers, and faculty. Tuition at CSU and living expenses in Fort Collins are much more affordable than CU and the atmosphere is very different from Boulder and Golden as well. Ultimately though, when it came to my decision, with all of these factors and opportunities taken into account, I saw myself being able to enjoy my time as an undergraduate at CSU. This is really important, especially if you choose to study a topic as difficult as engineering, as it will greatly increase your ability to be successful if you can enjoy the time you spend both in and out of your studies.

Kalli Wegren at Colorado State University

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Why CSU?

I visited Colorado State University my junior year of high school. I have an aunt and uncle who lived in Thornton, CO at the time so I was interested in coming to Colorado for college. The biggest reason I came to CSU was because it was a very welcoming and friendly campus! Not only was it a beautiful school which had a lot to offer, but it also felt like a home. CSU also participates in the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program so I was able to come on a reduced tuition rate. In addition, it has a great location for a college town. I love living in Fort Collins and close to Denver. There is always something to do whether it is going to Old Town, hiking around Horsetooth reservoir, or going to see a Rockies baseball game. CSU is a great place to come out-of-state because the campus is very supportive and welcoming and it just a fun place to be!

 

How does the Honors program cater to your interests?

The honors program has many benefits for students. Honor students are able to register for classes earlier, which is nice when you want to be in a specific section for a class. Also, many classes offer special honor sections that are only available to honor students. All AUCC (All-University Core Curriculum) credits are replaced with honors seminars that are very interesting and enriching. Also, special scholarships are available to honors students that are renewable each year. Lastly, participating in the honors program is great to put on resumes.

 

How difficult is it to change between engineering majors?

I was accepted to CSU as a biomedical and electrical engineer dual major. However, when I registered for classes at summer orientation, I realized I was unsure what type of engineering I was really interested in. I switched into the Engineering Science program, so I could take the “Open Option” engineering course to find out more about the different engineering disciplines. After my first semester and talking with my engineering professor, I decided I wanted to try electrical engineering. I realized I did not like electrical engineering as much as I thought it would. I decided to switch into civil engineering and it instantly clicked with me. I really enjoy my classes and I liked my civil engineering internship over the summer. It took me a while to figure out what engineering concentration I wanted to pursue, but it was worth finding my true passion. Talking to my professors, advisors, and CSU’s career center helped me to explore my options and find a concentration that was right for me. Changing majors was a smooth process, however, communicating with my advisors and professors was key in making it so.

 

What are you involved with at CSU?

CSU is a great campus to get involved in! So many opportunities have opened for me because I became involved and made connections. I first joined the Society of Women Engineers my freshman year.  Now, I am the publicity director for CSU’s section of SWE and a “Future Leader” for Region i of SWE. This year, I had the opportunity to go to SWE’s national conference in Nashville, TN.   Not only was it a lot of fun, but I also learned a lot. I am also involved in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and my sorority. ASCE is a professional society where I have made a lot of great networking connections. My sorority, Kappa Delta, is a social sorority and has been a home away from home for me. I have made life-long friends through CSU’s Greek life. In addition, I am also an engineering ambassador. I love talking to prospective students and giving tours of our great campus! Being involved has allowed me to make new friends and connections and it has opened a lot of leadership opportunities.

 

What is is like at CSU to be a woman in engineering?

Being a woman in engineering has been a great experience for me. At first, I do admit to being intimidated in some of my classes by the larger male population, however I have had nothing but a welcoming experience. I did join the Society of Women Engineers, which is a very supportive organization. I have also formed many great study groups with everyone in my classes. The college of engineering at CSU is welcoming and supportive of everyone.