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.

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.

 

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.