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!

Kalli Wegren at Colorado State University


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.