Ryan Baeverstad at Colorado State University

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

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

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

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

How does the honors program affect your studies at CSU?

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

What is freshman year like at CSU?

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

What are you involved with on campus?

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

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.

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.

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!