Meet a Civil Engineering Major

alexandra

Alexandra Natchev ’14

Extra-curricular activities: 

  • Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers (SHPE)
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
  • Society of Women Engineers (SWE)
  • Engineers Without Borders (EWB)
  • Manhattan College Green Club
  • Tutoring

Read about why Alexandra chose her major [+]

 

Why did you choose your major? 

Looking back, I would not have predicted that I would be an engineering student today. I struggled with math and science for as long as I could remember. Taking AP Calculus and AP Physics in high school was a challenge for me, but I took it seriously and spent many hours studying. It was the challenge that kept me interested. Along with these courses, I also took several AutoCAD classes along with a Principles of Engineering class which encouraged me early on to work with groups of different individual personalities. We designed and built a trebuchet and a chainsaw racer, and also designed a hotel on AutoCAD and prepared a professional presentation. We presented a detailed project on everything from the mechanical systems which regulated the indoor environment to the landscaping architecture, all while working within a budget.

Even though some of those small projects were not considered civil engineering, I knew from those experiences that I wanted to become an engineer because working as a team from beginning to end on a project was rewarding. I chose civil engineering, in particular, because participating in the design and implementation of a bridge, roadway or building for the benefit of the community at large is nothing short of amazing.

What has been your favorite class? 

I have two classes that I have enjoyed the most so far and would deem as my favorites: Structural Analysis II and Environmental Principles II. Structures II taught me why we learn what we learn and how we implement our skills in practical ways and methods. Environmental II exposed me to energy, sustainability and water resources, which increased my interest in water quality and energy conservation.

Have you done any internships?

As a freshman and sophomore, I worked for the City of Yonkers Engineering Department where Microsoft Excel was my best friend, so to speak. The majority of my time consisted of reviewing and organizing permit documents in databases, and gaining valuable knowledge from construction plans and the bidding process. I learned to collaborate and communicate with professional engineers, contractors and the residents of Yonkers.

For summer 2013, I am interning with HDR for the New Tappan Zee Bridge Project. I am beyond excited to be involved in this project, especially in the welcoming environment HDR has shown me.

What are your plans after graduation?

I envision myself going into consulting after graduation. I have an interest and passion for both structural engineering and environmental engineering. I personally believe that every structural engineer has to be a little bit of an environmental engineer, especially in this day and age. Being a French citizen, I would also like to work overseas at some point in my career. Ultimately, I want to start an engineering company of my own that specializes in both aspects of civil engineering that interest me the most.

What are the faculty like?

The faculty in Manhattan College's Civil and Environmental Engineering department are high on my list of the most influential people I know. The reason I have persevered thus far toward my engineering degree, even when feeling overwhelmed as the course load becomes increasingly more challenging, is because my professors have always been there for me. No student is ever ignored or overlooked. The department is small enough that professors know your name, but also the kind of person you are. It is comforting to know that your professors genuinely care about you and want you to succeed.

What’s your favorite thing about this major?

Civil Engineering is taught in many colleges and universities worldwide, but the students and professors I have met at the School of Engineering at Manhattan College are what make me really enjoy my major. Engineering is a great deal of early mornings and long nights, studying and finishing projects and assignments on time. Having study groups is definitely a necessity for engineering school. Studying alone is also important, but working and studying with classmates will provide the teamwork skills needed in the profession. I speak for all of the students in the department when I say that we are always willing to help fellow classmates and we have made close bonds throughout the years. Although we may have completely different backgrounds and interests, we have the same mentality and passion for engineering.

What’s the most difficult thing about this major?

Engineering is definitely not known for being an easy major. Civil engineering means countless hours of work. Mix that with other responsibilities that need to be fulfilled in every day life, and it is definitely a recipe for disaster if a student hasn’t mastered the art of time management. As far as the most difficult part of my major, I would say that it is keeping a level head, no matter how stressed and overwhelmed I may be.

What advice would you give to new students trying to select a major?

When deciding a major, a student should find what he or she enjoys and finds rewarding. I have friends and classmates who chose a major based off of the income they would earn in the professional arena. Other students choose based off of what professions are needed. I also have friends who chose to be in education because they love children, or finance because they have a good head for business. No matter the major, a person will most certainly stand out if they have a passion for it. There is nothing worse than going up to a student on campus, asking them why they chose their major, and hearing I don't know” in response.

 

matt

Matthew Post ’14

Extra-curricular activities: 

  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • New York Water Environment Association
  • Intramural Sports

Read about Matt’s favorite class [+]

 

What has been your favorite class? 

My favorite class so far has been my Steel Design course. This may not sound that interesting, but you would be surprised how much consideration goes into choosing the correct building material. I like the process of having to consider every possible outcome in order to obtain the correct answer.

Why did you choose your major? 

I chose civil engineering because I enjoy problem-solving. In high school, I was also interested in buildings and structures from drafting and architectural classes.

Have you done any internships or research projects?

I have been involved in both internships and research projects. Both types of experiences have tied in the real life application of what is learned in the classroom. It’s easy to sit down and learn about a topic or technique in class, but internships and research experience really solidify the purpose and application of what is learned.

What are your plans after graduation?

I would like to pursue a career in structural design. It is interesting to think about how someone designed a bridge or a 100-story building.

What are the faculty like?

The civil engineering faculty members are fantastic. They are caring and motivating figures that push each student to be the best they can be. They are intelligent and challenging professors, who have real life experience in the field.

What’s your favorite thing about this major?

I really like the people I have met in the major. Everyone is friendly and social. I like the sense of community that forms when we all have to go through the same thing.The subject is ever-changing and always interesting

What’s the most difficult thing about this major?

Civil engineering is not an easy major. The most difficult thing has been the amount of time, effort and focus that the major requires. It is hard but still manageable and definitely worth it.

What advice would you give to new students trying to select a major?

Do something you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy what you do in the beginning, you won’t enjoy it later on.