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Student Leader Iris Kwong

Iris Kwong
Co-captain, Concrete Canoe Team
Senior, Bachelor’s Degree Program

How long have you been involved with the organization?
Since my freshman year at UW, so this is my third year on the team.

What do you enjoy most about being in a leadership position?
Being able to help build and develop a community within the Civil Engineering Department at the UW. As well as having the opportunity to be a part of a team of amazing individuals and work together to create this final product that we are proud of. Also having the ability to hopefully make a positive impact on the CEE community with the team and bring passion and interest in Civil Engineering. These are just a few things I enjoy most about being in a leadership position, basically having the opportunity to make this type of impact.

How many hours a week do you spend working with the organization?
Approximately 25-30 hours a week. Probably slightly ashamed by the amount of hours spent.

What are your goals for the organization for this academic year?
Some of my goals for the organization for this academic year, obviously includes doing well at competition but more importantly is to be able to create a family at UW. UW is so large, but for students a place where you develop friendships while building a concrete canoe. It’s obviously something that you won’t do once you get out of school, but these memories that are made are long-lasting. So basically, just being able to create this type of community with our team at the UW is my goal for the team. This academic year, just being able to build off of last year’s team and grow/learn together as engineers.

Can you briefly describe what the group/organization does?
We build a concrete canoe! As a team, we design, construct, and race a concrete canoe regionally and nationally. Most importantly, we work together to take concepts we learn in the classroom and put it to work.

How many members are there?
Around 40-50.

What is your favorite part of being part of the organization?
The memories, just being able to work with so many talented individuals to tackle engineering challenges. The sense of accomplishment that I will have the opportunity to look back with so many other future engineers and say, “Hey, we built that together.” Concrete canoe is definitely one of the places where I’ve gotten to know and become closer friends with people.

Has the organization overcome any challenges?
Challenges are inevitable but that is what makes concrete canoe unique. It is the challenges that come about and the way the team solves them. Every team has their own set of challenges and way of going about them. It is great to see everyone working together and almost literally, watching the gears turn as the team comes together to solve problems and issues that come about. All in all, if it weren’t for challenges, canoe would be pretty lame. Of course, as engineers, problem solving is one of the main things that we do. Plus, with these challenges, we all have the opportunity to grow and learn from each one! Which I think is very important for me, as personal growth. As captain, I am glad to watch the team grow and mature out of these challenges.

What area of civil & environmental engineering most interests you?
Structural Engineering

What do you hope to do after graduation?
The plan is to attend graduate school.