“I am very much looking forward to the cohort model. The program I came from, STARS, also is based on a cohort model and I very much attribute that kind of structure to me being able to make so many close and dear friends.”
Originally from Vietnam; grew up in Olympia, WA.
Growing up, I had always been proficient at math. In the apartment complex I grew up in, there was a community center that I would attend every day after school to hang out with my friends and do homework. One of my favorite volunteers there, Laiza, noted that I was really good at math and asked if I wanted to be an engineer. Being a seventh grader and growing up in a lower-income neighborhood, I had never heard of the term “engineer.” Half an hour of googling “what is an engineer?” later, I honestly still had no clue what engineers do — but that was a problem for another day. This was my very first experience hearing about and being interested in engineering.
For the first six years of my life, I lived in Vietnam, which began making a larger move toward the urbanization of the country’s cities. Thus, I grew up around a lot of construction projects. I feel a sense of comfort and nostalgia toward it and the busy environment. Civil projects have a larger physical scale, which I find satisfying.
What are you looking forward to most about the program?
I am very much looking forward to the cohort model. The program I came from, STARS, also is based on a cohort model and I very much attribute that kind of structure to me being able to make so many close and dear friends, so I am excited for a similar experience in the department.
Area of interest
Currently, I am interested in the construction field, and am leaning toward being more involved on the management side of things versus having a technical role. Being able to split my time between being in an office and visiting work sites sounds very enjoyable to me, as my work environment is ever changing! I would also like to explore the implementation and prioritization of sustainable methods in construction today.
This summer, I interned for VI, a virtual internship study abroad program. I was matched with Agifez Architects & Consultants, a company based in Owerri, Nigeria. I worked alongside an architecture professor from Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University and two architecture students who also attend UW. We created a concept for shops and sky bridges along a carnival route that was traditionally used in an annual festival to celebrate the founding of Owerri and the roasting of yams. I myself worked specifically on the structural analysis of the sky bridge. I enjoyed learning about Finite Element Analysis, interviewing a UW alumnus structural engineer for advice, working alongside those outside of my major to explore the nuances and history of a culture that I was unfamiliar with, and how that kind of context adds depth and inspiration into our design and analysis.
I am a part of the STARS program. Through the program I have met many great friends and faculty who continue to support me academically and emotionally throughout my time at UW. I am also an Engineering Peer Educator and this will be my second year teaching the GEN ST 199 for the Direct to College students.
I am also part of two student clubs. This summer I served on the rush committee for Theta Tau, a professional co-ed engineering fraternity, and helped plan for our Fall 2021 rush cycle. I am also involved in DUBverlopers, a new website development club whose aim is to teach students how to code and design websites in order to work on pro-bono projects for underserved communities and organizations throughout the Seattle and surrounding area. I serve as the project outreach director to find projects, assist with administrative tasks and build community within the group.
What is your dream job?
For the foreseeable future, I hope to go into the construction industry. Currently, I need to do more research and reflection in order to figure out my own values, and which companies would align with that. I have some interest in international development and would consider volunteering abroad or for non-profit organizations in the future. Whatever it may be, I will follow the path that provides me with opportunities for the most growth and fulfillment.
Any advice for prospective students?
Be proactive about your learning. Watch YouTube videos, look around the CEE department website to see the kind of research that is happening, take an exploration class, and if professors or working professionals are intimidating to talk to, reach out to older CEE students/alum in order to learn more about how they got to where they are. It can be scary, but at the end of the day, your learning is your responsibility.