Civil Engineering In My Own Words

natalie Viterbi Class 0 Comments

I knew as an incoming freshman to USC that I wanted to study civil engineering. In fact, my major program is one of the main reasons I chose to come to USC. In my first semester at USC I got my first taste of civil engineering through the Design and Planning of Civil Engineering Systems class (CE 106), which is the introduction civil engineering class. Throughout the semester we looked at the various types of problems we would be solving for the next four years, learned from professionals in the industry, and did a group paper on renewable energy options. As a Building Science student, I also took ARCH 214 Architecture: Culture and Community, where we studied well-known architects and their work with architecture as an expression of culture and the way architecture shapes our society. My favorite part of this class were the project we did – YouTube videos of architectural precedents, which were either spaces or buildings. For my project I focused on the High Line Park in New York City, an abandoned elevated railroad track that was turned into a park in 2009.

Since my first semester in engineering, I have begun to take more specialized Engineering courses, in addition to the required math and physics courses. In CE 108 Introduction to Computer Methods in Civil Engineering we learned to program on MATLAB to solve engineering problems. In one of my favorite courses, CE 107 Introduction to Civil Engineering Graphics, we learned to sketch, draft, and model engineering and architectural drawings, using AutoCAD and Revit Architecture. The final project was to design and model a dream house – I had so much fun working on this project that I didn’t mind the large amount of time I spent working on it. I have also taken Statics (CE 205), and am currently enrolled in Mechanics of Deformable Bodies (CE 225), Dynamics (CE 325), and Introduction to Design of Structural Systems (CE 207). For my Building Science emphasis, I started taking a sequenced architecture studio class, Building Science I (ARCH 205) last semester, and will continue with these courses through my senior year. I love being able to apply the design and structural principles I learn in my engineering classes to my architectural designs. Last semester we built model mountain cabins, and this semester we created architectural drawings of the Case Study House Program houses and are currently working on affordable housing designs using prefabricated units. You can read about my previous projects here and here.

Within engineering I’ve been able to get involved in several student organizations, most importantly the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). I joined SWE as a freshman, and enjoyed attending the social, community service, and corporate events that SWE planned throughout the year. As a sophomore I joined the Officers Council as the Historian for SWE, taking pictures of each SWE meeting and event. Next year I will be the Vice President of External Relations, and I am very excited for the opportunities and experiences that my leadership position will provide me with. As a member of ASCE I contribute to the teams ASCE produces for the annual Pacific South West Conference – notably the concrete canoe and steel bridge design teams. Both of these organizations have been a great way to meet fellow engineers from various majors and years, not to mention the networking connections formed between peers and company recruiters. I am also a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), which holds many of the same type of events as SWE and ASCE in terms of social, corporate and community service opportunities.

All three of these organizations have provided me with excellent recruiting opportunities, because they frequently host company recruiters for information sessions or sponsored events. This past year I had the opportunity to attend the SWE National Conference (you can read more about that here), which had a huge career fair and was a very effective way to network and form connections with various recruiters. This summer because I will be participating in the Viterbi Summer Overseas Program in Madrid, I am not currently looking for an internship. But I know I will find all the corporate events produced by SWE, ASCE, and SHPE very helpful next year when I am looking for summer internship opportunities.

Overall, I am very much enjoying my life as a civil engineering student at USC, and could not have found this engineering experience elsewhere. Civil Engineering is a broad field, which provides a wide variety of career possibilities. I have become very close friends with the other students in my civil engineering classes, which makes learning and studying so much easier, manageable, and not to mention more fun. I can’t wait to see what the next two years as a civil engineering student will bring!

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