Hi everyone! Today we are highlighting civil engineering majors at Viterbi. Read on to find more info about what it’s like to study, work, and live life as a civil engineer.

Today’s responses are from:

Felipe Morelli:

Hey I am Felipe and I am currently a senior studying Civil Engineering. I was born in Colombia but when I turned 10 I moved to Egypt and lived there for 4 years. Some of my involvements on campus include: being a Student Ambassador, I am a counselor for Troy Camp, and I am also a part of Expat Society.

Katherine Moir:

Hi everyone! My name is Katherine Moir and I am a senior majoring in civil engineering with an emphasis in building science. I’m from Philadelphia, PA and my favorite restaurant in LA is Kazunori!

Jairus Montgomery:

My name is Jairus Montgomery and I am a senior studying Civil Engineering with a Structural emphasis. I was born and raised right here in Los Angeles (more specifically, Culver City). I’m a section leader in the Trojan Marching Band and I am heavily involved in the American Society of Civil Engineers.

How I describe my major
(and emphasis if applicable):

Felipe Morelli: I would say that the Civil Engineering major with the construction track, is not too different from the general track. The major covers the basics of Civil Engineering, from the small technicalities of the component of materials to the large scale structures. I would say the main thing that differentiates my concentration from the others offered for CE is how it gives the opportunity to take a couple construction management classes which explain the “business” side of the engineering field.

Katherine Moir: I am studying civil engineering with an emphasis in building science. I would describe my major as being a perfect combination of civil engineering and architecture. The curriculum is heavy in engineering subjects like physics, structures, coding, and many more, and is also balanced with three 1 year long architecture studios. The coursework is rigorous and challenging, but it’s also very fulfilling to gain both an engineering and a design education all in one degree.

Jairus Montgomery: I am a civil engineering major, so I deal with anything that is involved in a city’s infrastructure, including buildings, traffic, environmental elements, etc. My emphasis is in structures, so I spend a lot of my time doing static and dynamic calculations that determine whether or not a structure is able to withstand the governing loads imposed on it. Since we live in California, a large portion of our curriculum consists of earthquake dynamics which differs from other parts of the United States that may focus on wind or snow design.

How I chose my major:

Felipe Morelli: I originally started out in the Environmental engineering track within CE. During freshman year I went to a talk given by Pat Fuscoe, about his experience in the construction industry and how he started his own firm. I realized that what he spoke about was aligned with what I saw myself doing in the future. I decided to speak with Mr. Fuscoe after the talk, and by the next day I was emailing my advisor to change my track.

Katherine Moir: In middle and high school I found my skill in math, science, and computer-related subjects, and knew that I wanted to pursue a career in engineering. At the same time, I always maintained a general interest in buildings and their design – especially skyscrapers – and even created a digital model of my house in 8 th grade. When I applied to USC and found out about building science, I knew it would be the perfect choice that caters to both my interest in design and my skill in engineering.

Jairus Montgomery: I always knew I wanted to be an engineer, but I had no idea what kind. As a high school junior, I hopped onto the Wikipedia page for “List of Engineering Branches” and narrowed my options down to civil or materials engineering, as they instantly caught my attention. USC was the only college I applied to under civil engineering, so upon choosing to attend this school, it felt like a decision that I was meant to make. My deep interest in problem solving is piqued by my major, and my emphasis in structural engineering allowed me to explore that interest in a far more robust way.

How I got involved at USC:

Felipe Morelli: Most of my involvements on campus have been related to the jobs I have held. I joined the Admission Center, freshman year as I was looking for a job and this proved to be a great place to meet like minded people who became some of my good friends. Additionally my sophomore year I joined Troy Camp which I found out about through talking with friends who were already in the org.

Katherine Moir: I started getting more involved at USC post-pandemic during my junior year. I started a new job as an administrative assistant and a research assistant at the Structures and Materials Research Laboratory (SMRL) in the civil engineering department, where I help out with large-scale experiments and tests. I also joined more civil engineering clubs like CMAA and EERI where I found a great community of friends, get to build upon my engineering knowledge, and even get to take on leadership positions my senior year. It’s a great idea to attend involvement fairs and seek out clubs that intersect with your interests or identity.

Jairus Montgomery: My first big engagement at USC was the Trojan Marching Band. Prior to joining, I had 10 years of musical experience under my belt and 4 years of marching band experience, so naturally I wanted to continue that journey. Sticking with my passion felt like the easiest way to involve myself in one of the many things that USC has to offer. I also joined USC’s American Society of Civil Engineers chapter, which is an academic organization that provides many resources and learning opportunities to students in my major. Most majors have a relevant organization attached to it, so I wanted to make the most of it by joining the Steel Bridge design team and eventually stepping into a leadership role.

How I found community at USC:

Felipe Morelli: Finding your community at USC is genuinely just a matter of time. Some of the people I met on my first day of college are still friends with me to this day, but we actually did not become friends until well into the second semester of freshman year. I feel like I had to put myself out there, whether that meant talking to people in the student lounges or reaching out to people from class. As an international Colombian student, everytime I heard someone speaking Spanish, I would immediately go up to them and ask them where they were from. 

Katherine Moir: I found my community at USC by getting involved and building relationships with my peers from my classes and clubs to the dorms. There are so many involvement opportunities on campus, so it’s good to cast a wide net and attend lots of events and org meetings to find what activities might interest you, and from there your community will find you! Another great way to meet friends in class is to find people you work well with and form a group to work on homeworks or labs with. The best aspect of the USC community is the huge diversity of social, cultural, athletic, and academic interests that it spans – there is really a place for everyone to find their community.

Jairus Montgomery: I was able to find many different communities to be a part of at USC. As a Black student, let alone a Black engineering student, organizations like the Black Student Association or the National Society of Black Engineers will seek you out to connect you to other individuals who will share many of the same experiences with you. Being part of the Trojan Marching Band connected me to an entire legacy full of musicians and performers that dedicated themselves to the program which is a level of connection that very few other organizations can provide. Finally, I had an incredible experience living in Marks Hall my freshman year to the point where I became lifelong friends with many other guys on my floor that I’m still currently living with.

How I spend my free time at USC:

Felipe Morelli: I love to spend my free time going to the movies. There’s always something new and given that we are in LA we often get some advanced premieres or early access to films. If not that, I like to try out new restaurants in the city.

Katherine Moir: When I’m not in class or doing work, I like to spend time with my 4 roommates either chilling at home watching a show or finding something fun to do off-campus. USC is in a perfect central location which makes it easy to take the Metro to Santa Monica or downtown. I’ve lived in LA for three years but I’m still discovering new restaurants, museums, stores, districts, and beaches every week – there is never a shortage of things to do while being a student at SC. It’s also always fun to go to games during football season in the fall!

Jairus Montgomery: During my free time, I enjoy spending time with my girlfriend who goes to that other school across town, playing video games with my roommates, rollerblading around campus, and catching up with all of the friends I’ve made at USC thus far. I also try to get active by playing pickup basketball in the Lyon Center gym, volleyball in Santa Monica, soccer on Brittingham Field, and golf at various courses around the city. There’s always something fun to do at USC whether I’m looking for something exciting, like giving it my all in intramural sports, or something relaxing like hammocking on The Hill.

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