Making a Difference
Beyond the Classroom
Engineering is an inherently practical profession, but one that shapes the future of our world. While a strong background in mathematics and theoretical principles is essential to your success as an engineer, so too is the development of character traits that are difficult to grade in the classroom: adaptability, diligence, curiosity, creativity, effective communication, the ability to think on your feet, the ability to work on a team, and—maybe most important of all—the willingness to give back and make a difference. These traits will prove important not only to your career, but to the people in your community.
This is why we forge opportunities for UAA College of Engineering students to develop themselves beyond the classroom, to take practical steps to prepare you for the future. You can get involved in student clubs and organizations, participate in community outreach, and learn on the job.
Joining a club is one of the best ways to make new friends, develop your leadership skills, and effect change. At the UAA College of Engineering, you could join student chapters of professional organizations like the American Society of Mechanical Engineers or the Society of Women Engineers, giving you the chance to meet engineers in your field and participate in projects that benefit real Alaskans. You could get your hands dirty by joining a design-oriented club like Rocketry or Robotics, or by competing in the annual Steel Bridge Competition or Baja Competition. And Engineers Without Borders is always looking for passionate individuals to aid in the development of basic infrastructure for struggling communities. No matter which clubs you join, you will enter into organizations that are bigger than yourself—organizations that give you the opportunity to better yourself, but also to do some good.
Projects that Change the World
Every year, dozens of graduating seniors from our civil, mechanical, electrical, and computer science programs undertake a capstone project. The way it works is pretty simple, but the benefits for Alaska and Alaskans are huge. Basically, a need in our community is identified—maybe an alternative energy business needs a new prototype, perhaps a village on the Alaskan coast needs a new bridge, or a nonprofit organization might need a specially designed database—and then our seniors strive together to determine a solution to fulfill that need. Capstone projects serve both as an important learning tool for future engineers and also as a way for UAA to improve our community. For many of our students, this is their first opportunity to feel how their degree in engineering can truly change the world.
Inspire the Next Generation of Engineers
The next generation of engineers is out there right now. They’re sitting in middle school cafeterias or high school physics classes, and many of them aren’t yet sure about the future. They may not realize that engineering is an option or maybe they think that it’s out of reach—that it’s too difficult, too elite, too esoteric. Well, that’s where the College of Engineering’s outreach activities come into play. We go into classes or invite students to our campus to show them that engineering is for anyone who’s willing to do the work—but we need your help to make this happen. We need role models to show young girls and boys that it’s possible to pursue their dreams. And you’ll also benefit from giving back. You’ll become a better teacher, a better public speaker, and you’ll hone your creativity.
Learn on the Job
After you graduate with a degree in engineering, you will want to approach your first big interview with on-the-job experience. The UAA College of Engineering helps make this possible by connecting you with companies like ConocoPhillips and HDR Alaska or government agencies like the Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources. Through our alumni and our research, we maintain close ties to many organizations inside and outside of Alaska—and those organizations understand the value of hiring a student or graduate from the UAA College of Engineering.