Your time at Rutgers Engineering will be filled with classroom learning, recitations, lab work, projects, exams, and a lot of studying. But there will also be so many other experiences that will contribute to your overall experience, from the friends you make to the internships you experience to the organizations and clubs you get involved in to the faculty you look to as mentors. Your story begins here at the School of Engineering!
Starting Your Engineering Journey: First-year Experience
This is an exciting time as you begin your college journey, but it can also feel somewhat uncertain as you consider a new living situation with people you don't know, transitioning from high school or college acadmics with greater demands, and a new independce that will require time management and resonsibility. Here, current students share their knowledge.
- Transitioning from High School to College
But what if I fall? Oh, my darling, but what if you fly?*By Parinita Jain, 2023If I could go back to that girl in her senior year of school, the one exhausted from four years of high school, but ever so excited to begin that new chapter of her life, I’d give her some simple advice. I hope these serve you well too as you transition from high school to college:
Don’t be so hard on yourself. I don’t know what kind of student you were in high school. You could have been that straight-arrowed, A student, priorities in order, ready to get that 4.0. You could be the slacker who managed to stumble through high school and now college much as you would stumble through life. Now imagine where you fall in between these two extremes. I want you to take that notion and throw it out the window. Because guess what? You’re in college now and the ball game is completely different. Here, there are no parents. The responsibilities are different. You have to unload the dishwasher at home? Well here, you wash what you eat from, which usually consists of microwaveable mac-and-cheese cups and Cup-a-Noodles at 2 am (which becomes the new 8 pm). You do laundry by yourself (after 56 phone calls to mom), and put away all that said laundry. You waste time doing these things. You waste time on the Rutgers buses and in finding your classes. You’re adjusting. And that’s why I can say that it’s okay to fail. College is hard. I know people say that and you might shrug it off but please take warning: you must work significantly harder if you want to make your impact here.
In big lectures, the most significant change I see from high school is that it so easy to get lost in the sauce(?) here. A big student crowd, just one of many (consider rephrasing: “You are just one of many in a large student crowd butut find your place here. The homework isn’t graded any more so why do it? You learn about frat parties, a new Netflix show, etc.—the situation doesn’t matter. What matters is that you figure out you have to do that homework to understand the material and parties and movies will always be there. The important part is not that it takes you time to realize it, it’s that you’ve evaluated the situation and have adapted to it, and continue to change to make your experience the best that it can be. Learn from it, grow from it. Yes, work hard but don’t feel that everything has to go perfectly. It’s hard to be happy in college, in life, with such a high standard. Work until you no longer have to introduce(?) yourself, but don’t lose yourself in the process.
Stay true to yourself. There was no passing of time in dorms. My dorm floor was always chatty, bright, full of life, full of college students awake at all hours. In high school, your family was probably asleep by 11pm and he house was quiet and dark. In college, midnight would become 2 am which would become 3 am, and yet you somehow got roped into playing cards with people in the lounge or you started talking to your across-the-hall neighbors. It would feel natural because you felt close to these people being united in your effort to survive college and all its hurdles. Sometimes it would be okay to say no. The biggest change in my social life was the sudden explosion of it. I would hang out with friends outside of high school maybe once a week. Now your friends would call you to a different campus at 2 am because there’s some “TikTok we HAVE to recreate”. What about that 8 am class you have in the morning? Then sleep. Your friends will be there Friday night when you would want to properly unwind. Don’t feel like you’re missing out on something because you’re not. Nothing is more important than you and what you want. Focus on that homework you have due., If the hangout is getting a bit overdone and you’d rather watch Netflix eating popcorn in your bed tonight, it’s okay to leave the situation or decline the offer. It’ll still be there for you if and whenever you are ready.
On the opposite side, if you’re shy and reserved, get out there!!! Everyone here is really nice. The people who’ve walked up to me and my friends randomly during events because they didn’t know anyone else there and we looked approachable have ended up becoming some of my best friends. You got this! Go make friends who love you for all your quirks and gifts.
Don’t leave college unchanged. This place changes you for better and worse. Don’t be so overconfident in yourself that you feel you can’t grow in character and as a person. Roll with the punches thrown at you or throw a punch back. Let yourself grow, but don’t allow yourself to become deformed by it either.
College is a whole different game than high school. High school represented parents and security, being careless with your actions and words. College is a different kind of carelessness, of independence, of freedom. It’s holding a baseball bat in a football field as the referee throws a basketball at you. It’s easy to forget why you came here, what you wanted to do but keep your eye on that big picture. You will become that doctor, that athlete, engineer, artist, Olympian basket-weaver. Believe in yourself, even when no one else does. Above all, live life practicing meraki--put a piece of yourself into everything you do. Now try re-reading the title.
* From a poem by Erin Hanson
- Meeting My Roommate
Meeting My RoommateBy Kimberlee Sibilia, BME 2022I feared that I would get a “bad” roommate going into college. A lot of my cousins had expressed “roommate horror stories” to me, and how often they were unable to click with your roommate. So, I knew it was important to get a good roommate, even if we weren’t the best of friends. On the Facebook page for my class, I found someone in the Pharmacy school who had similar interests. We both liked music, wanted to go out and try new places to eat, and watched a lot of the same shows. So, I messaged her to get to know her better - maybe she could be a friend, and maybe she could be my roommate. We messaged back and forth, me starting with the basic, “Hi my name is Kim. I’m a biomedical engineering major. I really like the beach” sort of information, but then starting to talk more about college and what we want in college.And then she asked if I had a roommate.To be honest, I was quite scared since picking someone to be my roommate would be picking someone to live with for a year. It was scary, especially being an only child, to think about sharing personal space with someone for so long. But I knew I needed a roommate and I was happy she had the courage to ask. We chatted some more about our interests and what we both were looking for in a roommate, since we were both concerned about getting someone, we could be compatible living together. And then, we both agreed to give the roomie thing a try!We signed up for the same New Student Orientation sessions and decided to meet during one of the free-times we had. We went to 16 Handles and realized that we’d be spending a lot of the next four years hanging out and trying new places to eat.Throughout our almost-two years of knowing each other, we were able to make so many memories. Our friends called us #RoomieGoals. Yes, we’ve frequently gone out to try new places to eat and complained how much we ate (and how much we spent two hours later). I’m not a spontaneous person, but it was our spontaneous trips to explore all of the campuses during our freshman fall semester that made the transition to college easier. Sometimes, in order to procrastinate studying for exams, we would binge watch an entire season of Criminal Minds. She learned about my life, I learned about hers, and I am forever grateful that I was open-minded about the roommate situation.Now I write this, two years later, practicing social distancing and wishing I was in my dorm. Yes, I love being home and seeing my family, but my roommate became like the sister I never had. I consider myself blessed to have found someone who I enjoyed living with and considered a close friend. So, throughout your walks of life, be open to meeting new people. You never know if they might become your best friend.
- Learning Time Managment Skills
MinutesBy Fayha Khan, ISE 2021You’ve probably heard that college is the fastest four years of your life. You’ve also probably heard that you can only have two things: grades, friends and/or sleep.In high school, we spent 35-40 hours a week just in instruction, but in college it’s only about half. But, somehow, I still found myself short on time. We can use planners or Google Calendar to organize our time, but even then, we may find ourselves at a loss.Turns out that our enemy is the pockets of idle time that float around during the day. When we wait around for class to start, for a friend to join us or when we’re just stuck on the bus, pull out your phone to use Quizlet, send an email, or apply for a job. Yes, our phones pose as a major distraction, but they are also a major asset for using our time carefully.My freshman year, I hardly applied to any internships because it always seemed like a secondary priority to doing my homework that was only worth 10-15%. November, I looked at companies; January, I wrote a resume; and, finally, in February, I applied. It took a semester and a half to apply to two jobs, despite the many hours of time that passed idly. I slowly revamped the way I approached my idle time to ensure they occurred less frequently. In sophomore and junior year, this technique encouraged me to start applying earlier--because I really did have the time--and because I was applying, I was also getting interviews/offers.Broadly, we need to fight procrastination. Disciplining yourself to do something as soon as possible is the obvious, yet difficult goal, and everyone approaches it differently. These last few years, I managed to conquer that by putting a rather pessimistic light to it by reminding myself that there won’t be time to do this later (although, there probably was). For me, it certainly did work, and for you, it might, but I think most people are incentive driven!When your day is structured by the minute, it’s easier to dedicate hours to “scheduled” activities, without worrying about the other things you need to do. You can enjoy your time at an event, at the gym, or make the most out of your study session.Time starts ticking away when you walk into your first class in September. Wisely using “in-between” moments and deeming most tasks as “urgent” can do wonders for you because you literally make the most of every minute. And let’s graduate without regrets! Wishing you all the best!Broadly, we need to fight procrastination. Disciplining yourself to do something as soon as possible is the obvious, yet difficult goal, and everyone approaches it differently. These last few years, I managed to conquer that by putting a rather pessimistic light to it by reminding myself that there won’t be time to do this later (although, there probably was). For me, it certainly did work, and for you, it might, but I think most people are incentive driven!When your day is structured by the minute, it’s easier to dedicate hours to “scheduled” activities, without worrying about the other things you need to do. You can enjoy your time at an event, at the gym, or make the most out of your study session.Time starts ticking away when you walk into your first class in September. Wisely using “in-between” moments and deeming most tasks as “urgent” can do wonders for you because you literally make the most of every minute. And let’s graduate without regrets! Wishing you all the best!
- Acclimating to the Bus System
Don’t Fuss About the BusBy Sanjiv Prasad, BME 2023Before even coming to Rutgers, I remember some of my peers were dreading the bus system after just hearing rumors from college students. I had already formed an opinion on the subject after seeing the countless Rutgers bus memes online and the complaints so many people had. On top of this, the bus system on paper just seemed incredibly daunting. After all, the Rutgers bus system is the second largest bus system in NJ. I wondered how one could possibly catch the right bus and make it to class on different campuses, on time.To my surprise, the Rutgers bus system turned out to be very easy to use and quite efficient. There are designated bus routes that take students from one campus to another and stop at various locations along the way. Many of these stops have recognizable names and buildings that you will probably find yourself remembering in just days! Rutgers makes an effort to make their bus system easy to use. The Transloc app allows students to track the current location of individual buses, how many minutes until said buses arrive, and all the various stops it visits along the way. The bus system is a well-oiled machine, with routes taking you to and from campuses in the shortest distance possible, others with routes going to popular stops in loops, and others taking you through New Brunswick!There are usually enough buses that one does not have to worry about being late, as long as they responsibly manage their time. The bus system even accounts for large numbers of people and heavy traffic to stay on track. Not only do the buses run late into the night but there is a system in place for every single day of the week. There are many seats available on the buses, but sometimes you have to stand during peak periods. This is usually not a problem as there are sufficient handles and grips to get you from one place to another without slipping.The bus drivers are incredibly nice people who will do their best. Who knows, you might even meet some interesting people on every ride! Sometimes, the journey is better than the destination.
- How to Get Involved on Campus Your First Year
Friends, Food, & Fun: Finding Your Place at RutgersBy Pearl Lee Schraeder, BME 2023When I first came to Rutgers, the five sprawling campuses, thousands of new faces and drastic lifestyle changes were daunting. Many questions swirled around in my head. Where would I fit in? What kind of activities were there? Would I find friends with the same values as me? Thankfully, the answers to these questions were soon brought to me.At the end of the first week of classes, I walked with a group of new friends down College Avenue where Rutgers holds their annual Involvement Fair. For a few hours, the avenue was closed to allow approximately 500 Rutgers organizations to table information and gain potential members. From intramural field hockey to Seeing Eye Puppy Raising club, to even a vegetarian club, Rutgers has any activity that you could imagine!After going to the Involvement Fair, I still had so many possibilities to choose from. I wanted to narrow down my options so I looked to online social media platforms next. I found that most Rutgers organizations were very active on Instagram and Facebook. There, I was able to find when their interest meetings were being held so that I could learn more about them.For me, I found my place with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the Engineering Governing Council (EGC). Being a female engineering student and having a supportive group of other enthusiastic and high-achieving women around me was inspiring. Plus, at every SWE meeting they served pizza (amazing, I know). I also became a Class Representative in EGC where I could serve as a liaison between my peers and the council, and help make the School of Engineering the best it could be.At the start of the semester, I had a lot of time on my hands and I wanted to try new things. The Rutgers Division of Student Affairs held “Late Knight Events” on Friday evenings. Not only were there fun games, free food, and giveaways, but I was able to meet a ton of people that I can now call my friends!The Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA) was another great resource to find activities to do. RUPA held a ton of engaging student events such as hotdog day, roller skating, and a concert event called Beats on the Banks–and that’s only naming a few.No matter what kind of sport, religion, hobby, academic subject, or group you are passionate about, there is a place waiting for you at Rutgers!
- Choosing Your Major
A “Major” WinBy Tasnim Quayum, ISE 2023One of the most popular questions that people tend to ask when meeting for the first time on campus was one that used to scare me the most: “So, what’s your major?” Picking my major was a topic that was always in the back of my mind. Even though I was technically already an engineering major, I had picked it on a whim. I figured that I would take a few classes and see if I would enjoy it, with the worst-case scenario being that I would have some math and science credits under my belt. I was most worried about picking a major because of the commitment. As an engineer, it is difficult to change your major after declaring just because of how rigorous the curriculum is. Choosing a major also meant choosing to stay in the School of Engineering (SOE) or maybe even transferring to the School of Arts and Sciences.The first thing that I did to help me figure out what to do was meet with an SOE dean. A lot of people don’t seem to take advantage of this resource, but for me, it was the perfect place to start out. I made an appointment and soon got the chance to discuss how I was feeling about choosing a major. Through this meeting, I had the opportunity to ask about everything, from the industry to the different departments. I came away from the meeting having a better idea of what engineering really was and what my journey through Rutgers would look like if I stuck to the program. That was the moment that I decided to become an engineer.After that, I had to narrow down what type of engineering I wanted to do. This for a lot of people happened during the “Intro to Engineering” class all freshmen are required to take, but that class instead confused me because the various fields seemed so interesting. As the year went on, I knew I had to figure out my major soon. It felt that everyone around me had it all already planned out while I was still scrambling. So, I began to talk to upperclassmen to learn about their experience in the different engineering departments and hear about what each of the majors were really like. I also attended all kinds of major-related events, from department tours to presentations to peer-to-peer conversations.The final event that I went to was an Industrial and Systems Engineering Night. The event itself was very relaxed, with a few students and a faculty member who were excited to share. Talking to them, I realized that Industrial and Systems Engineering aligned with my career goals better than any other major. It was a field where I could really work for any kind of company and focus on more big-picture projects, the part of engineering that appealed to me most. I had scored a major win by finding the right major for me.
- Overcoming a Fear at RU
Tackling Social AnxietyBy Victoria (Tori) McKeown, ISE 2020Entering college, I was very insecure, lost, and scared. Starting a new phase of life is hard and, personally, I always had difficulty finding a sense of community because my social anxiety prevented me from making friends easily. This anxiety held me back from many social interactions. For example, I would always choose to text or email someone to avoid any vocal or physical interaction. At the time, I was very fearful of even the smallest of interactions and, as a result, I was scared that it would be difficult for me to assimilate to the vastly diverse Rutgers culture. Plus, since Rutgers is such a large school, I continuously questioned my decision to accept my admission to the School of Engineering.When I moved into my dorm on Move-In Day, and said that final goodbye to my parents before embarking on this new chapter, I specifically remember feeling a wave of nervousness. I was losing my last line of defense, my family, and I was scared of not being able to find friends in the upcoming Day’s welcome events. Although this was something very foreign to me and it can be difficult to dive into the unknown sometimes, I told myself then that it was time to be brave! As I reflect back on my time at Rutgers as a graduating senior, I truly believe that Move-In Day was a major milestone in overcoming my social anxiety. The best advice that I could give to anyone entering Rutgers who has social anxiety is to have confidence and pace yourself! First, even though you may not have confidence initially, fake it until you make it! It is surprising how faking confidence can actually transform into being genuinely confident in yourself. Second, I have learned that it is important to pace yourself. On Move-In Day, I decided to only go to a few welcome events, so that I could practice talking with others because we all know that practice makes perfect. As a Rutgers Student, you will quickly realize that you can carry a conversation with anyone. Because everyone is so different, the conversations you have will guide and steer themselves, and in the process, you get completely immersed in the conversation that you forget that you were scared to talk to that person to begin with!The key that I found is that there is no rush in making friends. Once I had gained some social confidence, I started evolving into my best self in so many ways. Rutgers has provided me with that sense of home-away-from-home on all fronts: in the classroom with my peers, in student organizations, and within the greater New Brunswick community. If you have social anxiety, please trust me when I say that you WILL find your little niche at Rutgers to call your own, and you will be so grateful that you took that leap to come to Rutgers. Rutgers was the main catalyst that pushed me past my social anxiety and has molded me into the person I am today.
- On Campus Housing
Barr: My Second Home!By Ritikha Vengadesh, BME 2023Living on-campus at Rutgers during my freshman year has been such a memorable experience. I lived in Barr Hall, which is one of the dorms on Busch with an Engineering LLC. At first, it was extremely daunting to make new friends and talk to people who live on the same floor or in the same building as you. However, once you find something in common with people it is much easier to talk to them.Thankfully, since all first-year engineers take the same courses, you can always strike up a conversation about classes and someone will definitely be able to help you out in Barr. Additionally, engineering is a major that requires hard work, passion, and a lot of time management. It is not always an easy journey, but that’s where Barr comes into play. Living in a setting where everyone understands what you are going through and is able to support you is extremely rewarding. I’ve noticed that me and my friends all have different subjects that we excel in so there is always someone that can help me, whether it is Chemistry or Calculus.At home, I’m used to having a room to myself, so having a roommate was definitely a new experience for me. However, me and my roommate got along extremely well and I enjoyed having someone that I could talk to just to get my mind off of school and having someone to ask for homework help. Our room was a decent size with ample room for us to walk in the middle and store our stuff. All rooms in Barr also come with an A/C unit, which was extremely useful during the early months of the fall semester.Coming into college, communal bathrooms were a concern of mine. At first, it was hard to adjust to the idea of having to share showers with other girls. But the cleaning staff is very diligent with cleaning the bathrooms and our floor did a good job at not making a mess so it ended up not being much of a hassle. Just remember to bring shower shoes!No matter where you end up living on campus, be sure to make the best of your time and talk to as many people as possible. You’re only at Rutgers for four years and the people you meet will make an impact on the rest of your life. Make the most of your time here and we hope to see you in the fall!
Exploring More: Sophomore and Junior Experience
By the time you’re wrapping up your first-year studies, you will be so well acclimated to SoE you’ll almost forget what it felt like to be a newbie. Your sophomore and junior years are when you’ll really begin to make your mark. This is the time to settle into your major, look into internships, actively get involved in student organizations, make connections with faculty, and take on research projects.
- Internship Experience
Landing My Dream InternshipBy Atmika, ECE 2021I never could've imagined landing my dream internship the summer after sophomore year, but the Rutgers community gave me boatloads of confidence and support I needed to believe in myself.As an aspiring software engineer, getting to work at Google in New York was something I always hoped and dreamed of. So, naturally, I took the first shot I could take when the application for the STEP (Student Training in Engineering Program) Internship opened up during the spring of my sophomore year. Technical interviews on top of worrying that my resume was too skimpy made the process of getting an internship seem daunting.However, being at a large engineering school meant that I had access to upperclassmen who had been in my exact shoes and have landed full-time roles at awesome tech companies. I took advantage of this and had people from the Women In Computer Science club and the Society of Women Engineers help me prep for my interviews. They also helped me practice talking about my accomplishments with the research I had done the previous summer at the Rutgers Wireless Information and Networking Lab. On top of that, organizations at Rutgers host tons of career fairs and networking events with companies, so I was able to attend those and become exposed to speaking to professionals and even get used to not being afraid to brag a little bit.At Google, I had the opportunity to work on a team that produced AI-centric Android feature prototypes, and I was given complete ownership over my very own feature. I was paired up with another intern, and for three months we worked alongside each other, learning and coding as much as we could. Besides the free food cooking classes, and office dogs, my most favorite part of the company was being surrounded by amazing minds. I made it my side-mission to meet employees from various teams and hear as many of their life stories as I could by scheduling 2-3 coffee chats per week. To anyone who's interested in interning somewhere, this is something I'd highly recommend doing because it really opened up my eyes to the different paths people took to end up working at this one company. For instance, my manager who is currently a senior software engineer, did his Bachelor's and Master’s degrees in Victorian Literature before teaching himself how to code! And I even met a former professional skateboarder, as well as people who worked as photographers and designers for several small agencies and startups.Meeting all these amazing people, and learning so much from them is what made my summer the best summer yet. I was able to go in with the people skills that I gained from going to a large school like Rutgers School of Engineering, and I came out with the confidence to recognize my own abilities and growth.
- Co-op Experience
My Professional Journey: Starting from the bottom to landing InternshipsBy Bonnie, MAE 20202019 was a truly transformative year for me.I had transferred to Rutgers’ School of Engineering as a sophomore in 2017. Being that I was a transfer student, my priority had been to perform well in class and gain as much knowledge in the principles and applications of engineering prior to pursuing any internships or job opportunities.Little did I know that the process from applying to landing an internship/co-op was so extensive and super competitive. By the time I hit junior year, many of my classmates were landing internships/co-ops in Fortune 100 companies.It soon made me realize that I was “behind on the game”.It wasn't until the summer of my junior year that I finally made the decision to dedicate my time to actively apply to internships. My philosophy is that “there will always be more to learn and absorb”. And so, I continuously put in my mind to trust that “there is no time but now.”Upon realizing that my resume was not as strong for lacking in the “job experience” section, I soon had to think, strategize, and commit. So, I asked myself the following questions:What areas of engineering am I passionate or curious to learn about? Which industries would I be most interested in?What are the opportunities within my reach that can help shape my resume?What could help me stand out and make me a strong candidate as opposed to one with industry knowledge and internship experiences in their belt?What are my strength areas?What areas did I need to improve professionally and personally to ensure I had that boost of confidence during a job interview?As intimidating as everything seemed at first, everyone in the Toyota team were always willing to help and teach me. To them, the priority was to make sure that I received the most raw experience, and so they allowed me to handle tasks that required great responsibility and trust.I’m incredibly thankful for the experience at Revlon and Toyota! Not only I got to explore and live in other cities, I also got to experience the different work environments and processes, met a lot of amazing people, and was able to have a better understanding of two different industries that are so impactful in our day-to-day lives.These were the questions that helped me strategize and act. And the answer was simple, my strongest resource was all on-campus and that would be my ultimate stepping-stone. Rutgers is one of the largest academic institutions with the most research opportunities.I pursued a research opportunity that would help me learn new programs and applications which allowed me to reinforce my technical skills. The research helped me fulfil the “hard skill” portion of my resume.Public speaking terrified me, and I’m sure that many of us would avoid the occasion of speaking to a crowd if we could. At that moment, I realized that by overcoming that “fear”, it would then help boost the confidence I needed to face an interviewer or recruiter at a job fair. It would improve my speech and help me vocalize my thoughts more carefully.The thought was, “what is the job that gives you constant exposure and requires you to speak to a group throughout the day? What would push me outside of my comfort zone?”Of course, the answer was simple. The Engineering Ambassador job.To this day, I truly think that it was the smartest move I made. I met so many great people and started to feel more comfortable putting myself out there. And so, it motivated me to attend more job fairs and professional conferences.That’s when I landed my first internship opportunity at Revlon as a packaging engineering intern.I have always looked up to the beauty industry since I was a little girl. It felt surreal to be working there.Sometimes I would see Debra Perelman, who is the current CEO for Revlon, just casually walking by to her office which always left me in awe.Nevertheless, even though the program was only for 8 weeks, it opened my eyes to seeing the amount of work that went into creating and delivering something as small as a lip stick. The constant the back and forth within multiple divisions and suppliers to ensure that the quality of products met the standards we wanted to deliver to our customers was always impressive to see and learn from. On top of all, what was most remarkable to me about Revlon was their commitment to their customers.Upon completing my internship at Revlon, I soon moved to Michigan to pursue a Co-Op with Toyota. It had been a completely new realm and nothing like the beauty industry. Having been placed in R&D, the projects I was assigned were more technical and research intensive. In turn, the internship was more focused on bringing creative solutions and required great knowledge and understanding of the applications and engineering principles.
- Undergraduate Research Experience
Undergraduate ResearchBy Wen-Chen Chen, CBE 2021Some of the things written on my resume are much too glorified. “Exercised safety compliance and good laboratory practices” is just fancy talk for “made sure I don’t blow up something or accidentally endanger myself”. I almost did the former when I first started undergraduate research; hopefully the latter does not occur.During the fall of sophomore year in biochemical engineering, I was browsing the SOE website for research opportunities and reading professors’ papers. It was important to understand their interests, narrow down the best options, and write emails tailored to each opportunity. I put together a resume with laboratory skills and freshman club activities, and emailed it to professors, explaining how my interests and skills were suited for their research. After a few interviews, I decided Professor Chundawat’s Glycan Engineering Laboratory was a good fit, as his research is directly applicable to the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, which I was interested in. I would be later doing research on mutant GH5 enzymatic proteins, which are used in the modification of glycans and could potentially be used in glycoengineering pharmaceuticals and vaccines.Upon completion of the Rutgers Environmental Health and Safety (REHS) training, I thought I was ready to do some world-changing research, but in the beginning, I was making LB media, bacteria plates, and mistakes. I almost blew up a glass bottle in the autoclave machine, a giant steamer used to decontaminate glassware and other equipment. I forgot to remove the cap from a bottle and Chandra, my PhD mentor, stopped me just as I placed it in the machine, reminding me the capped bottle would explode under pressure. I’m really glad that he and all the other graduate students working at the lab were there to guide me if I needed any assistance.Sometimes I made so many mistakes, I wondered if I was the mistake. But there was no time to wallow in a pit of doubt and self-deprecation. I recorded every experiment in a lab notebook, noted everything that I had trouble with, and made sure to fully understand the steps of each experiment I did. Sometimes I had to lyse cells using a sonication machine to collect proteins, or perform chromatographic techniques to test the protein activity, or analyze images of gels. Every so often, I’d meet up with Professor Chundawat to discuss my progress and the next steps I could take to move the project forward. A few classmates of mine joined the lab during the spring semester as well.After about a year at the lab, I felt that I was starting to get the hang of things, and was able to run more experiments independently. There were times where I would get unexpected or poor results, and I would have to revise and redo my experiments. I’ve come to acknowledge that imperfection is a perfectly normal thing when doing research, and every block in the road was another opportunity to learn something new. It was a long and, at times, frustrating experience, but doing undergraduate research has become an integral part of my college life as an engineer.
- Continuing Student Scholarships
Hard Work Pays Off
By Dante Torello, ECE 2020
It is very hard to have a conversation about college without also talking about money. Oftentimes the price of education or how large the financial package the university offers becomes a driving point in deciding which school to go to. In my experience, Rutgers definitely beat out the other schools that I applied to in both price and financial aid package offered.
Throughout high school I knew that I was going to be putting myself through college with very little financial help. As a result I tried my hardest to keep my grades up in hopes to be eligible for academic scholarships since there was absolutely no way I was going to get any athletic scholarships. Upon admission to Rutgers, and receiving the financial aid package, it was enough to make Rutgers my top pick and happily confirm my attendance, but I was still going to graduate with a fair amount of student loans. Freshman year, I was eligible for federal work study where I was placed in the office of Undergraduate Education in the School of Engineering. There I worked with many of the deans of the engineering school and at the time, I had no idea how beneficial this would be towards my college experience. I received some of the best advice and aid on any topic you could think of, like how to find research opportunities, land internships, and most importantly, apply to scholarships for current students. I had no idea that Rutgers offered additional scholarships for current students! I thought what you were given at admission was it. The application process for additional scholarships was an easy process, pretty much exactly what you would expect, write an essay about yourself, describe some of the organizations you are involved with, internship experience and any additional details that would highlight your best attributes.
I applied for the scholarships the first chance I could, at the end of my freshman year. Luckily I continued the trend of trying my hardest in school from high school into college and was able to keep my grades relatively high for my first year here and received an additional scholarship for my sophomore year! Yes! Maybe this whole trying hard at school thing is worth all of the effort. I still had to take some loans out, but I was in a much better position than I was expecting to be in, and it also showed me the potential benefits that working hard and doing your best academically had to offer. I once again applied for the continuing scholarship at the end of my sophomore year. This is where things really changed for me. Scholarship applications were due some time in May, and the results were supposed to come out in early to mid August. Mid August came and went, and I had not gotten any information back. I was beginning to worry that I had also lost the scholarship that I was awarded the year prior. Until one day, I got an email and it was the award letter email. I remember anxiously reading the email, and then seeing the amount. It was enough to cover my entire tuition as well as housing. I genuinely could not believe my eyes and replied to the email asking if they were sure the amount written was the intended amount and that there were no typos within the email. To this day I remember that feeling, a mixture of excitement, relief, and immense gratitude. The last two years of working my hardest had been acknowledged and rewarded. I was incredibly thankful for that and it only increased my drive to succeed since I now felt like I had to show that the selection was not a mistake. I applied for scholarships one last time, for my final year at Rutgers and received the same one. Hard work does not go unnoticed here at the School of Engineering. If you want something and are willing to do what you can to get it, you will find success and receive help along the way.
- Off Campus Housing
My Home Away from Home (Living Off-Campus)By Sam Cheng, ECE 2021
This past year, I had seven housemates and shared a room with two of them. And it was the best living situation I could have imagined.
I met some of these housemates only a few days into freshman year after living in the same dorm together, and some of them I didn’t meet until last September. After months of sharing the ups and downs with them, learning about and learning from them, and just coexisting, they’ve become my home away from home.
Much of the logistics of attending school while living off-campus didn’t change. The mornings tended to be very quiet, and I often found myself scurrying out of the house five minutes before a bus to Busch was arriving at the student center. I lived so close to campus, though, that I would still end up four minutes early.
The difference of living off-campus versus on-campus was more apparent in the evenings. After a day of classes, and when I was much more awake, stepping into the house was an immediate relief. It felt like our little bubble, a place separate enough from school that it felt distinctly different--somewhere that we had a sense of ownership and belonging. In fact, step into anyone’s off-campus house or apartment and you feel like you are stepping into someone’s home. All the elements come together, from the furniture they choose or the chore wheel on the fridge or the decorations taped to the walls or even the plants and pets they share their house with (Once, I walked into a house full of snakes. Real, live, squiggly snakes. You never know what you’ll learn about someone by walking into their house).
In the evenings, I could usually count on at least one of the seven housemates being home at any given time, which meant there was always someone to talk to about your day or to watch The Great British Bake-Off with. It also came in really handy to have someone act as a backup alarm when you knew you wouldn’t wake up from your nap with a regular alarm. While I appreciate the two years I spent living in on-campus housing, living off-campus turned roommates into family, and it gave us a space that was uniquely ours.
When choosing between housing options, remember that off-campus housing looks different from place to place. It could be an apartment or a house, a single or double room, or within walking or driving distance. Finally, the decision to live on- or off-campus is a personal one, but rest assured that you will find your family at Rutgers either way! When it comes down to student housing, I’ve found that the where doesn’t matter as much as the who, which will ultimately make up your home away from home.
- Studying Abroad
My Study Abroad Experience
By Hima Tallam, BME 2020
My name is Hima and I am a senior majoring in Biomedical Engineering. I would like to share with you all the amazing story of how I ended up spending an entire summer in China, without spending any money from my own pocket. Let me start from the beginning. When I came to Rutgers as a freshman, I decided to have a random roommate and I was paired with an international student from China. Little did I know at the time that we would grow to become best friends. When it came time to decide how we would spend our summers, we both decided to apply to the Douglas STEM summer stipend program, which would allow us to use the money to do research on any project we chose. We had this whimsical idea that if we both got the stipend I would go to China with her for the summer to do a Research Internship at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Miraculously, we were both awarded the Douglas STEM summer stipend and were both accepted into the International Research Internship program at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
I ended up going to Shanghai and staying with my best friend and her family during the duration of my internship. Fortunately for us, the university we were working in was a walkable distance from her house. The project that I chose to work on was something I was deeply invested in. It was the metabolic regulation and genetic engineering of medicinal plants under Professor Kexuan Tang and Dr. Qifang Pan. We mainly worked with Artemisia annua, a plant native to China which has received attention due to its antimalarial properties. I am a big advocate of herbal medicine and to be given an opportunity to be a part in this kind of research development was absolutely life changing. On the weekdays, I would work on my project and on the weekends I would travel to different places within China. I learned so much about the culture, the food, and even picked up some Mandarin while I was there. All in all, I couldn’t say that I would have been able to have an experience like this if it weren’t for Rutgers. Our plan seemed crazy to us at first, but somehow all the pieces came together. My advice to you is if you have a seemingly far fetched idea of something you want to do, you can make it happen. Don’t discredit your ideas so quickly and the pieces will come together like it did for me at Rutgers.
- Student Athletic Experience
Flippy SistersBy Nicole Fraidenraich, MAE 2023Throughout my life I have tried a few sports, starting with Gymnastics, Jiu Jitsu, and some Track and Field. So, when I arrived at Rutgers, I knew I wanted to keep active. I was not sure how I would pursue this because there are many ways to keep active on campus with the many gyms and classes available to students. I was lucky that in the first week of school we had the Involvement Fair which showcases over 400 student clubs! I met members of the Club Gymnastics Team and I was immediately certain that I wanted to join the team.I was nervous to go to the first practice and meet the team, but I was immediately greeted by kind people who helped me settle in and find my way at the gym. The girls on the team, the executive board, and the coaches are so friendly and supportive. While I had done some gymnastics before, I am not a pro. The team welcomes everyone to try the sport and helps them no matter if they have been practicing gymnastics since they were 3 or if they are seeing a vault table for the first time at the age of 20. I have grown immensely as a person and gymnast in my first year at Rutgers. I have made many friends and the team is like a family. To have such a wonderful support system like a team at college is lovely.Being a STEM major and a student athlete can be challenging at times because of the time commitments. While each club and team are different, it is nice that there is flexibility in intramural and club sports. For example, the gymnastics team has two memberships for different levels of participation, and you can always take time to focus on your studies when you need. And because you are part of a team and family, they can help you with your studies too. Many members are upperclassmen and have taken the courses you have, so they are generally more than happy to help you out with an assignment. When you manage to balance your studies, classes and practices it is extremely rewarding and I would recommend it to all.I hope you find your team and family at Rutgers, have fun and good luck!
Leaving a Legacy
Senior year is filled with anticipation, excitement for the future, and nostalgia. This year includes senior design projects where you'll use all of the knowledge from the past three years in a culminating group project. You will also begin your job search in earnest or plan for further studies and graduate school. The next chapter of your life is on the horizon, but Rutgers Engineering will always be part of you!
- Senior Capstone Design
The Impact of Senior DesignBy Priti Kantesaria, ISE 2020Having gone through a traumatic injury in the past, I understand how long and tiresome the recovery process can be. In fact, 79% of patients do not adhere to their recovery plan of care, due to the distances to the doctor's office, detrimentally high costs, or disinterest. Many times, I dreamed of a smart, engaging rehabilitation system that physical therapy patients could use at home, with doctors being able to remotely analyze patient progress and make recommendations. For the past two semesters, I have worked on making this dream into a reality while designing my Industrial and Systems Engineering Senior Design Project. This resulted in SPARTA, Smart Physical and Rehabilitation Therapy Anywhere.My Senior Design team (Tori, Sam, Sara, and I) created an at-home Physical Therapy system consisting of a video game that has patients perform typical physical therapy exercises in an interactive platform, and a comprehensive data dashboard, that allows doctors to see highlights and recommendations based on each session’s knee angle data. To collect the patient’s knee movement data, we utilized a Microsoft Kinect camera and to create our interactive game, we used Unity software with custom C# script. The doctor dashboard was designed in Tableau, and validated by two Physical Therapists.Throughout this process, I learned so much more than the technical aspects of the project; I learned so much more about my abilities / capacity to push myself and the power of being a part of a team. If you want to see what I made in person, you can test my project out during future Industrial Engineering tours!
- The Career Search
Finding My Career
By Carlos Gonzalez, CEE 2020
During my time at Rutgers, it has become apparent that the School of Engineering wants their students to succeed. There are so many resources and tools for students to utilize to ensure that they have a successful time during their four years here.
The School of Engineering and the Civil Department at Rutgers helped me secure a full-time offer in early November. The Civil Department constantly sent job postings, networking opportunities, career fair reminders, and internship opportunities.
Through an email that I received from the Civil Department, I was able to secure a unique internship, in construction management. I spent my summer 2019 in New Mexico, at a Navajo Reservation, focusing on more than 10 different construction projects. While in New Mexico I was able to put aside technical knowledge and focus solely on soft skills, people and resource management, scheduling and budgeting, and operational management.
Two months after I came back from my internship, I attended a career fair, open to all engineering students, organized by the Society of Hispanic Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, and the Minority Engineering Educational Task and was able to secure multiple interviews based on my prior internship experience. All of the companies that attended this career fair were actively seeking students for engineering internships and I even know a few freshmen that were able to obtain opportunities this way.
I was also able to tap into classmate resources and feedback from my friends while navigating through the interview and job offer process. I never hesitated to ask friends from Engineers Without Borders or the American Society of Civil Engineers to address some of the concerns or questions I had. Additionally, I tapped into alumni already in the field for extra tips and tricks.
Without a doubt, Rutgers offered me an expansive network of resources. Through career fairs, professional and departmental help, and a strong classmate and alumni network I was able to secure a full-time job offer in early November as a project engineer. I'm looking forward to the challenges and experiences after Rutgers and I'm confident I can always reach out to former professors, advisors, and classmates for continued career advice.
Reflecting on My Fitness JourneyBy Tiffany Yang, CBE 2020Before I came to Rutgers, I had been a ballerina and dancer for over 13 years. The hours spent every week at the studio became an inherent part of my life, which has been reflected in my discipline, respect, and even my body. I never realized how important staying active and taking the time to focus on your physical health was until I arrived at Rutgers and no longer had my dance classes as an outlet. While I joined some clubs focused specifically on dance, I mostly just wanted an opportunity to stay fit with flexibility in my schedule to pursue other leadership and academic positions. I figured college was all about exploring and I craved to try something new.At first, I tried running more on the treadmill because all Rutgers students had free access to the gym equipment and I knew it would be a definite way to burn off some of that Freshman 15 (it’s real). While I definitely worked up a sweat from the cardio, I dreaded every minute of my workout and I came to the conclusion that running definitely did not excite me. A few weeks later, I learned that students were also able to access all fitness classes in addition to the gym facilities. Remembering my enjoyment of dance classes, I hoped that the similar group setting in these fitness ones would motivate me and push my body more.
I tried out a whole bunch -- zumba, yoga, weightlifting, HIIT classes, spin -- and it turned out that I loved them all. The instructor yelling at you to do better, the loud music, the supportive community, the energy -- I couldn’t have asked for more. My favorite gym class is a high-rep and low-intensity weightlifting class called BodyPump, and I’ve even specially chosen certain sections of my engineering courses so that this fitness class could be a staple in my schedule for the past 8 semesters (Tuesdays from 5 PM - 6 PM!). It works every part of your body and can make you so sore that it’s a struggle to walk on stairs or even sit down in your chair. I’ve shared my love for this class with friends, clubs that I’m a part of, and even professors, and I’ve gotten them hooked as well! In fact, check out the picture below, which shows me and some wonderful SoE Ambassadors after a tough BodyPump class :)
Over the course of my four years here, I have been able to pursue my academic interests, while molding my own personal fitness schedule thanks to the fitness classes and access to the facilities. Rutgers provides a variety of ways for students to stay active, and I am incredibly grateful to be part of a university that prioritizes my physical wellness.
- Reflecting Back
What I Wish my Freshman Self KnewBy Krishna Bhutada, MSE 2021Although my journey at Rutgers is far from over, I have often looked back at where I was freshman year and where I am now. I had so many misconceptions, so many fears, so many doubts about what college is and what it is like to be an engineering student. And after some 2 and a half years, there are a lot of things I wish I could have told my freshman year self.Get Involved. There are more than 600 clubs and organizations at Rutgers that range from Greek life to community service to the arts. This is a great way to pick up a new hobby or to continue a passion of yours from earlier on. Joining a club can end up being a second family or just a way to destress from your classes. I personally joined multiple organizations including a professional academic club, a nonprofit, and Greek Life. Be open to new opportunities, to new people, to new situations. College is a perfect place to redefine or improve on yourself, and it is important to welcome that change.You will have time. There is a common misconception that I believed as well: Engineering students do not have time. The key is to stay organized. By even making a google calendar, you come to realize how much time you might actually have. Take some time especially your first semester to figure out how you manage your time best and the rest will follow. I even found that joining different clubs or making space to go to campus events, actually made me more responsible and more motivated to study earlier on and get my work done on time.Get to know your professors, deans, and upperclassmen. They are there to help you succeed and to help you get to where you want to be. Don’t be nervous – if you have a problem, ask them. Office hours can be very helpful, and it is a perfect way for your professor to get to know you a little bit better. I have learned that people are happy to help and love seeing people excited about learning and bettering themselves.Pay attention in Intro to Engineering. This class that you take your first semester at Rutgers is more important than you would think. This is a great way to learn about all the majors offered in the School of Engineering at Rutgers. You will learn about research opportunities, job prospects, internships, senior design projects, and more. If you are uncertain about what engineering major is right for you, this class will most certainly help. In addition to this class, many departments have open houses or major nights where students are invited to learn more about the specific major and mingle with professors.Use the resources Rutgers provides. The Science and Engineering Resource Center (SERC) offers one-on-one tutoring sessions and student study groups for different classes. Use the libraries offered on every campus for a great study environment. Make an appointment with a dean to go over your schedule for next semester or your four-year plan. Attend events hosted by organizations like resume builder sessions. Go to company informational events. Make sure to stop by the Career Services Center in the Busch Student Center, especially in preparation for career fairs. Rutgers has many resources available for their students, and they are there to make your life easier.
- Campus Living
Reflecting on off and on Campus LivingBy Kristene Aguinaldo, ECE 2019Over the course of my four years at Rutgers, I have been fortunate enough to have lived both on and off-campus, which gave me the opportunity to truly immerse myself in the Scarlet Knight experience. Because Rutgers has so much land (five different campuses!), there are plenty of options to find a place to live across all of the campuses. In my freshman year, I was placed on the fourth floor of Barr Hall, a co-ed all engineering dorm. In that year, the fourth floor was home to the Douglass Engineering Living-Learning Community (DELLC), which is an all-female living-learning community specifically for engineers. Barr Hall gives me fond memories because it was so easy to make friends and develop a community. I remember meeting new people who shared the same classes as me, always having a study buddy available, and begging my Resident Assistant for advice in all of my classes.In my sophomore year, my freshman year roommate and I decided to get a Busch Suite with a couple of our engineering friends! The Busch Suites are three doubles that have a shared living room and bathroom area. The Suites are a really convenient location, only a couple minutes away from our favorite engineering buildings, bus stops, and the dining hall. If you did not live in the Busch Suites, other areas of living are the BEST dorms or other dorms across Rutgers campus.After two years on Busch, I wanted to get a fresh experience by deciding to live off-campus on College Avenue! In my junior year, I lived in an 8-person house and in my senior year, I live in an off-campus apartment. Although people may be fearful of buses to and from your Busch engineering classes, I never felt as if living on a separate campus was an obstacle for me; it eventually gets routine. Living on College Avenue was such a great decision, since I really enjoy the liveliness and busyness of the area around me. As soon as I step outside, I see many students walking around, talking with their friends, and grabbing a bite to eat. It is really convenient for me to take a few steps from my apartment to my other friends' off-campus homes or on-campus dorms and hang out - either by studying, simply just chatting, or getting some bubble tea.From these past four years, the buildings and rooms where I have lived really shaped the activities I was involved in and the relationships I have developed. I was lucky to find communities that gave me extremely fond memories and a lasting network in the engineering world. No matter where you live, even if you are a commuter, it is important to remember to immerse yourself in different communities throughout Rutgers, since there are so many positive memories you can make when you are surrounded by great people. If you choose to come to Rutgers, remember to say "Hello" to your neighbors and classmates, and try to develop and maintain relationships that will last a lifetime by meeting people in the communities you choose to be involved in!