There is more to our students than just their technical interests. And, the more outside interests and experiences one has, including the arts and creative thinking, the better! Engineering and computing makes one's other interests stronger, and those other interests enhance one's engineering and computer science knowledge and ability.
For starters, you can see that through the submissions to our 7-word Autobiographies. One Life, Seven Words. What Are Yours? (submit yours here: https://goto.unm.edu/7wordbiography).
It is important for you, the student, to develop "holistically' by embracing activities and interests that enable you to utilize both sides of the brain. Not to mention the many benefits of being involved in activities beyond your curriculum. Diversity is crutial for the success of society. Your familiarity with different communities helps you find new problems to solve and new ways of solving them. You can apply your ideas across disciplines, find new markets for products, find people to help who are not on the current radar, and, it's a great conversation piece at dinner parties.
For example "holistic approach, supporting our students to utilize both sides of the brain. Some of the best innovators are Engineers! Encouraging their creativity is crucial and this idea of the Creative Industry Lab presented HERE, is very interesting," - as stated by one of the SoE staff/faculty and "when I wrote poetry, I thought of poetry and physics as both finding the most simple elegant solution for expressing an idea. Physics generated ideas for me in poetry" from our very own (now retired) Stefi Weisburd.
These abilities include, but are not limited to, blogs (creative or technical), art work (visual or auditory), writings/reports (creative or technical, including published manuscripts), and presentations (oral or posters).
(Are you interested in being showcased? Contact Dr. Yadéeh Sawyer at email@example.com or (505) 277-9151. She is always looking for more examples!)
Here are our very own School of Engineering showcased students.
Expected graduation date: December 2022. He will also be pursuing his Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering through the shared credit program.
Where are you from: Albuquerque, New Mexico
I am an artist.
I am an engineer.
There is no one medium that defines me or my style.
When I am unable to create with my hands, my brushes or color the world around me, I am learning about creation through the mathematics, physics and energy surrounding us.
Seldom the mediums of mathematics and acrylics coexist in the same time zone.
I must immerse myself in one medium at a time to learn its beauty and feel its pain.
To create art, it requires passion, dedication, skill, failure, endurance, and a desire to grow.
To be an engineer it requires passion, dedication, skill, failure, endurance, and a desire to grow.
To learn about the arts is to learn about the secrets of our inner selves intimately discovering the process for bringing our creations to life.
To learn about engineering is to learn about the secrets of the universe and know why it is.
Anyone can be an artist if you devote your every waking hour, every breath and all your emotion until it becomes part of your soul.
Anyone can be an engineer if you devote your every waking hour, every breath and all your emotion until it becomes part of your soul.
I am an artist.
I am an engineer.
Expected graduation date: May 2023.
Where are you from: Rio Rancho, New Mexico
In every field of engineering, there is an intersection of what ideas come up on paper versus the physical reality that constrains and regulates what is possible. Often this physical reality is how the tools and machines we use as engineers are manufactured. It often is overwhelming the layers of complexities that come with modern manufacturing and for many engineers is a crucial part that they lack any experience in which is problematic as its one thing to have an idea on paper, but to make your idea a physical reality is a whole other ball game. The approach I wanted to take to start getting some experience with manufacturing things was to combine traditional metal casting along with a sustainability approach using trash aluminum cans I find so I could both better myself as an Electrical engineer with making things with hands on experience along with my interest to preserve and maintain the environment around us.
Learning to cast has drastically changed me for the better as an Electrical engineer as it gave me insight into a variety of topics all at the same time such as Material Science, Art/ Craftsmanship, and even Electrical engineering as well. Understanding the Material properties of the metals I work with which is a combination of physics and chemistry, to making the molds into useful shapes which requires both technical skill and creativity gave me an appreciation of this process which humans have done for thousands of years. It also increases my competency as an engineer as I can additionally make my parts now for my projects giving me another degree of freedom Im both my designs and ideas all the while getting the clean up of the local area around me for my materials. This only furthers my interest in Electrical engineering as the field is full of applying Material science to making useful things which I hope to apply to working on local sustainability initiatives as trash isn't useless if you know what materials you're working with.
Current Year (September 2021): Alumni
2013- Bachelor’s of Science, Biochemistry
2020- Master’s of Science, Biomedical Engineering
Where are you from: Rio Rancho, New Mexico
If you asked me today if my life turned out the way I expected it to, I would say no. That's the funny thing about life; it's unpredictable. If you work hard and keep pushing forward, you will achieve your goals.
If I had any advice for my younger self, I would say there are four basic principles for success.
1. Follow Your Passion
2. Take Time For Yourself
3. Always Give Back
4. Do Not Let Opportunity Pass You By.
1. Follow Your Passion.
A wise man once told me, "your passion will reflect in your work." He was right. When you follow your passion, you see it in the quality of your work, and it allows you to keep pushing forward in times of difficulty. I have a deep-seated fascination with biochemistry along with a heavy sense of compassion for others. This allowed me to maintain my focus on a full-time course load, throughout undergrad, while working 12 hour shifts at a local hospital, and only sleeping an average of four hours per night. The most fulfilling aspect was when I realized I could correlate what I learned in my biochemistry classes to real-world case scenarios. My passion for biochemical pathways and taking care of my patients allowed me to keep a positive outlook and the drive to keep pushing forward at times when I felt like giving up.
My enthusiasm for helping others and medicine came crashing together when my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. I immersed myself in the most cutting-edge medical treatments, from targeted chemotherapy to diagnostic imagery. It was imminently clear that the biomedical engineering field was vastly changing the way we approach medicine. I wanted to be a part of this pivotal moment of medicine and applied to UNM's Biomedical Engineering Master's Program.
To this day, I still have a great passion for medicine and helping others. I am beyond grateful to have a career that allows me to apply my passion by keeping the engineering workforce safe and informed with the most up-to-date facts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Take Time For Yourself.
The engineering field is highly intensive, meticulous, and complexity and nuance define the industry. This level of detail can be exhausting – and as any engineer can tell you, we've all been near the point of 'burnout' at one time or another. I'd like to emphasize several points of advice that have helped me maintain my sanity when I feel I'm under immense pressure.
First, make a habit of taking time to decompress. Earning a Master's degree is a marathon, not a sprint. Any activity, from a daytime adventure or even simply taking a short break to pursue another passion, can act as a powerful tool in helping to reduce immense stress. Some of my favorite outlets are running or going hiking with my husky, Snowy. Once I've decompressed, I can work on tasks with a clear and level-headed approach that allows me to see things from a different perspective.
The second point of advice I'd like to emphasize is not to allow anxiety or stress to overwhelm you. It's easy to try and push yourself to the point of perfection, where you start thinking you are not good enough. There have been numerous occasions throughout my academic career where I worried – my paper wasn't good enough, my grades weren't high enough, or how was I going to prepare adequately for an exam. By taking the time to look at yourself, your accomplishments, and your capabilities from a third-person perspective, you can reframe your thoughts from a negative point of anxiety to a positive sense of collected, confident achievement.
3. Always Give Back
You can learn a great deal about yourself through volunteer work, and the impact can have a massive effect on the community. Recently, a friend and I spent Thanksgiving driving around downtown Albuquerque distributing food and water to the homeless. Giving back that day helped those in need and changed my life in a way I will never forget. I came across a homeless man who was visibly upset. He was yelling and cursing as he paced around contentiously near a trash can. Watching his aggressive demeanor shocked me. I slowly approached him with hesitance and listened as he told me why he was so upset. During the previous night, a person broke a beer bottle on the sidewalk, and he was cleaning up the mess. I knelt to the ground beside the homeless man and used a piece of paper to help him clean up the shattered glass. The street was his home, and he was upset by the way people were disrespecting it. He taught me an important lesson, never assume you know anything about someone you've never met; always be willing to help someone in need, regardless of how things may seem on the surface, as long as it's safe, of course. After we cleaned the glass together, I gave him some food and water. He looked at me and said thank you, but his demeanor made it blatantly clear; he wasn't thanking me for the food and water but because I took the time to help him.
4. Don't Let Opportunity Pass You By.
Life will present you with life-changing opportunities, and it's all about your willingness to take a chance. The more you understand and experience these opportunities, the more you will grow as a person. If you look at my resume, you will see that I've worked as: a Nurse Tech, Anesthesia Tech, Chemist, Quality and Compliance Specialist, Epic Configuration Analyst, and an ES&H coordinator. It seems to be all over the place, but if you look deeper, each role has the same overall theme of medicine and helping others. Remember what I said about following your passion? If you have a passion for something, you will find yourself drawn to it. For example, when I worked as a chemist in the pharmaceutical industry, we had the important responsibility of manufacturing and testing medicine before it was released to the public. Without this opportunity, I would have never understood the hard work and serious time commitment it takes to safely and effectively develop medicine to be used daily in hospitals across the country. Don't ever let opportunities pass you by; you never know what you will learn.
You'll never be where you "expect" to be in life, but the knowledge and experience you gain along the way will shape you into the person you wish to become. If you continue to work hard, you will achieve your goals and one day succeed in any endeavor you put your mind towards.
Current Year (June 2021): Senior
Major: Computer Science
Expected graduation date: May 2022
Where are you from: Bozeman, MT
“I am a student-athlete studying Computer Science at UNM.”
That’s a phrase one doesn’t hear very often in New Mexico. Training 20 hours each week, doing rehab work, and traveling to competitions on top of a demanding engineering course load is something that is not common among students. But those who do experience the hidden drawbacks as well as the benefits of both worlds and how they can be combined into one.
Being a student-athlete and studying engineering means that you will have one of the best time-management skills. It is not just learned, but it is something we must do to balance our commitments. Not only are we handling multiple responsibilities, we juggle multiple goals and find a way to excel in both athletics and academics. It’s a tough thing to do, but it prepares us to be able to handle life in the workforce and/or after graduation.
Being a student-athlete also means we learn teamwork, leadership, and communication skills. The soft skills we practice during training and competition to succeed in our sports translate over into working in teams in the workforce. Although employers may not see the work we put into our sport from a few lines in our resumes, wherever we end up working we will be ready to work with others to strive for a common goal.
From my experience, there is often frustration surrounding balancing our time with our studies among student-athletes. Because of our 20-hour training schedules and weekend competitions, many are not able to take on the same internship, research, work, extracurricular, and volunteer activities as our other peers in engineering may do outside of classes. Our resumes are sparse when we present them in applications and interviews. Many of us don’t gain much technical experience outside of our classes, which makes it difficult to get into internships, jobs, or scholarship programs in the first place. However, there are people out there who admire the time and effort we put into both athletics and academics and see our dedication and persistence. Trying to keep up with our peers in the technical field is difficult, but college athletics is an opportunity that not everyone gets, especially at an NCAA Division 1 level like UNM.
It’s true that there are not many engineers who were also student-athletes. But that doesn’t mean we don’t belong in engineering or in sports. Those who do both take on what may be the hardest thing in their lives. It is truly an extraordinary feat to push our physical limits while trying to learn the skills to pursue a career in STEM. Although it may be disheartening when we get looked over for technical opportunities because we don’t have a lot of experience due to lack of time or just simply lack of time in general, student-athletes are their own type of hidden gem in engineering.
Current Year (September 2021): 1st year graduate student
Major: Electrical Engineering
Expected graduation date: May 2023
Where are you from: Omaha, Nebraska
I have loved running since high school. I started in track and then tried cross country the following fall. It was my escape and allowed me to push myself mentally and physically. I started to get a passion for it when I saw the improvement of my efforts. I have continued to run throughout college and found even more comfort in it after a long day of studying. Additionally, it is nice to get out of the lab once and a while. I really enjoy participating in 5 and 10K fun run races in whatever city I am in, it is a great way to relax, stay active, and meet new people.
Running has several parallels to engineering, one example is in distance running you push yourself to go further than you think you can and in engineering you push yourself to keep trying to solve an impossible equation. You have to be self-motivated for both and be proud of any progress that you have accomplished. If there is ever a point where you feel you cannot go any further or spend any longer on a problem, you can take a drink of water and a deep breath, and keep going.
Current Year (April 2021): Sophomore
Major: Chemical Engineering and International Studies
Expected graduation date: May 2023
Where are you from: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Making ceramics is one of my most favorite activities to do. It is so much fun to make anything I want from start to finish. The darker ones are porcelain and I think my best work so far.
The process is complex, ranging from how I prepare the clay, how I throw a piece, leading up to how I bisque, color, and fire it. When I do my work, I am thinking of the process and how I can maximize how many pieces I can make. There is a combination of steps I need to consider; how much pressure I apply to the clay with my hands and fingers, how hot the kiln is, etc. This process has contributed to my chemical engineering path because it excited me to know that I can create beautiful things. Chemical engineering and making ceramics intersect starting with what materials I need and leading up to the final product. Each step is hand crafted and my love of ceramics has inspired me to pursue chemical engineering.
Current Year (February 2022): Freshman
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Expected graduation date: May 2025
I was raised by a family of artists and musicians. Found a place within the dance community, and one day after attending a hafla (belly dance celebration) I met my smithing teacher while he was teaching a class on japanese weaving. Which brought me into the world of smithing.
Through a class project, I developed a website includes an " introduction to smithing interview" ( PDF version), and a comic book I created from images of my work and my experience for " what to expect for your first project" ( PDF version).
But, to get you started and peak your interest, here's a preview of the first few panels of the comic: