Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Jacob Asgain

The Value of an Internship

Name: Jacob Asgain
Hometown: Smithville, MO, but Portland, Oregon if we’re being technical…
Major: Civil Engineering
Year: Senior
Clubs: ASCE, Tau Beta Pi, Chi Epsilon
Favorite class: Construction Management
Favorite place to study: The conference/study rooms by the CME faculty offices
Why you chose UMKC: UMKC is close to home, not expensive, and it has a great Civil Engineering program.

 

Coming by my first internship was not as easy of a task as I would’ve expected. Being an honors student, many school related things (like homework and studying) came naturally to me, so when I didn’t get the first internship that I applied for (nor the second, third, and many more) it was a strange feeling. Throughout my freshman and sophomore years while my peers were starting their internships, I was still struggling to find one. It wasn’t until the spring semester of my junior year that I obtained my first internship and started working a relevant job that I would be proud to have on my resume.

My first internship was a desk job working as an engineering technician intern, which is a fancy way of saying “I work in auto-cad all day”. Many people enjoy doing this work and I don’t mean to put it down, but it wasn’t the type of work for me. I took this job so I could get relevant experience on my resume, but I am more thankful that I took it because I learned what I did not want to do in my professional career.

My second internship was as a construction inspection intern. I spent the majority of my time out in the field as opposed to being behind a desk all day. I really enjoyed this internship. It made me want to pursue a career in the construction industry after I graduate.

The experiences I had at these two internships have really guided me in my career search. I know what I do (and do not) enjoy, which makes it much easier to apply for jobs. Had it not been for these internships, I probably would’ve taken the first job I had been offered. Now I know that the job I apply for will be a job that I actually want to do.

Alumni Q+A: Ryan Fowler

Ryan William Fowler
Mechanical Facility Engineer and Energy Coordinator, Orbital ATK Lake City AAP
Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2012
Current City: Blue Springs, MO Hometown: Blue Springs, MO

 
Tell us about your job.
At my job I get involved with managing the plants integrated building management control system, HVAC systems, boiler/steam systems, and all aspects of energy management. I often have construction projects I am responsible for deterring technical requirements and in some cases supervise field work.

One project I particularly enjoyed was the design and implementation of a reverse osmosis treatment system at the Lake City Boiler Plant. I am part of the plant’s master planning process which determines the needs and requirements which will keep the facility in working order for many years to come.

I worked at my company throughout college and interned in facilities engineering. They kept me on once I graduated. I fit very well in this type of engineering and would recommend it to anyone.

How do you balance your work life with your personal life?
I work when I am scheduled to work and I’m home when I’m scheduled to be home. Keeping the two separate and staying focused on what’s important at the time allows me to manage my time well and keep a healthy balance between the two.
Sure there are overlaps every now and then, but they are few and far between. Family comes first, and if you’re working somewhere that doesn’t respect that then it might be time to seek other opportunities.

What advice do you have for students entering the field?
One step at a time. Listen to the experienced engineers in your group and ask a ton of questions, they will be your greatest ally in conquering this new and exciting world. You will make mistakes and you will learn from them. It’s all part of becoming a good engineer. Hang in there; this is where all the fun happens!

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Max Schoettger

Transferring to UMKC

Name: Max Schoettger
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
Major: Information Technology, Business
Year: Senior
Favorite class: IT 222 – Multimedia Design
Favorite place to study: Miller Nichols Library, 2nd floor
Why you chose UMKC: Kansas City is my home city, plus UMKC was close and there are job opportunities with tech companies.

My college journey started at a different four-year university. In the two years I was there, I made a lot of mistakes, both personally and academically, at a place I didn’t feel welcome at. Transferring universities and changing degrees in the middle of my undergraduate experience was a tough decision, but one that I felt I needed to take for my own personal benefit. As I returned home to the Kansas City area, I was also interested in changing my area of study from engineering to information technology. UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering ended up being the perfect fit for me during a very challenging period of time. The school offered a bachelor’s program in information technology that I was able to get into right away. UMKC advisors worked with me to match existing engineering credits to degree requirements in the IT program to make the most of the hours I had already earned.
 
During my first semester at UMKC, the computer science classes I took caught my interest in a way no other subject had before. Learning all about computers, what they can do, and how they make the world work was something I truly became passionate about. UMKC’s relationships with some of the top tech companies in Kansas City will ensure that the skills that I acquire in the classroom can turn into a great internship or entry-level job to start my career. Aside from the academic pros of changing degrees and universities, the change in campus environment has been my favorite part about transferring to UMKC. Right in the middle of the city I have lived in my whole life is a diverse university with many different opportunities full of interesting people from all walks of life. It’s a place where I feel like I belong. 

Enhancing Infrastructure For Cuba

Team UMKC, composed of graduate students Andy Roberts, AJ Ramsey, and Ryan Holmes, are finalists in the 2017 Cuban Infrastructure Scholarship Competition! The Cuba Infrastructure Challenge is a student design competition organized and sponsored by the Association of Cuban-American Engineers (ACAE) and the Cuban-American Association of Civil Engineers (C-AACE). It entails that university student teams formulate and present a project of their choice on Cuba’s public infrastructure that relates to the engineering field in transportation, water resources, power/ telecommunications or healthcare. This competition aims to improve the quality of life for Cubans and establish meaningful relationships between Cuban-Americans and students. The ACAE has organized this competition for engineering students from around the United States to propose, investigate, and engineer solutions that enhance infrastructure in Cuba.
 
Team UMKC was accepted on February 13, 2017 as a top 6 team in the nation to present and discuss their proposal entitled: Feasibility Study of Baracoa, Cuba as “Sponge City.” The competition is to be held at the University of Miami in Miami, FL on March 4 (TODAY!) between 8:00AM to 2:00PM and will be live streamed on Youtube.com. A potential $12,000 in award money is available for top-ranked presentations in addition to national esteem.
 
This will provide an excellent opportunity for the participating graduate students to meet and develop relationships with civil engineering professionals across the world. Because of the high visibility of the live stream and importance of Cuban relations, this competition will also advance UMKC’s prominence as an international research institution and cultivator of globally influential leaders.
 
Tune in to the live stream on Saturday, March 4, 2017 at 7:00am.
(Update):

Team UMKC composed of Ryan Holmes, AJ Ramsey, and Andrew Roberts returned home on March 5th from Miami as third place winners in a national competition for the Cuba Infrastructure Scholarship Competition.

A total of $12,000 in scholarships was up for grabs through this support of The Cuban-American Association of Civil Engineers and The Association of Cuban-American Engineers. The event was hosted by the University of Miami at the beautiful Casa Bacardi. The intent of the scholarship and the goal of the organization is to promote infrastructure and technology that could benefit a future free-enterprise Cuba. Team UMKC submitted a rigorously judged proposal entitled “Feasibility Study of Baracoa, Cuba As a Sponge City” and was one of 6 teams across the nation invited to present. Each team had 15 minutes to describe their proposals to the 5 esteemed judges, each with over 40 years of experience in their respective fields. This was followed by 10 minutes of question and answer to evaluate some of the more detailed and technical aspects of the proposal.

It is the hope of Team UMKC that participation in this competition results in sown seeds towards international cooperation especially with the Hispanic community. As a team, they also desire to set a precedence and a challenge to other engineering students for similar competitions to demonstrate how Roos engage as national and international members of society.

Team UMKC would like to thank the School of Graduate Studies and the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering for their generous support in providing the travel funds necessary to attend this competition. A special thanks to Dean Truman for originally circulating this opportunity.

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Mazen Mansour

Egypt to UMKC

Name: Mazen Mansour
Hometown: Alexandria, Egypt
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Year: Senior
Clubs: Pi Tau Sigma, Research Assistant, Thermodynamics T.A., Math Tutor
Favorite class: Thermodynamics
Favorite place to study: Miller Nichols Library, 4th floor
Why you chose UMKC: I love Kansas City and UMKC’s class sizes. There are also lots of industry partners in Kansas City.

In the summer of 2012 I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. I left my home country Egypt, and started applying to colleges in the United States. Although I am a dual citizen, I had never lived in the U.S before. In the fall of 2013, I started as an Aerospace Engineering student at Wichita State University. My first couple of weeks here in the U.S by myself were very tough. I had to adapt to a new language, a new culture, and a new lifestyle, but I knew I came to U.S to succeed and success doesn’t come easy. I visited Kansas City during Thanksgiving break and instantly fell in love with the city. I transferred to UMKC after my freshman year and I am so thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had here.

When I moved to KC, my English wasn’t as good as it is today. I had difficulties understanding people at first. The first job I had in Kansas City was working at a McDonald’s. While I was only earning minimum wage, it was probably one of the most valuable experiences I’ve ever had. I was speaking to around 500 customers every day which helped me improve my English skills. Through my sophomore, junior and currently my senior year, there is one very important thing that I’ve learned; “The impossible is possible unless you say no.”

Since coming to UMKC, I’ve had the opportunity to work in various positions on campus. I’ve worked as a math tutor, campus host, teacher assistant, research assistant, and SCE student ambassador. This might sound normal for some people, but for me as an 18 year old kid coming from Egypt, to live in a totally new country was a big deal. And getting my first ever name tag or having my name on a syllabus of a class with my own “office hours” was an even bigger deal! My proudest moment was when I saw my name on a 4 by 3 feet poster for my research that I was working on this past summer. Besides working on campus, I was also blessed to get an internship at PAS Technologies, a manufacturing plant for small aeroplane parts.

I think to succeed in college and life in general, one needs to be optimistic. I wake up every day at 5:30 a.m. and say “Good morning, Mazen! Let’s go out and get it before the day gets you.”

Alumni Q+A: Riddhiman Das

Riddhiman Das
Product Architect, EyeVerify, Inc.
Bachelors of Science in Computer Science, Class of 2012
Current City: Kansas City, MO  Hometown: Guwahati, India
Twitter Handle: @rdasxy

What drew you to Computer Science?
I was lucky that I figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was still young. When I was 7 years old, my family got our first computer; I was so fascinated by it that I decided that I was going to become a computer scientist when I grew up.

I was exposed to computing concepts early– my parents would get me undergraduate level programming books while I was still in elementary school. They tried to get me the best resources possible to help me learn as much as possible.

I knew in my early teens that computing was going to bring about tremendous change in our lives, and that I wanted to play a part in the “Information Revolution” that was going to have an immense impact into the 21st century human civilization.

How do you keep up with the rapidly changing field of technology?
I often joke that Hacker News (https://news.ycombinator.com) flows through my veins. I am plugged into several online communities through social networking sites, as well as regularly reading numerous technical journals, blogs, websites, etc.

I have also started taking several MOOCs (massive open online course) lately through Udacity and Coursera, which has really helped me pick up newer technologies.

How did UMKC prepare you for your career?
The School of Computing and Engineering has a very thorough Computer Science program. The content I learned as an undergraduate was comparable, or sometimes even better than top Computer Science schools around the world. What was even better about the school was that because it is smaller, I had easy access to all my teachers and faculty. They all knew me personally and made several opportunities available to me that would not have happened at a bigger school.

I was part of several research projects that really helped me refine my skills as a computer scientist. It was also fun because I got to present my research at several conferences, where I met folks from universities around the world. When I graduated with my undergraduate degree, the research I was involved with was nearing commercialization so it ended up being my full time job.

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Kacey Henik

The Stem Career Fair

Name: Kacey Henik
Hometown: Independence, MO
Major: Electrical Computer Engineering (ECE)
Year: Senior
Clubs: SWE, Alpha Sigma Alpha, Mortar Board
Favorite class: Embedded Systems
Favorite place to study: Computer labs or my apartment
Why you chose UMKC: I wanted to major in ECE, which is a program offered at very few universities.

 

My name is Kacey Henik, and I am a senior in the Electrical Computer Engineering (ECE) degree program. ECE is unique because not very many colleges offer the combined electrical and computer engineering focuses in a single program. . This provides more career options for after graduation, even though most engineering degrees are fairly versatile in their career applications.

One of the events that UMKC holds every semester is the STEM Career Fair. My sophomore year, I went to the career fair in the spring where I secured an internship with Kansas City Power and Light. This internship was a great entry point for me and let me see what it was like to work at a utility. I loved how the company revolved around the customers and the way that we could best serve them through providing reliable and efficient power. However, I was still was not 100% sure what I wanted to do after graduation.

My junior year of school, I went to the fall career fair, after which I was offered an internship with Burns & McDonnell, a large engineering consulting firm headquartered in Kansas City. My first summer had shown me the utility side of things and this past summer showed me something new – consulting. On the consulting side, the project scope varies greatly, as we serve clients all over the country, and in some cases, across the world.. I really enjoyed the environment of the company and the variety in projects I was able to work on.

Seeing both the utility side and the consulting side proved to be great experiences for me and helped me to make a more informed decision on where I wanted to work for my career. I recently accepted an offer with Burns & McDonnell to work full-time after graduation (nine months before I graduate!), and I am thankful to be able to continue working there part-time while I am still in school! I attribute much of my success to the School of Computing and Engineering and the dedication they show us students. I am thankful to be at a university that is located in a place where I even get to start on my career a little earlier!

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Katrina Flynn

Internship to Future Career

By: Katrina Flynn
Hometown: Papillion, NE
Major: Information Technology
Year: Senior
Clubs: Student Government Board for Dining Sevices, UMKC Grievance Committee, Student Staff at UMKC Welcome Center
Favorite class: IT 350 – Object Oriented Programming
Favorite place to study: Miller Nichols Library
Why you chose UMKC: I wanted to move to a bigger city.

 

One of the biggest reasons that I decided to move from a small town in Nebraska to Kansas City was because I knew that I would have more job opportunities in a larger city—and UMKC has not let me down.

I am incredibly thankful for the amount of internship opportunities that have been presented to me by SCE. I received my first internship at the beginning of my sophomore year, and I was truly blessed. I worked as an analyst intern in the IT department at ConAgra Foods World Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska during the summer before my junior year. This was a great experience and I learned a lot about what I liked and didn’t like, in preparation for my long-term career aspirations.

During my junior year, I received another internship with a company in Kansas City called Protiviti, an internal audit and technology consulting firm. I was curious to take my degree to another level and see what different paths I could take with my major. I even got to travel with this internship! Training took place in Orlando, Florida for the first couple of weeks, and I was able to go to Disney World for the first time. Overall, this was exactly what I was looking for with my major. It was a great work environment with awesome people in the city that I love. Needless to say, I was happy to receive a full-time offer after I graduate—which I humbly accepted.

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Chelsea Pfaffly

The Importance of Undergraduate Research 
By: Chelsea Pfaffly

Hometown: Pleasant Valley, MO
Major: Civil Engineering
Year: Junior
Clubs: SWE, Undergrad Research
Favorite class: Strength of Materials
Favorite place to study: Study rooms by the CME faculty offices
Why you chose UMKC: The opportunities and small class sizes
 
Participating in undergraduate research has always been on my bucket list. It is one of the most influential experiences that a college student can have. This summer I applied for the Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity (SUROP) grant. Even though I was only a sophomore in the engineering program and I still had much to learn, I knew I could apply the knowledge I had to real life applications.
 
When it came to choosing what topic I wanted to focus my research on Dr. Hart, a civil engineering professor, helped guide me. She told me about her research on environmental concrete and I was super intrigued! The research I did focused on trying to collect the heavy metals from pervious concrete. I was excited about this experiment because if I could prove that the metals could be extracted, pervious concrete could be used as an economical solution to clean up mining spills. Because of this experience, I was able to spend my summer in a lab expanding my knowledge outside of the classroom and diving deeper into my interest in geotechnical engineering.
 
The biggest benefit for me was learning to think on my feet. Since I was conducting my own research, I was in charge of coming up with the procedure for the experiment. Quick thinking and innovation are not skills that can be learned in the classroom. They are developed through hands-on experience. During my research, when things didn’t go as I had planned, I had to resolve the issue on my own and be creative.
 
I am so glad I was able to have this opportunity. When someone asks me what my most meaningful college experience was, I proudly say, “My summer of undergraduate research!”

Ambassador Highlight of the Week: Kyle Rainey

Value of Internships

By Kyle Rainey
Hometown: Columbia, MO
Major: Information Technology
Year: Senior
Favorite class: IT 222 – Multimedia Design
Favorite place to study: My apartment or the UMKC Library
Why you chose UMKC: Smaller class sizes

During the fall break of my sophomore year, I applied for an internship at Cerner, a healthcare information technology solutions company located in Kansas City.  I was hired for the Kansas City Information Technology (KCIT) Apprenticeship Program before the start of the summer of 2015.  This program is designed differently when compared to a normal internship.  The KCIT program allowed me to work twenty hours a week during the school year and  forty hours a week during the summer.  My internship has allowed me the opportunity to put the knowledge I gained as a UMKC student in information technology to work – literally!  Although, Cerner has also given me the opportunity to learn on the job.  They allowed me to work on real projects and sit in on many meetings, further developing my skills as a professional in the field. Being a UMKC student has allowed me to have this experience and since many big companies come to UMKC looking for students to become interns, the connection was made easy.

After I graduate this fall, I plan to continue working for Cerner on my current team! Being in the KCIT program gives you the ability to continue with what you are doing after you graduate, if you were successful and choose to do so.  Working at Cerner has taught me a lot in the last year and I continue to learn more every day. UMKC has prepared me to work full time right after graduation and I look forward to starting my career with Cerner as soon as that degree is in hand.