Published: Dec. 4, 2023 By

Major: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Post-graduation plans: Engineering data scientist at Monolith, a green-tech startup, focusing on plasma pyrolysis and turquoise hydrogen production

Ashish Srivastava recently received the following two awards from the CU Boulder's College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Academic Engagement Award
This award recognizes undergraduate students engaged with academics to an extent that elevates their own and/or others’ learning experiences.

Outstanding Undergraduate of the College
This overall award recognizes one undergraduate student who has maximized their educational experience in a holistic way, with accomplishment across several of the individual thematic award areas.

Ashish Srivastava with professors Sprenger and Davis
Ashish Srivastava (center) with Assistant Professor Kayla Sprenger (right) and Professor Rob Davis (left) after Srivastava delivered a guest lecture for CHEN 3210 – Heat and Mass Transfer.

Ashish Srivastava with a friend
Ashish Srivastava sits in a colorful art installation at Meow Wolf in Denver.

What is your favorite memory from your time at CU Boulder?
In spring 2020, I served as a course assistant for the CHEN fluid mechanics course under Professor Dan Schwartz.  During that time, he offered me an opportunity to contribute more to the exam review process. I dug up my old exam review notes and whipped up four Zoom lectures, one for each exam. Initially it was just a fun little activity to create a Khan Academy-style video, but after the exam was over I received emails from three students expressing how much the videos genuinely helped them while studying. That was a peak of my undergraduate career. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of, either academically or personally?
Academically, I'm incredibly proud of the opportunity to deliver a full lecture alongside Professor Sprenger for the CHEN 3210 – Heat and Mass Transfer class she taught with Professor Davis. It was a significant highlight of my undergraduate journey, and I even framed the lecture notes as a memento.

On a personal note, I take immense pride in the remarkable individuals I've had the privilege of meeting during my time at CU, as well as the wonderful friends who have become an integral part of my life. Their exceptional dedication, achievements and unwavering kindness continually inspire me to aim higher in my own pursuits.

Tell us about a moment (or moments) when you felt like you hit your stride or felt like you were “officially” an engineer.
The moment I truly felt like I was a real engineer was during my internship at Monolith. I was assigned to create a model for a part of our process where it was uncertain if modeling was even feasible. By the end of the internship, I was able to create a model that was robust and accurate enough that they put it directly into production before my last day. 

What was the biggest challenge for you during your engineering education? What did you learn from it?
The most significant challenge I encountered during my engineering education was navigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. While studying synchronously from abroad in Romania, I had to adjust to a nocturnal schedule and couldn't spend time with my family. My daily routine revolved around alternating between my desk and my bed. Fortunately, the strong sense of community I shared with fellow students in the Global Engineering RAP (Residential Academic Program) and chem/bio engineering programs were a lifeline. We created playlists, stayed connected through group chats and studied together over Zoom, which helped us maintain our sanity. COVID-19 was a tough ordeal for everyone, but it taught me the immense value of having a supportive network to lean on during challenging times.

What is your advice for incoming engineering students?
Make sure to maintain your interests and hobbies outside of engineering! The program is a marathon, not a sprint, so take care not to burn out — you’re in it for the long haul. Pay attention to your sleep, it’s extremely easy to spiral into poor sleeping habits. And finally, make sure you continue to read and write, as strong communication skills will take you much further than you might think.

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