Why did you choose engineering at CU Boulder?
I chose CU Boulder because I instantly fell in love with the place during my first tour of the campus. I actually went into engineering on a rather spontaneous decision. I have a passion for learning, especially learning how the world works. I wanted to learn something new, and I wanted a different experience from high school. I also wanted a major that I could use to help people.
What does #ILookLikeAnEngineer mean to you?
As someone who is a first-generation Mexican-American, the #iLookLikeAnEngineer hashtag means a lot to me. In the past, I have experienced discrimination from friends' parents, teachers, etc., because of my appearance or my family's appearance. Because of these experiences, it's always been a goal of mine to break these stereotypes and represent my minority groups. I believe that diversity plays an important role in the workforce, because diversity fuels change and innovation. Through this campaign, I think stereotypes can be broken and our society can better comprehend that diversity can exist in the STEM fields. While still vastly underrepresented, numbers are changing with the help of programs like this one and through the hard work of many diverse people.
What are your career goals?
As of now, I still have no idea what I want to do as a career. I don't want to fixate on one path, as I don't believe that allows me to consider the infinite opportunities that engineering provides. My main desire is that my career will revolve around helping others. I find that I'm happiest when I know I've left a positive impact on others.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?
My favorite spiritual quote, which is actually a prayer is: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
This is a prayer that means a lot to my family because it encompasses a lot of the struggle and recovery that we have gone through as a family.
What do you enjoy most about engineering?
I've found a passion for engineering because it teaches us the ways of the physical world. Having now taken classes like Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics, I've learned how things like car engines and airplanes work. It still blows my mind to think about how so many intellectuals have been able to develop such ideas that eventually came to reality. The thing I enjoy most about engineering is that it's a platform for ideas to become a physical reality. It's a field for problem-solving and thinking of ways that we can make our lives easier.
What is your favorite engineering experience?
I think my favorite engineering experience has been becoming a tutor this year. One of my particular favorite tutoring experiences was about a week after the third Calculus II midterm. Two students who regularly show up to my tutoring hours came to me for help and I had asked how they did on their exams. They both told me that they beat the average by more than 20 points, and it just made me so excited to hear that. While I know it was their own hard work that paid off for them, it was extremely gratifying to know that I played some part in helping them achieve their goal.
What are you up to these days?
Currently, I'm working as a research intern up in Fort Collins at CSU at the atmospheric sciences Research Experience for Undergrads (REU) site. This is my first internship, and it's been a pretty great experience!
Do you have a personal story, experience, or advice to help freshmen realize that struggling is a normal and commonplace part of being a college student and an engineering major?
The transition into college is definitely an adjustment for everyone. Personally, I felt very excited and ready to jump into it because I had the chance to attend two summer programs where I was able to begin learning my way around, meet people that were going into my major and just learn more about what to expect as I got a lot of advice from upperclassmen. I would definitely recommend to any prospective seniors to look into summer programs. One of the programs I attended, ASPIRE, helped introduce me to about 43 other incoming engineering students – many of which I still am in contact with.
Gabe Rodriguez, class of 2019, Mechanical Engineering