Published: April 21, 2020

With over 40,000 graduates in all 50 states and 97 countries, the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder is committed to building a strong network of engineering Buffs across the globe. The college's alumni office is focused on developing regional alumni networks in key areas where our larger alumni populations exist; the Front Range, San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California, Houston and Seattle. We currently have 30 alumni across these target areas that have volunteered to serve as Regional Network Ambassadors. Ambassadors are ready to help fellow alumni and students develop meaningful connections with one another in their local area. Additionally, ambassadors provide feedback and ideas to the CU Engineering alumni engagement staff for local engagement activities. 

To learn more about some of our ambassadors, we sat down with Maithreyi Gopalakrishnan (Bay Area) and Andrew Safulko (Front Range) to hear why they wanted to get involved.

Maithreyi Gopalakrishnan (EngrPhys'16, MPhys'16)

What are your fondest memories of CU Engineering?
I have so many wonderful memories from CU Engineering. As an engineering physics major, I spent most of my time in Duane. I remember countless days and nights of working through problem sets with my physics study group and fueling our study sessions with D.P. Dough calzones. I had a tremendous experience working in the Kapteyn-Murnane lab at JILA and learning about lasers and materials science from the graduate students and postdocs I worked with. I got involved in the Energy Club at the start of freshman year and served on the leadership from my junior year onward. A majority of the leadership team was composed of CU Engineering students, and I had a great time working with them to coordinate networking events, lunch and learns about various energy topics, monthly meetings with incredible guest speakers, and our annual conference, Energy Frontiers. 

My most pivotal experience was founding and running a startup company, Surya Conversions, with fellow CU engineers from the mechanical, electrical, and civil engineering departments (and a couple folks from Leeds School of Business). The breadth of knowledge we had from our studies across these departments allowed us to make true progress on developing a hybrid conversion kit for auto rickshaws in India. Working with my teammates on everything from soldering parts together for the kit to delivering fundraising pitches was one of the best learning experiences I've had in my life. Without CU Engineering, I'm fairly certain I wouldn't have had these particularly enriching and formative experiences that taught me so much and helped me meet so many amazing fellow Engineering Buffs!

Why did you choose to become a regional network ambassador?
Shortly after graduating from CU, I moved to Portland, Oregon, to start a job at Intel. I was a bit apprehensive, as this was the first time I'd be moving out of state and entering an environment where I really didn't know anyone. I knew I wanted to meet fellow Buffs to help me feel at home in a new state, so I reached out to the CU alumni network there. I was welcomed into the alumni community immediately and had many memorable times with the "PDX Buffs," including football watch parties, community service events, happy hours, and a rained-out but super fun camping trip! When I moved to the Bay Area, I sought to not only find a similar community for myself but to help other alumni find this community. Having had such a great experience in CU Engineering, I thought being an RNA would be a perfect opportunity to get plugged into the Bay Area alumni community and help others do the same.

Have you been able to connect with or assist fellow alumni in any specific way through your role?
I had a wonderful time connecting with decades of CU Engineering alumni at the CU Boulder NEXT event in San Francisco. I came in not really knowing anyone and managed to connect with so many people and learn about the great variety of career paths people took after graduation. It was really fun to be among such a diverse group of people who all, in some way, shared my experiences at CU. 

What would say to encourage engineering alumni who are considering whether to volunteer with their alma mater?
I cannot recommend it enough! It allows you to continue engaging in the incredible Buffs community, which can become harder to do once you've joined the workforce and perhaps moved or lost touch with some of your friends at CU. It's also a great opportunity to meet other Buffs that you've shared common experiences with and to learn more about how the engineering school has evolved and grown since you left (so much has changed even since I graduated four years ago!). If you feel CU Engineering shaped your life in a significant way, as it did mine, getting involved in the alumni community and keeping your fellow alumni engaged is a great way to give back to a program that gave us so much.

Andrew Sufalko (EnvEngr'12)

Why did you decide to pursue a degree in environmental engineering from CU?
The first time I crested that last hill headed west on Highway 36, I knew I was somewhere unique. CU and the surroundings captured my imagination. Like many young people, I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to accomplish in college, but I was certain I would find the opportunity at CU. Having developed a passion for the natural environment, both as a place for recreation and as an academic pursuit, environmental engineering seemed like a natural fit. When it came to telling my parents that I wanted to move 2,000 miles from home, it didn't hurt that CU had a premier environmental engineering program.  

Why did you choose to become a regional network ambassador?
I believe there is tremendous potential in the CU Engineering Alumni Network. I was eager to get involved and help build a functioning resource for existing and future alumni. Moreover, I connect with the community-building aspect of the position. It's great to see friends and colleagues reconnecting at the alumni events and learning all of the great things CU Engineering alums are doing to shape our world. 

Have you been able to connect with or assist fellow alumni in any specific way through your role?
Connecting people is in my DNA. I enjoy working with future and recent alumni to assess their career interests and help them identify opportunities. Through connections I have (re)established as an alumni ambassador, I have enjoyed participating in panels and guest lecture opportunities at CU, sharing my professional experiences and offering advice to future environmental engineers. It is fulfilling to "pay forward" all of the guidance that I received as a young professional, and I hope to have a similar impact on establishing personal and professional success for others. 

What makes you want to keep coming back for CU Engineering and environmental engineering career fairs?
Based on my personal experience at CU and the students and recent graduates I have had the opportunity to interact with, I believe that CU produces highly qualified young engineers, engineers who are uniquely suited to meet the challenges of a dynamic workplace through well-rounded communication skills in addition to strong technical engineering fundamentals.   

What would say to encourage engineering alumni who are considering whether to volunteer with their alma mater?
Do you need another reason to visit the Dark Horse?! Seriously though, it's a great opportunity to contribute to the culture and educational tradition at CU. Don't miss an opportunity to enjoy the energy and charisma of the university, without the test anxiety!'

Check out the Network Ambassador Directory and feel free to reach out to anyone who you would like to become part of your network. 

Want to get involved as an alumni volunteer? Fill out our volunteer interest form and a member of the alumni engagement team will be in touch with you to discuss your interest further. You can also learn more about our Regional Network Ambassador program online.