Ahmed Ashmaig (MechEngr'23), the president of CU Boulder's chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), has received the university's Ripple Award. The award is given by the CU Boulder's Center for Inclusion and Social Change in collaboration with the Dennis Small Cultural Center.
The recipient of this award is someone who seeks to enhance cross-cultural awareness and a greater appreciation for diversity. This individual has gone above and beyond in advocating for and facilitating cultural programming.
This person has had an impact far beyond the original source.
What is your major?
Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Engineering Management.
How did it feel to receive the Ripple award?
I was very honored to receive the award. I knew that I had been nominated, but didn't know that I'd won. All year, I was focused on ensuring the success of my NSBE community. Receiving the award reminded me to reflect on my immense efforts this year, and to celebrate myself for once. I've put a lot of work into NSBE programming this year while also balancing my most challenging semester yet, and I'm glad to know that my efforts were recognized and appreciated.
What are some benefits of culturally-focused programming?
Culturally-focused programming has many benefits, but boosting my confidence as a minority in engineering is one of personal impact to me and one that I feel is extremely important. Especially at a predominantly white institution (PWI), I think it's important to be surrounded by programming, as well as people who look like you and who motivate you to succeed professionally and academically. I attribute a lot of my success to the networking and mentorship opportunities I've gained through NSBE programming.
What are some of your goals when you create culturally-focused programming?
My first goal is to ensure that as many people as possible can benefit from meaningful programming. There's a wealth of social, academic, cultural, and professional opportunities available through these programs and I'd like to make sure that everyone is taking advantage of them. I also aim for everyone to feel comfortable and excited. New members should feel welcomed and find it easy to make new friends.
What support have you felt through your communities? What has this support looked like?
I've felt most supported sharing my successes with my community. The genuine "congrats" are a reminder from my community that they are rooting for my success just as much as I am striving for my own success. By supporting each other through these simple interactions, we can uplift each other and motivate each other to succeed.
What made you want to become an engineer?
I chose engineering for the impact I can make on society. Engineers are constantly improving our quality and ease of life. I wanted to be a part of these contributions, especially when it came to the field of automotive and aviation. I've always been fascinated by planes, but I am also a car guy. With an ME degree, I have the flexibility to work in either of these fields, and many others as well.
What advice would you have for an incoming engineering student who asks you for it?
I would recommend finding upper class students who can serve as both friends and mentors. College can be difficult to navigate and having a friend to make recommendations about professors, classes, and give you general advice can go a long way. There were some classes I took freshman year which fulfilled multiple degree requirements which I never would have known about if it weren't for my upperclass friends. Their advice ultimately saved me a lot of time, money, and stress.
What drives you day-to-day?
I'm driven to complete a prestigious degree that will significantly improve my family and I's lifestyle. I'm extremely grateful to have this educational opportunity which my parents couldn't have. I'm most excited for graduation; the pinnacle of my parents' hard work as immigrants. As a first generation student, it will be their graduation day as well.
What are some of your goals for the future?
My goal is to travel more often, and meet more people along the way. College is a great time to make friends, but it was when I finally left Colorado (aka what I call "the box" for its square geometry) for internships that I realized just how many amazing people and beautiful sights are out there for me to explore.