Hello everyone! As someone who is new to the field of Civil Engineering, I am very excited to share about my recent experiences and what prompted me to make the sudden switch! For starters, I am making the change from Bioengineering to Civil Engineering for which many have told me is not a common thing. Before coming to Lehigh, I knew I wanted to major in Bioengineering partly because it was a relatively new field compared to other engineering fields but also because it combined two things I found interesting: Biology and engineering. It’s been a fun ride learning about a lot of new projects professors are carrying out at Lehigh within Bioengineering but going back home to Los Angeles, my hometown, definitely gave me a change of heart.
The state of California is currently in a drought; from reducing the use of water and implementing new regulations for water usage, California has been working hard to help ease the effects the drought has had in the state. This past winter however, much of Southern California was expected to receive massive amounts of rainfall as a result of El Niño. As exciting as it was to hear that Los Angeles would be getting some rainfall, it was also frightening to see the after-effects it would have in the city as some parts are prone to mudslides and flooding. While watching the news one day during the storm, a footage of an interstate freeway that was completely flooded and vehicles and school buses trying to make their way towards the freeway caught my eye. As a high school student who had to commute a close-to-20-mile radius to get to and from school, the school bus was a daily method of transportation for me. It was scary to see the bus in that situation and it filled me with wonder why a lot of the rainfall SoCal was receiving was not being conserved and led to reservoirs properly but was rather spilling onto streets and interstate freeways and causing mudslides and flooding and people to be stranded in the floods.
Although this was disturbing to watch, one thing that proved to be positive was the LA River. I used to joke around about the LA River being more of an LA Stream just because of the lack of water the river had flowing through it, but this winter, the water reached almost a third of the wall’s height.
There were other things I witnessed firsthand this summer that prompted me to want to help Los Angeles better their water systems and structures (ie dams and reservoirs) and they all led me to make the change to Civil Engineering. As a Civil Engineer, I would be able to help design and maintain the structures that the city was using to help better conserve the water and produce clean drinking water for the citizens. Thus, once I returned to Lehigh, I joined Engineers Without Borders after learning that one of their ongoing projects was to build a water distribution system in Cebadilla, Nicaragua. I had witnessed firsthand the effects the lack of proper and efficient water resources can have on a community, and by being a part of the organization’s project, I figured it would be a great way to start to learn how to give back to a community via engineering methods. I am really excited about this change and I am excited to learn and gain all the skills necessary to help countries and cities such as Cebadilla and Los Angeles obtain better water systems. I’m definitely anxious to find out what’s in store for me here at Lehigh!