Meet Ian Walczak

“Civil engineers built the world. What I do on a day-to-day basis could affect thousands of people and makes you responsible for people’s lives.”

Ian is a Rutgers School of Engineering senior from Toms River, New Jersey enrolled in the five-year dual BS/MS degree program. Here, the structural engineering student shares thoughts on his Rutgers experience and his plans for the future.
What drew you to civil engineering?
I took drafting classes in high school and vocational school and applied for a civil engineering job. I’ve drafted part-time for four-and-a-half years since high school for East Coast Engineering, Inc. in Toms River.
Civil engineers built the world. What I do on a day-to-day basis could affect thousands of people and makes you responsible for people’s lives.
Why did you choose Rutgers School of Engineering?
I chose to transfer to Rutgers as a junior from Ocean County College because of its many available research opportunities. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Steel Bridge Team also drew me in – I wanted to be a part of that. Since Rutgers is one of the top public schools in the nation, I also knew I’d get the most bang for my buck.
What do you enjoy most about structural engineering?
I love it when I see a design I worked hard on come to life. Seeing what you envisioned in your head come alive step-by-step – from beginning planning stages to final as-built drawings – is so rewarding.
What should first year students know about civil engineering?
I would advise them to stick it out. It can be hard, but once they get through the first two years, it’s worth it because they can concentrate on what interests them most.
Who is your favorite professor and why?
Structural engineering professor Husam Najm, who also directs the CEE undergraduate program is a favorite due to his dedication to students. He always answers emails in ten minutes no matter what time of day. He really cares about students and is passionate about the discipline. I was honored to accept the ASCE Central Jersey Teacher of the Year award for him when he was unable to attend the ceremony.
What is the department’s greatest strength?
The passion all the professors have for students. They really care about you and want you to learn and succeed.
Rutgers also has a really good alumni presence in the industry. Everywhere I’ve interviewed has had at least one Rutgers alum– it’s pretty crazy.
What research projects have you been involved with?
I’ve been involved on a BEAST – Bridge Evaluation and Structural Testing lab – research project with Professor Franklin Moon to learn what coating can best defend steel girders on bridges against corrosion.
I’m just starting on a fatigue cracks analysis of temporary bridge structures project with Professor Sougata Roy. I’m always excited to learn new things.
Have you had any internships?
Last summer, I got a lot of design experience working at Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. (GPI), which had been tasked with building a retention wall system around bridge abutments on the Gowanus Canal superfund site.
Do you have a senior project?
I’m working with Dr. Moon to analyze and come up with a repair design that could reopen an unsafe pedestrian suspension bridge in Byram Township.
What about extracurricular activities?
I’m the captain of the competitive ASCE Steel Bridge Team and president of the Rutgers chapter of the North American Society of Trenchless Technology (NASTT). I’m a member of the Chi Epsilon civil engineering and Tau Beta Pi engineering honor societies. I volunteer for Tau Beta Pi events like Mindset, which teaches middle school kids about engineering and gets them excited about careers in STEM.
What do you hope to do after you graduate?
I have three solid job offers and am in the process of making a big decision. I’ll also be finishing my MS degree at night.
What do you most value about your Rutgers education?
The research I’ve been able to do while here, the connections I’ve made with professors and industry professionals, my involvement in ASCE and NASTT – and all I’ve learned. I’m well prepared to go work in structural engineering.
How do you hope to give back to future SoE students?
I want to be involved with the ASCE Central Jersey branch and if possible serve on the School’s industry advisory board. The Rutgers pedigree is strong: I’d like to be in a position to give jobs to other graduates.
What do you do for fun?
I grew up on the beach. I was a lifeguard at Seaside Park. I’m an avid surfer and like to spend summer weekends on the beach. In winter, I like to snowboard. And, I like to hang out with friends and de-stress.