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Alumnus Story: Matthew Poling, BSASE ’08

Current City: Chicago

What did you do in the year immediately after graduating?
I accepted an offer with Bliss & Nyitray, a local structural engineering firm, and I soaked up as much experience as I could. The recession struck later that same year, and I was very fortunate to keep my position and continue to learn from a group of seasoned engineers.

What do you do for a living now? What does a typical work week look like for you?
I am an associate with Baldridge & Associates (BASE), a structural engineering firm headquartered in Honolulu, with offices in Guam, Chicago and India. I work out of the Chicago office, and our goal is to build our portfolio of work in the Chicago area while providing project support for other offices. We have seen over 300% employee growth in the last five years, and we have had the opportunity to perform the structural design for some notable buildings from Hawaii to India, including the winner of this year’s PTI’s Project of the Year, which is a Ritz-Carlton Residence located in Honolulu. My day-to-day work includes client interaction, project management and design.

In what ways did your CoE experience have an impact on your career and who you are today?
I gained a lot of confidence in solving complex problems and looking for creative solutions. I learned the power of good, clear presentation. I had the opportunity through my degree to take architectural history and studio classes, which helped to prepare me for my career ahead.

Describe your most memorable moment as a student at the College of Engineering (CoE).
I have many fond memories, but I’ll share two. The first is the moment that I knew I could make it. It was freshman year, and I had struggled on the first two physics tests. I spent practically every moment of my free time studying for the third test, and I aced it. I knew it would take a lot of hard work, but I finally felt like I belonged. The second memory is the day of the senior design presentation. Our team had spent months preparing, and once the presentation was over, we felt enormous relief. I remember looking around at my fellow classmates and seeing the last four years flash before my eyes.

What motivated you to support the College of Engineering?
I feel connected to the College. I had many great experiences there that helped shape my career. I benefitted from a scholarship that made it possible for me to attend the University, so I try to give back to help others like me.

What advice would you give to younger alumni or current students who aspire to follow a similar career path?
Become as well-rounded as you can with design courses. Two, it’s important to obtain a master’s degree, though still not absolutely required. Three, remember that one of your greatest tools is pencil and paper. Don’t be afraid to sketch.

How would you describe the College of Engineering in seven words or less?
A guiding experience, preparing you for life.

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