Student Ambassador Profile – Ben Halee, BSEnE ’20
Name: Ben Halee
Hometown: Boulder, Colorado
Major: Environmental Engineering
Why did you apply to be a student ambassador?
I applied to be a student ambassador because throughout my two years at the U, I’ve been given innumerable opportunities to explore engineering and STEM —science, technology, engineering and mathematics— fields as well as begin learning what I want to do with my career. I wanted to have the opportunity to show other prospective students that STEM can be incredibly rewarding and enjoyable if you’re passionate about your field and work hard. I’ve met great professors, conducted research, traveled abroad, held internships and met incredible people. I’d love the opportunity to share my experiences with other students who are looking to do the same.
What advice would you offer to new engineering students?
First and foremost, that engineering is not easy and that in order to make it through you truly need to be passionate about the topic you’re studying. Secondly, always attend class and be an active participant in discussions. Most students who are not successful fail to take advantage of all of the tutors, teaching assistants, and professors who are there to help them. Lastly, that college is also about having fun, and not everything has to be about engineering. My freshman year I joined Engineers Without Borders (EWB), and sophomore year I joined peer tutors. In hindsight, I wish I also had joined more social clubs. In fact, I got scuba certified my second semester through the UM SCUBA Club, which was a great experience. I think every student should have the opportunity to reach outside of their field and have some fun.
What do you feel is unique about being a student at UM College of Engineering?
I feel like UM engineering is unique for a few reasons. First of all, not many engineering students can say they basically go to school at a resort. Secondly, the student-to-faculty ratio is very, which makes seeing them and learning from them a lot easier. There are also tons of research positions available, and I don’t know a single student who wants to do research but can’t find a job. Additionally, with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) located right outside of our campus, the opportunities for career growth and advancement are very high.
Describe what you are doing in this position.
I will serve as a role model to prospective engineering students at UM. My job is show them the opportunities available here and why this is the place for them. My job is to show them the one-on-one learning environments, the research facilities and positions, and the extensive amount of academic resources that are available to help them succeed, while also sharing my own UM experiences.
What did you learn at CoE that has helped you in your position?
I’ve learned plenty about my field in my classes, but through research positions, internships and talking with professors, I’ve also learned many of the necessary skills required to launch a successful career after graduation. Ann Helmers, director of career services, is one of the sweetest people I know, and Assistant Professor Prannoy Suraneni as well as Sivakumar Ramanathan, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, have given me more first-hand knowledge about concrete then one could ever learn in a classroom. I’ve learned about leadership, communication, and I’ve gained a sense of tenacity with respect to my field and my future career.
Which College student organization stands out to you and why?
I love EWB. I have been a member since freshman year and am now set to co-lead the Dominican Republic project. Previously, I traveled to the Dominican Republic to conduct a professional bridge assessment. As a result I have made friends and gained experiences that I will never forget.
What do you feel you are getting out of this position?
I feel like I’ll be gaining leadership experience and interpersonal connections that will help me further my career, and that I’ll be even more involved with CoE itself.
Why has this been a good experience for you?
I was only chosen to be inducted last spring, and haven’t been directly involved with any events yet, but I am looking forward to supporting students and a CoE.
What did you do during your summer 2017 break?
I went abroad to Europe, and then I came back to Miami where I worked part-time while helping Suraneni with his research. I finished out my summer by applying for and receiving a scholarship from the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) in Miami.