Annie Chen – student service, youth education, creating opportunities
Hometown: Shanghai, China; Los Angeles; and Toledo, Ohio
Current year: Senior
Why I chose Civil Engineering
In High School, I loved guitars, and I was told that we’d get to build a guitar in physics, which was an elective at my school. While taking that class, I then realized I enjoyed the idea of building and that I could see vectors and three-dimensional objects in my head. Then, I started to consider engineering as a career path. In my junior and senior years in high school, I was able to visit Purdue, and I remember being incredibly impressed when I learned Purdue Civil Engineering faculty and alumni have been involved in some of the most impressive structural feats in the world.
As a first-year engineering student, I took a class that was taught by Professor Rao Govindaraju. At the time, I didn’t realize he was actually the head of the school; I just thought he was a really interesting and funny teacher. We got to tour a lot of active construction projects. From those experiences, I decided civil engineering was the school for me.
When I first started, I chose to emphasize in structural engineering. I’d love to be able to go somewhere and point out what I helped build — whether it be a skyscraper or a rollercoaster. For me, being able to physically see your work and have be something that can be appreciated by others is very appealing.
Also, I have always preferred to work outside over being stuck behind a computer all day, every day. I enjoy the idea of being able to leave the office and actually go to the site I am designing and work in a more freeing environment.
Civil Engineering is one of the biggest areas of opportunity for disruptive innovation. Compared to shipping or manufacturing, which has become two-to-four times more efficient in the past century, construction has become more expensive. Through my internship experiences, I realized that I was passionate about business strategy and helping cater to changing consumer demands. I spent many of my technical electives taking Entrepreneurship and Innovation classes, which was awesome. Since I didn’t fulfill the requirements for the structural emphasis, I will be graduating with a general Civil Engineering Degree. Nonetheless, I’m grateful the school lets students take technical electives outside of our major.
Out-of-classroom education and involvement
As people, we all want to be a part of something bigger, and, through my education at the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, I got to work on literally big projects. Through Purdue University on-campus recruiting, I got three civil engineering internships — and I’ve worked as an audio assistant for Fox Sports B1G Football. In my CE internships, I worked for Bechtel Corporation, in both engineering design and construction, and for Marathon Petroleum Corporation. I have been involved in a $6.5billion state-of-the-art uranium processing facility for the U.S. Department of Energy and a $33 million pipeline.
Outside of civil engineering-focused service, I’ve also had the opportunity to work with Fox Sports, which afforded me a chance to see TV productions (and Purdue games) from an angle I never thought I’d see. I’m very grateful for the diverse employment options that Purdue University provides.
I also serve as Vice President of Chi Epsilon and Outreach Team Coordinator for Purdue University Women in Engineering. In both organizations, we strive to serve the community and promote engineering education. Chi Epsilon especially has been a tremendous source friendship and development for me.
After I graduate
I would like to pursue my MBA and use the education I received from Purdue to guide my future career path.
Annie serves as vice president for Chi Epsilon.