Allison posing with the Beijing skyline in China

Allison Widdison

Civil Engineering, Senior

What international experience have you had?

This past spring, I went to China as a member of the BYU Megastructures/Megacities Study Abroad. This opportunity prompted me to grow professionally, academically and personally. The trip was academically challenging. I learned to manage my time more efficiently and to be a positive contributor in a team setting, all while learning the fundamentals of advanced engineering concepts like skyscraper and bridge design.
During my time abroad, I was able to gain technical engineering skills, while experiencing sustainable structures and transportation systems of China firsthand. We worked with students from the Beijing University of Technology and from Tongji University. Although China and the United States are very different culturally, it was comforting to interact with other students and see that engineering is a universal language. I learned the concepts are the same, but the mentality is different. Chinese culture focuses on servicing more people than is realistic in the U.S. Engineers here think in terms of hundreds of thousands of people. In China, engineers think in terms of tens of millions of people.

What have you learned through your experience in engineering?

The most exciting part of my experience in China was the opportunity to grow as a person. I was able to realize that I, as an engineer, can change the world! Engineers have a profound impact on how society operates. By analyzing the world’s tallest buildings, I could see how my undergraduate education could be used to fix everyday problems. After studying abroad, I am more excited and confident that I will be a competent engineer once I graduate.

My experience abroad gave me a chance to see how the United States fits into a larger framework of the world. I saw how the economy and technology in the United States have a far-reaching influence in places I had not considered before. It made me realize that if I, as one person in the U.S., can be an influence in my community – either as an engineer or just as a human being – then I can influence the nation. If I can help incite change in my nation, then I can help promote change on a global scale. Change is only as big as human ingenuity, and human ingenuity is only as effective as we allow it to be. The world needs professionals with integrity who are not afraid to design things that have never been designed before. I now believe in being part of something bigger than myself. I know that I can make a difference, and that my social and technical skills can be a catalyst for change.