Zola Adjei in Guanajuato, Mexico on her Civil Engineering International Study trip.

Zola Adjei

Civil Engineering, Senior

What has been your involvement in the engineering program?

In the Fall of 2007, I declared a major in Civil Engineering at BYU. At the beginning of my junior year in the program, I was called on a mission to serve in the New York North mission. Upon my return, I set certain goals that I wanted to accomplish as part of my career course. This included writing and passing the Fundamental of Engineering (FE) exam, taking up an internship relating to my field and possibly engaging in an international study abroad. Thus far I have been able to meet all of these goals.

What international experience have you had?

I joined a club in the engineering college called Global Engineering Outreach (GEO) which offers a design class where each student is assigned to a group to innovate projects to help people in Peru and other developing countries. Unfortunately my schedule didn’t allow me to participate so I explored other opportunities.

The Civil Engineering department sent out emails not long after about study abroad programs to China, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. This caught my interest so I began to attend information meetings. I was determined to get through with the application process and made inquiries about requirements I had to meet as an international student participant. The college subsidized our travel expenses and the final cost ended up being reasonably cheap. I took advantage of the price, knowing it was a rare opportunity.

My choice of program was the water resources program to Guanajuato, Mexico.

What have you learned through your experience in engineering?

At the end of the trip, I realized that I got a lot more back than I expected. I learned a lot of values from my BYU teammates and students from two other Universities in Mexico I worked with. The best part of the experience was being able to apply the technical knowledge I had acquired in my education, thus far, in a practical setting. We studied flooding events occurring in a subdivision as a result of frequent overflow of the Guanajuato River during rainstorm events and the possible alternatives to solve the problem. This experience provided a chance for me to use new software we had learned about to create models to simulate the flooding.

Learning to become a good leader was a skill which this program emphasized strongly. A lot of the classes I have taken have provided teamwork skills, but this time integrating people from different backgrounds was the challenge. An important benefit the program offered was learning and applying team work skills in a diverse setting which prepares us for a major aspect of our future engineering careers. The exposure to a different culture was a bonus which came with the program. Many of our team members had served in Spanish-speaking missions and were able to help translate and communicate with our counterparts. Even with the language being a barrier for me, I still was able to get the most of the experience. We also made cultural visits and enjoyed the food, both of which I would not have had otherwise.

From what I have learned so far studying at BYU to become a future engineer, I have had the most satisfaction from participating in the study abroad to Mexico, Capstone and doing an internship where I have developed a greater confidence in applying what I have learned in class to the real world. I will encourage every student to take advantage of the programs the college offers to enhance their learning.