Profile: Anizka Garcia

A passion for volunteerism, combined with a strong interest in building construction and an impressive scholarship opportunity, led senior Civil Engineering student Anizka Garcia to UConn. Ms. Garcia has invested dedication and hard work into her undergraduate years; in early May, she will embark on the next stage of her education. Read her profile below.

Major/Year: Civil Engineering; senior; graduation May ’07

High school: Conard High School, West Hartford, CT

What attracted you to UConn:
“When I first began to consider colleges, financial support was critical. Most colleges require incoming students to submit their financial aid applications by December, long before general applications. I knew by January that UConn was offering me a full-ride scholarship, so the decision was simple. I wouldn’t have been able to afford college without my scholarship. I’m very happy with my choice.”

“I’ve always felt able to do anything I put my mind to, but I had not planned on being an engineer. My decision was a process of elimination. I’m interested in everything. I love the arts, literature, music and dance – but I also enjoy math and, for the most part, science. Despite the need I didn’t want to pursue a health-care career. I’ve always admired houses and knew I had an interest in construction focused volunteer work, so I settled on either engineering or architecture. After coming to UConn, I considered both mechanical and civil engineering and ultimately decided on civil engineering.”

“The courses seemed impossible at times. Late nights, tears, headaches, tears, hand cramps…four years later, I look back and have to say ‘I guess it is possible, because here I am!’ The people in the program are excellent. There’s a high concentration of capable, friendly guys, and the teachers are versatile and knowledgeable. The classes are a good size, and there are lots of activities available for student engagement.”

Beyond Academics:
“I did two summers of undergraduate research, one in Texas and one in Indiana. My first experience at the University of Texas – Arlington involved modeling and finite element analysis of structural materials under flexural loading, such as wind. We tested CCTV poles in the lab and compared the compiled data against our ABAQUS software simulations. My experience at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, IN involved low head dam hazard remediation. Laboratory experiments and computer simulations using Flow 3D were performed on different types of dams. Our goal was to determine how such dams can be retrofitted to reduce drowning deaths. It was very cool. We used frozen peas to simulate humans (they had the right buoyancy) and videotaped how the peas got caught in the vortex, and how different energy dissipation devices affected the results.”

Career Plans:
“Here’s where the fun begins…I want to become a knowledgeable, experienced engineer. I derive pride from doing my job well. However, my ultimate goal is to serve as an engineer in foreign countries, helping out with construction projects in less fortunate countries. I would do this volunteer work through my religious organization. A program for this is already set up, and many willing volunteers already participate.”

“Right now, I am committed to spending four weeks working on a Native American reservation in either New Mexico or Arizona and then settling into part-time employment that will allow me to continue my volunteer work as a structural engineer.”