The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently announced the selection of Sabrina Rivera, a fourth-year student at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), as a finalist for its 2013 New Faces of Civil Engineering – College Edition.
Rivera was chosen from a field of talented college students nationwide whose academic and extracurricular achievements demonstrate their promise as future engineers and leaders in their profession.
“I was very excited to find out that I had been selected for this national award,” said Rivera, 23, who will complete her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with a minor in environmental science and policy this May. “I have put a lot of time into the ASCE CSULB chapter, and it is great to see the outcome now through this award and the success of the club.”
As an ASCE New Face, Rivera is eligible for selection as ASCE’s representative for the national New Faces of Engineering – College Edition recognition program, sponsored by the National Engineers Week Foundation. If chosen, she will be recognized along with top students from other engineering disciplines in a national media campaign, and receive a $500 cash scholarship from ASCE. The announcement will be made April 1.
A 2007 graduate of St. Joseph High School in Lakewood, Rivera began her studies at CSULB as a biology major. While she found the subject interesting, she said it just wasn’t something she felt passionate about, so she spent time searching through different campus departments.
“I eventually wound up in the Civil Engineering/Construction Engineering Management Department talking to a graduate advisor,” she recalled. “He told me about the many ways civil engineers were improving water and waste-water treatment, about building bridges and improving the relationship of our built environment with the natural one. I changed my major the next day, and I can honestly say that it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
The current president of the school’s ASCE chapter and a member of the team participating in the regional Concrete Canoe Competition, Rivera also serves in a liaison capacity between the chapter and the Younger Member Forum of ASCE’s Orange County Branch, which is part of the Los Angeles Section. Last year, the chapter and the forum jointly hosted an event that challenged middle school students to build bridges using Popsicle sticks.
“I wish someone [earlier in my life] had told me of the seemingly endless possibilities that are available through engineering,” said Rivera, who was born and raised in Long Beach and whose mother also graduated from CSULB. “I was always under the impression that engineering was too hard, but now that I am in my senior year, I view all of those struggles as important building blocks for the person that I have become.”
A member of Chi Epsilon, Tau Beta Pi, and the Golden Key International Honor Society, Rivera has also served as treasurer of the Engineers Without Borders–USA chapter and written grant applications for that group. As a volunteer in the activities organized by the Orange County Branch in connection with Engineers Week in 2012, she helped plan events where students built towers using spaghetti and tape, and this year she helped organize a cardboard boat race for students.
“As graduation approaches I am looking forward to utilizing the knowledge and skills that I have gained through school and work to improve my community and to finding solutions to many of the challenges that our society faces and make the world around me a better place,” Rivera said. “I am excited for the opportunities to come from this new phase in my life.”
As she prepares to graduate, Rivera said she is looking for a position in the field of water resources where she will be able to continue to grow and develop as an engineer. She has enjoyed the areas of hydraulics, hydrology and groundwater transport in her studies and is also interested in project management. She would like to work for a firm where she will be able to gain experience with a variety of projects.
Founded in 1852, ASCE represents more than 140,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society. ASCE partners with The National Engineers Week Foundation coalition to recognize top college engineering students by recognizing the most promising civil engineering professionals of tomorrow through the annual New Faces of Civil Engineering College Edition program.
Ten diverse and global civil engineering students in their third, fourth or fifth year are selected. Honorees are recognized for academic excellence, leadership within student organizations, outstanding communication skills, non-engineering related community service and involvement in the engineering industry. This inclusive national program includes students from the civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical, industrial and manufacturing engineering majors.
In addition to being featured in key ASCE publications and social media sites, finalist applications will be shared with the National Engineers Week Foundation to be considered as the civil engineering representative amongst the New Faces of Engineering College Edition honorees.