California State University, Northridge
Advice to Students
“Don’t limit yourself; if you believe that engineering is the profession you wish to pursue then pursue it to the fullest. You’ll find it is more rewarding than you ever imagined.”
B.S. Civil Engineering California State University Northridge
Brett is now pursuing a Doctorate in Civil Engineering, emphasis Geotechnical at the University of Colorado, Boulder
Q: When did you know you wanted to become an Engineer?
Grunert: Last semester of high school.
Q: What is your college experience like in terms of the amount of time you find you need to study each day?
Grunert: The beginning courses required possibly 3-5 hours per week, while the upper-level casses demanded up to 10 hours per week.
Q: Are you incorporating any work experiences while you are a student? (include both internships/co-ops and any other jobs you may be holding while in school)
Grunert: I held a part-time job at an engineering firm for the last 4 semesters of my undergraduate career, and worked full-time in the summer.
Q: How did you prepare for your college experience?
Grunert: My high school offered AP classes and university credit options that I took advantage of. These courses helped me to enroll in engineering classes prior to the average student.
Q: Did/do you have a mentor that has helped guide you thus far? (If so, describe the impact of this person on your education and career plans)
Grunert: My Academic Advisor and ASCE Practitioner Advisors have served as exceptional role models and have provided invaluable advice to me. They stressed the importance of ethics in engineering and becoming actively involved in professional societies.
Q: Is there a specialty area you have focused on in engineering? If so, what is it, and how did you decide on this specialty? Also, at what point in your college experience did you decide?
Grunert: From my work experience and by interviewing professors and professionals, I decided during the summer before my senior year that I would pursue the geotechnical aspect of civil engineering. The decision was not easy by any means, but I knew that it would be an intriguing, challenging and rewarding discipline, allowing for both critical thinking and creativity.
Q: Is it hard to balance your engineering studies with other college activities (entertainment, travel, having fun)?
Grunert: With good discipline, the balancing act is not hard; the hardest part is choosing the aspect of life which will be sacrificed at a certain time. I was a 4-year intercollegiate athlete, served as a leader of the ASCE student chapter, worked part time, held a rewarding social life and traveled around the country. This lifestyle required picking and choosing and I could not please everyone all the time. The best advice I can give is to make sure that your current activity is the best use of your time and you will not regret it later.
Q: Do you find yourself studying more in a team situation or alone? Do you have a preference?
Grunert: I was a solitary studier; I had a very difficult time studying in a group as I had the tendency to turn it into a more social atmosphere. I preferred to attempt problems on my own and seek out classmates