Alicia Shelvay '11
Since childhood, Alicia Shelvay '11 (CE) has enjoyed designing and creating things, whether it was a fort in her backyard or a shelf for her books. As a young adult, she realized that she could turn her love for building into a profession through civil engineering.
She says, “Civil engineering represents a field that involves creativity, innovation and science. Figuring out a way to make designs work and bringing them to life is what it’s all about.”
Alicia, a senior from Buffalo, N.Y., is studying civil engineering at Clarkson with a minor in quality-based project management and concentrations in project management and structural engineering.
For her, the key to being a civil engineering student at Clarkson is keeping an open mind. “You have to try every activity that sparks your interest and not be afraid to try new things. If you do that, the opportunities available to you are both endless and one-of-a-kind,” she explains.
She would know, since she’s been involved in a number of activities, including summer research, the Society of Women Engineers, Circle K, Tau Beta Pi (the engineering honor society), Engineers Without Borders and the Concrete Canoe SPEED (Student Projects in Engineering Experience & Design) team.
Her opportunity for summer research started just after her freshman year, when she worked with Prof. Narayanan Neithalath on a project to help researchers and engineers predict the strength of the concrete in bridges and other structures.
“We wanted to find a way to take an image of the pore structure of concrete so people in the future could see its properties. It will help make buildings and bridges made with concrete more safe,” she explains. “It was a great learning experience.”
On the Concrete Canoe team, Alicia really gets to show her creative side while serving as co-captain. Each year, her team must build a canoe from scratch using concrete and conform to the limitations of the contest. “Yes, it has to float!” she says. And that’s not it. The mold of the canoe is designed and manufactured by hand, while the concrete used for the canoe is also designed by the team.
“With all these activities available, I not only get to learn the information I need to know to be an engineer, but I also learn the social and technical skills necessary to succeed,” she says. We’re sure she will.