In the Spotlight- Manjot Singh
Manjot Singh is one of our graduating seniors this spring and the Undergraduate Student Government President. We are grateful for his time and wish him a successful future!
Tell us a little about yourself and what originally made you decide to study Civil Engineering at Stony Brook?
I am currently graduating in May with my BE in Civil Engineering and pursuing my Master’s under the Accelerated Program. I was born and raised in Queens, NY where I attended Francis Lewis High School. Growing up in the city, I was always fascinated by infrastructure, whether it was driving by the astonishing skyline, taking the complex subway or even trips to the airport to drop off family. My dad is a masonry construction worker, and he would never let me work alongside him because it was dangerous and I could get hurt, but that inspired me even more to pursue a career as a Civil Engineer. I chose Stony Brook University not only for the proximity to home, however when I first stepped foot on campus during admissions day in April, I felt a sense of community and vibrancy that felt similar to the diverse environment in high school. In addition, SBU is a leading academic institution, and the Civil Engineering program itself seemed like a small, close knit community, with great faculty interactions which are harder to find in bigger universities or departments at SBU.
What is your “dream job”?
My dream job would be working with infrastructure policy and advocating for the enhancement of greater engineering practices that promote resilience and sustainability. At times it feels as if we are in the beginning of an essential turning point, where we have to adapt better principles to reverse some of the negative impacts we have had on nature and the world. Most importantly, it would be very rewarding to transform the knowledge we have obtained to better serve our communities and advance the built society. Whether that is serving a role in our government or companies that believe in the innovation and enhancement of communities through infrastructure, I want to have a role in analyzing the impact we can have through change. When I was a child, I always had a dream of becoming a lawyer. Maybe I'll be both a civil engineer and a lawyer!
What field of Civil Engineering are you most passionate about and why?
I am most interested in structural engineering because it provides answers to questions that I am still figuring out, how does this or that structure even stand? Structural engineering plays an integral part in taking a drawing and actually determining mechanisms to allow it to exist. Through my CIV 310 and 411 courses, it continues to fascinate me that as close as I am to figuring out how we can make things stand, there is always another integral matter that needs to be accounted for, for example now I am learning about natural frequencies. So there has been a constant pull into the field of structures, as I am still trying to answer the question I started with. Overall, growing up in NYC, I have been exposed to large structures such as bridges, that continue to amaze me as I drive on them today. This general curiosity has me analyzing structures even when I am not in a classroom.
You're currently the Undergraduate Student Government President. How did you get involved in USG and why did you decide to run for President? What have been some of the most interesting things or learning experiences you've had while being USG President?
First and foremost, it has been a genuine honor to serve as the President of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), representing the entire student body and advocating for them. During my freshman year, I saw USG take lead on campus wide events and initiatives, and seeing diverse leaders take charge, I always had a sense of attachment and involvement with USG. I got involved as the Senior Vice President of the Residence Hall Association, and through that experience I obtained a USG senator position my junior year. Being able to vote on key legislation, presenting a voice for the student body and seeing the dire need to bring back student life post COVID-19, I decided to run as President under the initiative of enhancing student experiences and establishing a USG closer to the student body.
One of the most interesting experiences I have had while being the President of USG is honestly witnessing the reemergence of student life on campus, which includes bringing back large scale events that make college experiences special and memorable, such as Wolfie Land and Spooky Brook, and potentially Brookfest and Roth Regatta. In addition, one of my highlights was being able to propose and approve legislation that promotes equity in the funding of USG funded clubs and organizations, which we believe will have a strong impact on student life and greater impact of the Student Activities Fee.
One of the most interesting experiences I have had this year is applying engineering processes and problem solving skills to better serve and advocate for students. As civil engineering students, we constantly learn, apply and evaluate each and every time we innovate solutions. At USG, it’s honestly a roller coaster sometimes, playing different roles as a lawyer one day or an accountant or as HR but most importantly, as a leader. I believe that my engineering background has prepared me to handle each situation with grace, effectiveness and success.
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned in the last several years or throughout your college career?
The biggest thing I have learned through my college career is to always have faith and confidence in yourself. College is such a unique experience in that everyone goes through a different self growth experience, where we transition into legitimate adulthood. Through this process, everyone goes through such a developmental phase that if there is anything that prompts success, it is believing in the person that is the most important, and that’s yourself. As a civil engineer, we spend the last years learning that the foundation is the most integral part of any structure, although Professor Farhadzadeh might say it’s the soil the foundation rests upon. Nonetheless, that foundation only cures stronger the greater we believe in ourselves, so whether it’s a job interview, an exam, or an election for USG even, it’s vital to keep ourselves motivated and place faith in ourselves.
Has there been a professor or mentor at Stony Brook who has been a positive influence or been a mentor on your academic journey and what did they do to help you or what happened to make them your mentor?
Professor Yacizi, who has been my primary academic advisor, has not only been a positive influence on my academic journey, but provided such a welcoming environment since my 1st year. Professor Yacizi always encourages me to achieve more and aim higher for myself. His charisma was one of my first interactions with the Civil Engineering Department and I believe it’s advisors and instructors like him that motivate and persevere students to thrive through their academic journeys. He was one of the intiatial mentors to show me the accelerated masters program and really explain to me the implications of it. His guidance never felt forced, but was extremely genuine and was catered to my personal interests.
Through my overall college career as a student leader, there were many individuals that empowered me to make decisions on my own, and provided me immense guidance and knowledge that helped me grow as an individual. Especially in my journey with USG, it has been individuals like Dean Jeffrey Barnett, Director of Student Engagement Chrisitne Marullo and our USG Administrative Manager Carlos Cobo. All three individuals
provided support and guidance but most importantly cared for me and my team to succeed and better serve the students, which has been our shared goal.
Why did you decide to pursue our Accelerated Program (AP)?
hose to pursue the Accelerated Program not only because of the convenience and potential financial benefits, but because I have a desire to learn and absorb more information to better prepare me for the future journey. As my specialization is in structural engineering, there is a lot left to learn and advance upon for the future. I had the privilege of completing a Transportation Construction Inspector role with the NYS DOT and an engineering internship at Skanska, and one common advice I received was to pursue greater knowledge and really learn about a diverse array within Civil Engineering, from the design to the construction process. As my specialization is in structural engineering, I genuinely believe that there are skills that we obtain from each course that we complete, and I want to maximize the opportunities given the financial and time incentive of the program.