Outstanding Graduate, Fall 2019
Aidan Bjelland always enjoyed building with LEGO bricks and dreamed of a career in architecture.
When he got to Central Arizona College, Bjelland saw more opportunities in civil engineering. He transferred to Arizona State University due to its well-regarded engineering program.
Bjelland conducted undergraduate research through the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative with President’s Professor Keith Hjelmstad and Lecturer Kristen Ward, studying how to induce structural stability in systems affected by earthquakes. He built digital and physical models of buildings in earthquake conditions to observe the effects.
Bjelland says Hjelmstad was also his most impactful professor.
“He has always been someone who I could talk to during my undergraduate experience and bounce ideas off of,” Bjelland says. “Ultimately, he’s given me more mentorship than I could have ever hoped to receive by someone of his caliber and for that, I am deeply grateful.”
The Barrett, The Honors College student was highly involved outside of the classroom, serving as treasurer for civil engineering honors society Chi Epsilon and vice president of the Barrett transfer student organization, BHCANS. He also earned several scholarships including the Carl L. and Jean Wolcott Meng Memorial Scholarship, ASAP-METS Scholarship and CVS Caremark Scholarship.
Bjelland encourages students to always seek out opportunities when they present themselves. He was grateful for friends and professors who pushed, and sometimes shoved, him into opportunities to get him out of his comfort zone.
“At the end of the day, I learned that the worst thing someone can say to you is no,” he says, “whereas in the best-case scenario you could gain the experience of a lifetime.”
Bjelland also discovered a passion for education during his undergraduate years.
“Being able to be an undergraduate teaching assistant has been one of the best experiences of my life, and as showed me how passionate I am about education,” Bjelland says. “I hope in the future I’ll be able to continue to assist other civil engineering students in achieving their dreams like I’ve been assisted in achieving mine.”
He is currently pursuing the 4+1 accelerated master’s degree program at ASU in structural engineering and plans to pursue a doctorate in structural engineering.