Outstanding Graduate, Spring 2023
Benjamin Tan says he always liked math and at some stage of his youth also developed an interest in highways and bridges. Those inclinations combined to eventually influence his decision to pursue a degree in civil engineering.
Since setting out on that path, his higher education experiences have put him on a somewhat unexpected journey of self-discovery.
In learning about his chosen field and writing technical papers on engineering subjects, Tan says he surprised himself by becoming a much better writer and a more precise communicator than he had ever imagined.
“During my sophomore year I realized that I excel when working with a team,” he says. “I learned that I do great in groups that communicate well with each other rather than working by myself.”
He saw those developing skills help to provide productive endeavors as an undergraduate teaching assistant for three semesters, a section leader in the ASU 101 first-year student orientation course and as vice president of the ASU chapter of Chi Epsilon, the civil engineering honors society.
Tan says he now looks at his experiences in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU, as having given him not only engineering skills but also valuable expertise as a teacher and mentor.
He credits Keith Hjelmstad, President’s Professor of structural engineering, with making him both an effective educator and engineer.
“He helped me to push myself to become a better teacher,” Tan says. “His style of teaching is extremely engaging and it made me want to become a teaching assistant. I learned so much from him about the realm of structural engineering that it sparked a passion in me.”
Among his other constructive and creative experiences in the Fulton Schools were the laboratory and research presentation sessions he engaged in with fellow students.
“It enabled me to connect with so many classmates and develop what I expect to be lifelong relationships with them,” he says.
Tan is finishing his undergraduate years having made the dean’s list in seven of his eight semesters of studies and is graduating with summa cum laude honors. He has also already completed a year of industry experience as a structural engineering intern with AECOM, an infrastructure consulting company.
Tan says his ASU experiences make him confident about taking the next step to broaden his education as he prepares to pursue a graduate degree in structural engineering at the University of Washington.