Outstanding Graduate, Spring 2021
Among the many things Damian Nguyen learned in his engineering and construction studies, the most valuable lesson wasn’t anything technical.
The most important outcome of his undergraduate education in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Nguyen says, is that “it pushed me to work and think harder.”
It was the most difficult courses — those demanding a lot of critical thinking and extra effort — that taught him how to not only deal with difficult schoolwork, “but also to overcome all the obstacles in my life,” he says.
Nguyen says he learned “how to become a true engineer” from motivating lectures by Professor Narayanan Neithalath in concrete and materials courses that “were always full of energy and great advice,” he says.
A first-generation college student, Nguyen was drawn to construction engineering because it offers an expansive platform for developing a useful combination of skills.
“I like building and designing structures, and I want to have the ability to build and also to understand the science behind structures and to see why things are designed the way they are,” says Nguyen, who made the dean’s list for two semesters and earned a Jerry King Scholarship to help support his studies.
An internship with a construction company improved Nguyen’s leadership skills and confidence. Doing a laborious earthworks project in a heavy civil equipment course taught him the rewards of successful teamwork.
From those projects and similar experiences, Nguyen says, he came to realize that professional fulfillment comes not from doing only what a job requires but in “striving for innovation and bigger achievements.”
Nguyen foresees himself maturing in the field by blending the perspectives of both a designer and a builder, enabling him to bring both practicality and creativity to his future professional endeavors.
He says that being named the winner of this semester’s construction engineering program Outstanding Graduate award is confirmation he chose the path that is the best fit for him in the engineering world.
Nguyen will be working to further expand his talents by beginning studies at Arizona State University in the fall for a master’s degree in architecture before pursuing a career as a construction project engineer.