Complete Engineer Conference prepares students for success

Complete Engineer Conference prepares students for success

Calendar Icon Mar 24, 2017      Person Bust Icon By Karl Vogel     RSS Feed RSS

Student teams give their five-minute presentations during the Think Big: Team Competition on March 22 at the Complete Engineer Conference at Union Pacific in Omaha.
Student teams give their five-minute presentations during the Think Big: Team Competition on March 22 at the Complete Engineer Conference at Union Pacific in Omaha.

The four-day 2017 Complete Engineer Conference, the premier leadership conference for Nebraska Engineering students, wrapped up on Wednesday at Union Pacific in Omaha.

Focusing on enhancing essential non-technical skills, the 51 students who attended the conference said they are more prepared for the challenges faced in professional environments and in the world as a whole.

"Engineering isn't always about the math and the science, it's about the human interaction, it's communicating with people and having to interact," said Oussama Maham, a junior in civil engineering.

"(The Complete Engineer Conference) got me thinking about the future and how it's always better to have the mind-set of being prepared and being honest with myself about my limitations. I know I can't always draw that perfect picture and ignore my problems. I'm going to be more comfortable identifying my problems and weaknesses and working on them."

In addition to the keynote address from Union Pacific CEO, Chariman and President Lance Fritz; students also learned valuable lessons from many speakers from Union Pacific, UNL and UNO. Those topics included self-awareness, business etiquette and protocol; leadership and diversity and applying a company's core competencies to engineering and operations.

Students also had an opportunity to network with Union Pacific executives and employees at a Monday night mixer and discussed many topics related to the professional world.

Alexis Woodward, a senior biological systems engineering major, said the conference gave the Nebraska Engineering students a standard for making decisions about their post-graduation careers and instilled confidence that is necessary for success.

"I didn't know what to expect going in, but it is an experience for young engineers to get an idea of what a great company looks like and what to expect from a company," Woodward said. "Union Pacific has represented what a great company should look like and what you as an engineer should work for and strive for."

"The Complete Engineer Conference also gives us a sense of 'I can do anything, I have the power to influence others, the power to lead others and the power to help others. Ultimately, that's the cool part of what engineering is about."

During the conference, students were split into nine teams for the Thinking Big: Team Competition. On Wednesday, those teams had two hours to develop creative solutions to one of the 14 Engineering Grand Challenges. Teams then had five minutes to present their solution to a panel of judges. Members of the winning team – George Babcock, Nathan German, Samone Hinsley, Caleb Kowalski, Omar Nazarie and Jared Tomes – each were presented with a $500 scholarship.

Even though his team didn't win the competition, Ahbab Murtoza, a sophomore in chemical and biomolecular engineering, said he will carry lessons from the competition the rest of his life.

"It gave the confidence to succeed and to be a leader," Murtoza said. "We had very limited time and limited resources. It's an unexpected situation. Life is challenging, and we learned that when uncertainty comes along, you have to deal with it because there's no other way around it."