Year One: What’s it like being a Bruin Engineer?

Apr 3, 2019

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

Last year, we asked newly admitted freshmen why they selected UCLA Samueli. A year later, after their fall and winter quarters, we followed up on what they thought of their first year as Bruin engineers.


AnnikaAnnika Mellquist, Civil Engineering ’22

I couldn’t imagine a better balance between school and fun. It was definitely a challenge acclimating to tougher STEM classes, but it all came together once we applied the lessons during hands-on activities. Through civil engineering clubs, I helped build a structure out of balsa wood which we shook to see if it could withstand an earthquake, I helped make a canoe out of concrete that we’re going to race, and I even got consulting experience by working on a case study on how to improve the engineering mentorship program.

What I really like about UCLA is that there are plenty of fun things to do to blow off steam. My friends and I joined the club Spikeball team, I plan to join club gymnastics this quarter, and we spend most of our Saturdays attempting to surf at Venice Beach. And, of course, I always look forward to my Bruin Plate meals, including those chocolate chip pancakes!

Sometimes, it was a challenge to balance four STEM classes with my clubs and still do fun outdoor stuff with my friends, but it’s all about time management.


JonathanJonathan Davies, Computer Science ’22

I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible in just a few months. I attended my first university hackathon, learned how to use 3D printers and laser cutters at the Boelter makerspace and, after learning how to use Arduino microcontrollers, coded an inertial measurement unit for the rocket club. I even made a desktop video game with C++ for my computer science class, and worked with an awesome team to make an electrocardiogram in my Engineering 96 class.

Although I’ve met some of the kindest, smartest, and most passionate people I’ve ever encountered, it has not been a cake walk. UCLA has challenged me far more than I could have imagined. However, I remind myself of one of my favorite quotes from Meet the Robinsons: “From failure you learn, from success not so much.” So, after two outstanding quarters—full of epic wins and epic failures—I must say, there is no better place to push me to be the best version of myself than UCLA.


MelodyMelody Tang, Bioengineering ’22

Transitioning from high school to the UC quarter system has its challenges. The pace here is much quicker, and grades are usually based on an exam or two and a final. I was surprised by how much I had to exercise my legs since I live in Hedrick Summit! I was also a little surprised by not being able to make friends easily in lectures since it seemed like everyone was just in class to learn and then leave.

However, I definitely had many great experiences that outweigh anything else. I jumped at the early fall quarter opportunity to meet people by rushing Theta Tau, a co-ed professional engineering fraternity. Although I’m not an extrovert, I felt that I would enjoy surrounding myself with like-minded people from the fraternity. Thanks to that leap of faith, I found a support group and a family that has helped me grow tremendously as a person, not to mention all the fun memories I’m making.

Overall, the sudden independence of life at UCLA has taught me a lot about myself: my strengths, my weaknesses, and my potential. What you get out of your experience here is what you put into the opportunities available. You never know what can happen until you venture to take that first step—so take it!


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