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Engineering Students Tackle Civics
Taking a break from labs, lectures, and studying, close to 50 Georgia Tech students (half of whom were engineers) made the trek to the state Capitol on February 1 to participate in Student Capitol Day.
Feb 3, 2017
Story and photos by Ben Wright
Organized by the Student Government Association with support from Georgia Tech's Office of Government and Community Relations, the event is a unique opportunity for students to get a first-hand look at state government during the legislative session and to learn more about how the goings-on at the Capitol affect them as students and residents. The gathering is attended by students and legislators with a Georgia Tech affliation together with Georgia Tech alumni and friends who work in and around the Capitol.
This year Georgia Tech was invited to attend on the same day as students from the University System of Georgia's other three research universities- Augusta University, Georgia State University, and the University of Georgia.
Participants had the opportunity to mingle and network, pose for a group photo with Georgia governor Nathan Deal and Georgia Tech president Bud Peterson and hear from state representative Bert Reeves and Tech's vice president of government relations, Dene Sheane. Students were also able to observe the legislature in action from the House or Senate galleries.
Here is what some of the engineering students in attendance had to say about why they chose to attend.
"I'm a senior in mechanical engineering and I am from India. I wanted to explore how the state is run. I've been to the Capitol in DC and I wanted to see how the state government differs from the federal government. After graduation I'm planning on doing a master's or working. If I get a master's I will stay at Georgia Tech. I would like to launch a technology-related startup, and that's one of the reasons I am here today. I think as a future business-owner it's important to understand how states regulate industries.
"I'm from southwest Georgia in the Albany area. Recently my hometown was hit by a series of hurricanes and tornadoes. One of the reasons I came here was to get involved and understand how our state legislator is going to be able to support our community which has been absolutely devastated. I wanted to make sure that what's being done on the political side can make a difference for people back in my hometown. I'm a fifth year industrial engineer with a double minor. After graduating I'm moving to Portland to work for Intel and then I'll be applying to graduate school in China.
"I am an aerospace engineering major from Roswell, Georgia. I'm really interested in the legislative process in general, but particularly how it impacts my major. A lot of aerospace jobs are either contracted by the government or working directly for the government, so there's a lof of policy in that process. So that's why I was interested in coming here. I'm a second year and I would love to work for NASA someday."
"I'm an ISyE major from New York, Delaware. I attended because I think it's good to have student engagement in the community and it's important to understand how our legislators are supporting Georgia Tech. I'm not sure what I want to do after graduation, but something in politics is a possibility eventually."
Ben Nickel (above)
"I'm a fourth year industrial engineer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvannia. Of the schools in the University System of Georgia, Georgia Tech is by far the biggest contributor to the state economy, so I think it's incredibly important to represent our school here. Since we're the biggest economic contributor we need to have representation here in the Capitol, and we need to make sure they know what our priorties are so we can work together. I'm looking to do Teach for America for two years, then I'd like to go into a career in politics or government. What that looks like, I'm not sure, but my goal is to work somewhere in education or education policy. That's what I'm passionate about. I'd like to use my industrial engineering degree to help efficiently allocate education resources across the country. In order to do that I think I should have some teaching experience to know what it's like. I think it's a perspective that's sorely missing in state government today.