Samantha Bahena

Scholarship Status: Awarded 1st Place
Scholarship Awarded: Geotechnical Scholarship
University: California State University, Fullerton
Date of Graduation: Spring 2019


Essay:

As a sophomore in college I began to get involved with my school’s geotechnical engineering projects some of which consisted of building a small-scale retention wall that can hold a vertical load. With the time and dedication, I put in I earned my spot on the 2017 Geo Wall Team. I was the only girl and only sophomore on the team, we competed at Nationals in Orlando, Florida at the GeoFrontiners Conference and Regionals in Irvine, California at PSWC where we placed 1st at both competitions. Now that I am a junior in college, I am currently the president for the California Geotechnical Engineers Association and the secretary for the ASCE for the student chapters at Cal State Fullerton. Aside from holding my officer positions I am the new Geo Wall captain for Cal State Fullerton. This year’s competition will include building a small-scale retention wall that will hold a vertical load but will also include piles. I will be attending the International Symposium on Applied Research later in November where I will represent Cal State Fullerton by giving a presentation on our Geo Wall project. I am excited to be able to take the lead on the Geo Wall project since I enjoyed being on the team the first time and I learned things that you don’t usually learn in the class room. But aside from learning new things you are also able to apply what you do learn in the class room to these projects. My Vision for the Future of Geotechnical Engineering would include being able to work on projects or be more exposed to projects related to earthquakes, landslides and water/flooding. Dealing with earthquakes I want to be able to protect infrastructure from crumbling. Seeing images of earthquakes, the damages and casualties they caused are heartbreaking sights to see. I want to be able to say I had something to do with helping avoid or lessen the damages earthquakes can cause. Especially since California is long overdue for the “big one” and lying on San Andres Fault is just another reason to take extra precautions for the safety of the others. This way we could hopefully have little or no casualties. Landslides on the other hand, prove that stability is important. With the last landslide that occurred on the Pacific Coast Highway it spreads fear because you wouldn’t have expected one to occur yet the damage that it cost is every expensive. It is important to contribute to the safety of others by helping with stabilizing natural slopes and building large scale retention walls. When it comes to water/flooding, water resources in geotechnical engineering interests me. I would like to work with dams and how they store water. Or deal with dykes and levees to prevent floods whether it be from the sea or rivers. The recent hurricanes that have hit the United States caused so much damage, it would be fascinating to come up with a solution to minimize the damages for future flooding. My vision not just for geotechnical engineering but my future is to help others by keeping them safe and live a healthier life.

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