In 2014, Shilpkumar did what many students do over the summer—he went on vacation. He flew from his home in India to visit his uncle in the United States; during that trip, he visited the University of South Carolina, and decided to apply. He now has a degree in civil engineering from UofSC, as well as an exciting new job as a structural engineer.
Journey to UofSC and civil engineering
Shilpkumar’s success took courage and hard work, especially at the beginning. “It wasn’t easy to leave the country I grew up in and join a completely different culture,” he says. But it got better and he found his place. In fact, what he liked most about UofSC was something that initially surprised him—diversity. He liked that “people from around the world come to UofSC to study various majors,” and he was drawn to civil engineering.
With his father in real estate and an uncle working as a civil engineer in India, Shilpkumar has been passionate about buildings and construction since childhood. Civil engineering also allowed him to study math and physics—subjects he had always enjoyed—in greater depth. The major was a perfect fit.
Through his international student program at UofSC, Shilpkumar was automatically enrolled in the Career Accelerator Program (CAP). He says that CAP “helped me transfer smoothly into American culture. It helped me excel in my academics and professional career.” Through CAP, he completed an internship in India helping senior engineers design bridges; he was able to explore the field of structural engineering; and gained experience critical to his new job at Carolina Transportation Engineers & Associates in Charlotte, North Carolina.
From international college student to structural engineer
Even though he is new to the job, Shilpkumar is already busy. He is working on quality assessment, load rating, and plan drawings for bridge design. His internship in India added valuable experience to his resume, which was helpful when he applied for the job. It was a UofSC instructor who alerted him to the position.
Now that he has a job as an engineer, he says, “I am excited to apply the theoretical knowledge I have gained during my academic years. I want to see how things are done in real life.”
Having adjusted to life in South Carolina, Shilpkumar now found it was time to move to a new state. His family helped the transition go smoothly, and he encourages anyone thinking about moving “[to] get some help. Help from your friends and family is always good.”
From a young student on summer vacation to a college graduate working as a structural engineer, Shilpkumar’s story shows what is possible for international students. He has advice for international students pursuing civil engineering: “Keep going. You may feel it’s a lot to digest, but trust [that] it’s worth doing.”
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