Four years ago, Britain Materek earned a degree in economics. He liked economics well enough, but after he graduated, he realized what he loved best was civil engineering.
So he enrolled at NJIT for a second bachelor’s degree, in civil engineering.
It was perhaps the best decision he ever made. Britain excelled here, so much so that the Newark College of Engineering recently granted him one of its highest honors, naming him its Outstanding Civil Engineering Student.
“I’ve always had a curiosity about how things work, and I’ve always liked solving problems,” said Britain. “Civil engineering encompasses both of those facets, so it’s a natural fit for me.”
Britain grew up in Parsippany, N.J., and graduated from Parsippany Hills High School. In 2003 he graduated from Rutgers College with a bachelor’s degree in economics.
He won three scholarships to attend NJIT and will graduate this spring with a near-perfect grade point average of 3.7. He is captain of the Civil Engineering Department’s Steel Bridge team, which is known nationally for its innovative designs and winning techniques. He belonged to a seismic student team that designed a model of a building that could withstand earthquake conditions. The seismic team recently won a national engineering award for structural innovation. He also competed in a contest involving concrete cylinders.
Britain was treasurer of the American Society of Civil Engineer’s student chapter and vice president of Chi Epsilon, the civil engineering honor society. He is a member of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society.
“Britain is an excellent civil engineering student who has clearly demonstrated a natural aptitude for conceptual and detailed design,” said Walter Konon, chairman of the Civil Engineering Department. “He has shown outstanding leadership and is heavily involved in activities at NCE.”
Last summer Britain worked as an intern for Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineering, in Manhattan. The firm’s work includes soil and rock studies, foundations and geotechnical engineering -- Britain’s favorite specialty of civil engineering -- and his future field.
For he’s applied to study geotechnical engineering at some of the nation’s top graduate programs, including the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Texas-Austin and Virginia Tech. He’s been accepted at all three, and is now visiting the campuses and deciding which school to attend.
Once he finishes graduate school, his background in economics will help him understand the business of engineering. And his years at NJIT have given him an invaluable background in civil engineering -- the field he came to love best.
He’s grateful for that.
“The professors in the Civil Engineering Department here have been great and I’ve learned so much from them,” said Britain. “And all the competitions and teams I’ve been involved with have also been great experiences, allowing me to learn much more than I could have from just from the classroom. I’m grateful to have worked with some amazing people, both students and professors at NJIT, and I’m grateful to all of them.”
(by Robert Florida, University Web Services)