Amber Miller: Class of 2012
Major: Civil engineering
From: Grand Terrace
Post-Graduation Plans: Full-time field engineer for Turner Construction
How did you decide on civil engineering?
My grandfather is a civil engineer. My uncle is a civil engineer. So naturally I didn't want to be a civil engineer at all; I wanted to be a chemical engineer. I got an internship with AEI-CASC Consulting right before I came to college and I realized I really loved civil engineering. I decided to go into civil engineering after all.
How was your Cal Poly Pomona experience?
It is the best experience I could have asked for. I am a completely different person today than when I first entered Cal Poly Pomona. I was very shy and not outgoing, I stayed to myself. Through activities and clubs, they forced me to break my mold. I met really amazing people. Then one thing led to another and now I'm graduating, I have a full time job, and I've traveled the country.
Most universities don't have labs. I love our hands-on labs and the fact that most of our labs are taught by part-time professors. These are professors that have a full-time job; they teach the practical engineering aspects. They'll say, "You can read the book, but here's what we really do in industry."
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Last year, I worked with a group of 20 other Cal Poly Pomona students outside of school to design and implement three projects in La Parroja, Costa Rica. We designed three projects with the guidance of Dr. Palomo. La Parroja is a small community in the rainforest.
We constructed two bridges, installed solar panels, upgraded their water distribution system and installed a slow sand filtration system. We were only planning to build one bridge, but when we got there, the bridge we had designed was the minor issue compared to another bridge. It spanned 22 feet and during the high rain season, water would rise to your waist, creating a very dangerous situation. We had to demolish most of it and using scrap pieces of lumber, we retrofitted the bridge to make it safe.
Their water system came directly from the streams through a series of outdated pipes which would become jammed with rocks. We installed PVC pipes and a sand filtration system. It's a very low-tech way to filter water using various aggregate and sand to filter the water.
It was the most amazing experience and I think about the trip every day.
What's it like being a woman in engineering?
Here at Cal Poly Pomona, women are accepted in engineering. The faculty and peers look at your ability, not your gender. However, it is not out of the ordinary for me to be one out of two women in the entire class. It's become the norm.
What advice would you give to new students?
Find a mentor. I worked with the Maximizing Engineering Potential program as a mentor for two years. They have a great program for incoming freshmen. Mentors teach you how to register, tell you the teachers you should take, the ones you shouldn't take. They absolutely help you.
Also, find extracurricular activities. They give you a break. They will make you into a well-rounded person. It's really easy to burn out in college, and these activities give you a stress reliever.
Awards, Accolades & Campus Involvement
Vice president of student affairs for Society of Women Engineers (SWE)
Vice president of external affairs for SWE
Corporate Relations for SWE
Engineers Without Borders
Tau Beta Pi (engineering honors society)
Young Leaders in Engineering Scholarship Recipient
During Commencement season, PolyCentric will highlight outstanding graduates from the Class of 2012. Nominated by faculty and staff, these students have stories of perseverance, creativity, academic excellence and a commitment to serve the community. They will share their triumphs, challenges, college experience and how their Cal Poly Pomona education has changed their lives.