The Faces of the First-Year Class

College is a time of great transition for any student, but the current Drexel first-year class, the road has been unique. Most spent their final years of high school in remote or hybrid environments, and they arrived on campus last fall not only attending college for the first time, but attending classes in person for the first time in a long while. But if any class is prepared, it’s this one.

The Class of 2025 and 2026 comes from a wider variety of places and circumstances of any in College of Engineering history. The 403-person class hail from 23 different states, the District of Columbia, and 32 different countries. Twenty-six percent of the class are female identifying, 11.4% are Black, and 7.7% are Latinx, all the highest representation in the College’s history. The most popular majors among the class are mechanical engineering, (115 students), computer engineering (53 students) and chemical engineering (47 students),

Four members of the Class of 2026 reflect on what brought them to Drexel and how they have adjusted to life in college.

Justin Casey
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Computer Engineering

Justin Casey
Justin Casey

How did you wind up choosing Drexel?

I always had interest in computers since I was young, and I have a cousin who’s an engineer, so that sort of nudged me in that direction. I always knew Drexel’s reputation for having a great engineering program, but I especially started to look at Drexel when I did a couple of internships in high school and met some Drexel alums who spoke highly of the University.

Tell us about the DELTA program.

During the summer, I was looking for a way to be productive, and I realized that Drexel was recruiting for DELTA. I saw that you could meet people in your major and spend two weeks getting a sense of the coursework — kind of ramping you up for college. It was a great program; we were sent solar car kits and we learned different aspects of engineering that all went into building the car at the end.

What is one of the biggest things you've learned so far?

It’s not anything to do with any specific part of engineering. I learned a work ethic that I didn’t have in high school. You can’t put things off. You need to work hard, but you also don’t need to be afraid to ask for help. The A4E (Advising for Engineers) is a great resource, and there is subject-specific tutoring help available, like the Math Resource Center in Korman.

Emily Thompson
Wexford, Pennsylvania
Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics

Emily Thompson
Emily Thompson

How did you come to be interested in engineering?

All throughout high school, I found myself enjoying my math and science classes the most. My teachers were always supportive and helped me when I needed it. Around junior year when I was starting to consider my major, everyone I talked to said that engineering would be a good way to integrate math and science while also applying concepts from both to real world problems.  When I first looked into engineering, there were so many options to choose from. This led me to picking undecided engineering for my major while applying; it's hard to make that sort of decision when you've barely been exposed to each of the other disciplines. Fortunately, thanks to the help of freshman peers, upperclassmen, and professors, I was able to investigate the different engineering disciplines more closely and ultimately landed on mechanical.

What’s something memorable that you learned in your first two terms, inside the classroom or out?

I have found that my programming for engineers class, ENGR 132, is a good balance of difficult and rewarding. I have some prior coding experience with other languages, but it's fun to understand the differences and learn new concepts in Python. The class has me thinking about problems in a unique way — and while this can be difficult to wrap my head around, I still find it super satisfying to find the solution and run a smooth program.

I also learned that finding a good group of friends to help support you does wonders for your college experience. My friends have always been there for me — whether it be studying for midterms or meeting up at Urban for dinner, they always have my back. They are my cheerleading squad when something great happens and my rock when things go bad. I know that to find success in college, you need to have a support system of true friends and allies that will give that desperately needed push in the right direction.

Ibrahim Abdulwahab
Ilorin, Nigeria
Electrical Engineering

Ibrahim Abdulwahab
Ibrahim Abdulwahab

When did you know that you wanted to be an engineer?

As a kid, I always loved playing with remote-controlled helicopters. Sometimes they would break and I'd try to fix them back up. Even though I didn't know what I was doing. I would just connect wires and see whether it worked. So trying to fix those toys got me interested in engineering.

How have you adjusted to the pace of your classes at Drexel?

First of all, ENG 111 was a nice class for me. The labs, in particular were great because the mousetrap cars, the bridge test and the Arduino project, were a mix and match of all the different scopes that engineers have. The parts that interested me the most were in my field of electrical engineering, so it showed that, okay, I am where I want to be. As far as the pace of  are concerned, it’s quite an experience. You’re presented with a challenge right away, and that tells you that it’s time to buckle up and keep on moving. It gets you ready for what’s ahead.

Claudia Valencia
Cusco, Peru
Business and Engineering

Claudia Valencia
Claudia Valencia

What drew you to Drexel when you were looking at colleges?

I wanted to have a flexible education, and I wanted to have an international experience, so I started looking for schools in the United States. One thing that stood out about Drexel was the co-op program. I was excited about the chance to actually work and put what I was learning to use while I was still in school.

What did you learn in your first two terms that you will take with you into your further studies?

The ENG 111 class is great, because you experiment with so many different types of engineering. I think it teaches you how to have an engineering mindset and different ways of solving problems. Even if I decide to continue my career in business, later on, I’d have that ability to work with different types of people and different tools more easily.

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