Kris Melag

Kris Melag
Major: Civil Engineering
Class Year: 2024
Hometown: Devon, PA

When or how did you become interested in engineering?

I grew up wanting to become a software engineer. I liked math and science but I became interested in pursuing civil engineering because I want to help make the world a better place. I truly believe we can build a better tomorrow as long as we collectively work together to achieve it as an engineering community.

When you were looking at colleges, what made Drexel stand out?

When I was looking at Drexel, there were many reasons why Drexel stood out. One thing I will say is the integration of real-world experience and classroom learning is exceptional here at Drexel. You don’t get that anywhere else! In addition, Drexel has an amazing sense of identity and community. Not only have I managed to find my identity as an engineering student, but as a leader in professional organizations and an aspiring professional engineer when gaining real world experience. When finding my community here at Drexel, I discovered a part of myself that I did not think was possible. It goes on to show that if you step outside of your comfort zone, the results will amaze you!

How did you connect with other students once you arrived at Drexel?

As a freshman, I took great advantage of Welcome Week. Growing up, I was never really much of a social student but to succeed in the professional world, I knew I had to step outside my comfort zone and connect with my fellow students and professors. I’d say Drexel does a very great job in terms of preparing you for the world of academia and luckily, the relationships you make here at Drexel will help carry you far from the time you are a freshman until the end of senior year and even beyond graduation!

Why did you decide to focus on your particular major?

I joined Drexel as a software engineering major but I focused into civil engineering instead because there was an aspect to civil that involves “helping your community” and the “hands on experience.” I like to see tangible results of my engineering efforts. For example, to see a building I helped construct benefitting the community and encouraging unity, that is why I chose this field. My goal in engineering is to use my engineering skills to bring the community together and to ensure a better living for everyone.

Tell us about one of your co-ops and how it helped you.

I started my first co-op with T.N. Ward Company. I was a Construction Project Engineer. I would say this co-op helped me to realize that I was in the right field and showed me I was capable of Project Management. I am a technical person but I feel greater joy when I can talk to people and help resolve issues with them. When getting experience in several facets of construction, and also pursuing a co-op with Traffic, Planning & Design, it told me one thing. I was made for construction, not design. I cannot express enough of how it is important for students to pursue various fields in their engineering major because then you will know what you like vs. what you do not like. Both are equally important.

Talk about your favorite or most interesting class.

My favorite class here at Drexel was CIVE 320 Fluid Flow. I had Dr. Capps and she truly is an amazing professor and mentor. I liked her class because she emphasized the importance of learning through real world applications. We had this term long project where we applied fluid mechanics concepts to our real-world design project. Real World Based Application Learning is something I personally believes helps students to learn. To learn the different types of fluid behavior, hydrostatic pressure, Bernoulli applications, etc., it was truly an exciting experience and if I could relive it all over again, I would. Despite Fluid Mechanics not being related too much to my field, it was a fun field to learn.

What first-hand learning experiences have you enjoyed most?

Before I came to Drexel as an undergrad freshman, I actually got some internship experience with Drexel’s Theoretical and Applied Mechanics Group of the MEM Dept. Drexel does a fantastic job with allowing students to gain first-hand experience whether it is in research or co-op. I have seen both sides of the spectrum and both have helped find my place in engineering. When I started out as a first-time co-op, I started out with a wide spectrum and applied to many jobs as I could. During co-op, the best advice: ask questions and get involved. When you take initiative for your professional career, the results will show. I have come across many excellent companies through the power of networking. Whether it is Co-Op 101 or your actual co-op, Drexel will go a long way to ensure you succeed in your professional career.

What extracurricular groups are you in and what value do they bring to students?

I am currently the President of The American Society of Civil Engineers and Secretary of Tau Beta Pi, an Engineering Honors Society here at Drexel. I also am working to rebuild the Concrete Canoe Team here at Drexel. These organizations bring value to students because no matter what organization you are in, we all have a common purpose: to serve and empower the students. In all my organizations, we offer professional development (resume reviews, mock interviews, job interview tips and best practices), social events (to encourage students to interact and build their professional network), and academic events (to ensure every student has the resources they need to succeed in their academics as well as their professional career).

I encourage students coming to Drexel to get involved from the start. Getting good grades is important but companies love to see a well-rounded student who is involved in their university and excelling in their personal, academic, and professional goals.

How does living and working in Philadelphia benefit your experience?

I am actually a commuter. I have been commuting from Devon since freshman year (excluding the COVID-19 pandemic). But fun fact about me: I never actually been to Philadelphia prior to coming to Drexel. I am from the suburbs so when I came for my first college visit to Drexel, I could not see myself coming here. I simply was not a city person.

But over time, living and working in Philadelphia, I got to see a new side of Philadelphia and the experience is truly amazing. When I think of Philadelphia, I think of the sense of community here. Becoming a part of Philadelphia taught me that as an engineer, you need to think outside the box. Philadelphia is my playground and the analogy here is that you can never dream too big.

What is your favorite part about your Drexel experience so far?

Finding my community. In the last 4 years here at Drexel, I have met many students and I just love to meet new people and build new friendships. Getting to meet students who are talented and filled with spirit, it makes me happy to be on this journey with them.