Carnegie Mellon University

Two Undergraduates Choose IMB Program

When Jennifer Martinez and Brittani Grant, who were undergraduate students in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, started to choose where they wanted to complete a graduate degree, the choice seemed pretty obvious. Between the familiariaty of the department and, most importantly, the strength of the program, applying for the IMB proram made sense for their career goals. 

“I already know everybody here — I’m very comfortable with the faculty and staff; I’ve learned a lot, I know the place,” Jessica said. That’s part of the reason why both students decided to apply to the department’s integrated BS/MS program, with Jennifer pursuing a master’s in environmental engineering and Brittani completing a degree in civil engineering.  Agreeing, Brittani said, “This is a very good program, it’s well-represented, and I didn’t feel I would have to give anything up to stay here.”

Mid-way through their program they felt the difference in focus and rigor as graduate students. “I definitely think graduate school is more theoretical than undergraduate was,” Jennifer said. Brittani agreed: “It’s starting to become more high-level.”

The types of courses differ as well. “We don’t have any laboratory courses,” Brittani explained. “We do projects, so we do do a lot of hands-on work, but it’s not exactly the same as doing a lab course.”

They both, however, appreciate the independence and flexibility of the program. “As an undergrad, there’s a bit of hand-holding,” Jennifer explained. “Grad school is more independent. If I need something, I go to my adviser.”

“The other good thing about our grad program is that it doesn’t have a core curriculum, so we don’t have a set list of courses we have to take,” Brittani said. Graduate students need to fulfill a certain number of credits, but otherwise, the course selection is entirely up to them.

“I’m in the environmental master’s program, but if I decided, ‘this semester I want to take structural analysis,’ they’d say, ‘okay, go right ahead,’” Jennifer explained. “You choose your own direction.”

“We can take classes that cater to what we’re interested in,” Brittani said. “I’m getting exactly what I wanted.”