Alumni Profile

Steven Coffed

Student Leader: Kalli Haverkamp

Engineering school is not always easy...but it is fun to look back and realize that the hard work paid off. Every year after college just gets better and better as you use the strong foundation that UB engineering provided you to continue to grow and grow."

What did serving as a Student Leader mean to you? What motivated you to participate?

Every time I ask engineers about their education, I find that there's a shared experience of intimidation in the first few months. Even the smartest students have a hard time adjusting to an environment that doesn't have answers at the back of the textbook. While they may have the best intentions, the professors at a school as large as UB can seem distant and disconnected, and often they are focused on research or have experience in a narrow discipline. Their expertise are important, but equally if not more important is for students to understand the full breadth of possibilities ahead of them. The "C" student who knows how to repair engines is just as valuable in engineering as the book smart "A" student who has never picked up a tool.

As a new student I felt this intimidation from the sheer variety of opportunities and decisions ahead of me. Over time I succeeded - and failed - on a variety of teams and projects in both academia and industry. Fortunately, I found my niche and have continued to grow after graduating, but this didn't come without many misgivings. Unfortunately, I saw some if not many of my peers drop out of engineering because of these misconceptions that their weaknesses in one area outweighed their strengths in others.

Serving as a Student Leader meant convincing them otherwise. Given UB Engineering's large size, it is especially important that these young engineers have somebody to counsel them on this shared difficult experience and show them the right mindset to navigate engineering's exceptionally difficult yet rewarding challenges ahead.

A memory that remains with me from my Student Leader days is:
Something about the pizza at the end-of-semester review always tasted better than at any other time of year...

Any leaders you'd like to shout-out to?
All of them! Your work is invaluable.