Where are you from?
Why did you choose UB?
Funnily enough, I originally chose UB because I wanted to study Aerospace Engineering here. Since I was 5 years old, I had wanted to study Aerospace Engineering because space shuttles, rockets and everything about traveling to space fascinated me. Once I started school at UB and looked at some of the jobs that Aerospace Engineers typically hold, I realized that Aerospace Engineers aren't usually the ones who travel to the moon, they're the ones who stay up all night with their project teams ensuring that the astronauts get there safely. Meanwhile I was also in the EAS 199 career module where I discovered Industrial Engineering. Looking at their 4-year plan, I immediately knew I would have a blast studying these subjects. I still enjoy flying, skydiving and other fast and fun things in the sky, but the science behind it was not for me. I switched to Industrial Engineering in Fall 2016 and it has been an amazing journey so far.
What do you like most about engineering at UB?
I love how open and helpful the professors in my department are! For example, my Operations Research I (IE 373) professor Jose Walteros has never been known to turn anyone away if they have a question about the subject material. He once enthusiastically spent half an hour explaining something to me and my friend when we stopped by his office at 7 PM. He wasn't even holding office hours at said time, but was always willing to help.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
I chose to go into engineering by a combination of my engineer dad's influence and my passion for machines.
What is your favorite place on campus?
Governors Residence Hall, where I’ve now lived for three years and been an RA for two. I moved into Governors as a terrified international freshman who didn't know a single person in the entire state of New York. I have made many friendships and been on the receiving end of much kindness in this building, making it close to my heart!
What are you working on now?
I am a Manufacturing intern at IIMAK where I am working on data analysis and cost-benefit analysis.
I am also working on a paper that studies the effectiveness of prescribed fires in the US. My research group does a lot of research on fires/ wildfires which is how I chanced upon prescribed fires. Simply put, prescribed fires are controlled fires lit by various agencies, usually run by the government. Their purpose is to clear the forest of debris/ dead fuel, which is known to make wildfires less intense as dead fuel helps a wildfire ignite and spread explosively. It sounds counter-intuitive but if done properly and efficiently, the theory is that prescribed fires can prevent wildfires from being as intense as they have been in recent years.
What else do you do on campus?
I am a second year RA and a member of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering. I also work at the School of Engineering Advisement Office and am a student leader for EAS 199/ EAS 202!
What have you done that you are most proud of?
I am most proud of my move to the US as a 17 year old. I grew up in Chennai, a city of 8 million people with temperatures usually ranging from 85 - 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Everyone in my neighborhood knew me, my family was well-respected and I had an amazing support group. When I moved to the US pursuing a better education, I had to start from scratch. I was dealing with terrible homesickness and 'country-sickness', falling sick frequently because my body had never experienced temperatures below 60 degrees and trying to understand the new social etiquette, while being a freshman. I considered giving up and moving back home multiple times. I am so glad I didn't and so very grateful for the delightful and supportive group of people I have been blessed to know and love at UB and in Buffalo. When I went to India in January 2019, my friends pointed out that I kept referring to Buffalo as home instead of complaining about how homesick I was, and I have never been filled with more pride and gratitude.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about Data Analysis and Operations Research. I think the world would be better if we made more decisions based on true data instead of what we hear or think is true.
What are your future plans?
I am hoping to get a PhD in Operations Research (OR) and Data Analytics which is a branch of Industrial Engineering, or work for a major consumer product manufacturer.
What is your advice to prospective engineering students?
College is a great opportunity to push your limits: Don't just try to be more extroverted and do research- instead, talk to people from places you've never heard of and ask to join research teams that you think are 'out of your league'- now is the time!
Esther Jose received a Frederick H. Thomas Memorial Scholarship and a 2019 Leaders in Excellence Scholarship from the UB Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association (UBEAA)..