Where are you from?
I was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh but lived most of my life in Poughkeepsie, NY. I now reside in the Bronx borough of NYC.
Why did you choose UB?
I chose UB for its never-ending opportunities: its nationally ranked engineering program, the affordable price tag for an excellent education, its renowned Student Association and highly reputable student clubs, the brisk winter weather perfect for skiing and ice skating, its proximity to home but not too close where parents can make a sporadic visit, AND its persistent geese population that always leave gifts on the bottom of your shoes. UB provides its students with the quality of a large school but the feeling of a small, close-knit campus.
What do you like most about engineering at UB?
I thoroughly enjoy the family-like feel of all engineering students at UB. Coming into college I was extremely nervous about not succeeding in engineering, but UB eased those doubts by providing abundant opportunities for connection such as the engineering first year interest floor, similar schedules for students in related disciplines, small group tutoring sessions, Engineer Alley tailgates, and clubs and organizations such as my very own American Society for Engineers (ASCE) and Theta Tau, the fraternity for engineers. Consistently seeing these familiar faces makes you realize that you're in the same boat as many other students. It fosters strong bonds and helping one another, which is the surefire way to enjoy and succeed during your time as an engineering student.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
I chose to pursue engineering partially for the same reason that every engineering student says: "I excelled in math and science in high school." For me, the other part of the answer is that I’ve always had a keen interest in urban structures. Ever since moving to New York, I've been fascinated by skyscrapers, overlapping highways, and suspension bridges. I've also gained interest (and concern) in our changing environment, sustainability, and natural disasters. As civil engineers, the work we accomplish is quite tangible and rewarding to our community, and in return, ourselves. As America’s infrastructure is quite outdated, it’s empowering to know that my work directly benefits our country’s economy and built environment.
What is your favorite place on campus?
My favorite place on campus is the one and only Bert's. There’s nothing like grabbing chicken finger subs or falafel in between classes with your best buds.
What are you working on right now?
After having completed a winter internship on the West Coast, I am currently embarking on my final semester of college of my graduate program. My goals for this semester are to not only excel in my final courses, but to also achieve personal accomplishments such as running the Buffalo Marathon (COVID-permitting), creating a nightly habit of reading rather than Netflix, allowing for free time to enjoy my final months in Buffalo with friends, and to plan a summer road trip full of national parks, monuments, and all that our great lands have to offer.
What else do you do on campus?
I have been actively involved in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) throughout my undergraduate years, where I held positions of community service chair, vice president, and concrete canoe mix design leader. My involvement within ASCE has equipped me with skills outside of the classroom such as leadership, time management, teamwork, and practical engineering. Now, as a graduate advisor, I get the privilege of ensuring that younger members receive the same opportunities and develop into well rounded engineers through ASCE.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
As cliché as it may sound, I think simply making it this far in life has been a prominent feat. The odds haven’t quite been in my favor, ever since birth. From a small village in Bangladesh, my parents made the executive decision to immigrate to the United States with hopes of a better standard of life through education. It was a tough childhood balancing a family culture of tradition with the progressive culture here in the states. I often felt out-of-place among my peers, with no sense of belonging. Alas, as a soon to be college graduate, I take pride in overcoming adversity and standing alongside my peers, ready to make change in a country where I never was intended to be in the first place. In fact, the pride is more reflective on my parents, rather than myself. They were the ones who sacrificed everything in order to bring my brother and I to where we are today.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about the beautiful outdoors and an active lifestyle. Since COVID-19 began, I have found my physical activities to be a stress reliever from the everyday motions of indoor work, school, and entertainment. Some of my current and future feats are completing the Adirondack 46 High Peak hikes, running a sub 4-hour marathon (after recently completing a half-marathon), skiing the Colorado Aspen mountains, and visiting at least 10 National Parks in 2021.
What are your future plans?
Directly after school, I plan to empty my bank account by travelling. I have yet to explore Europe or Australia which are on my bucket list, but the US may be most probable with the current world’s state. Afterwards, I should be moving back in with my parents and finally devouring my mom’s cooking again. I’ll then be piloting my career as a structural engineer in the greater NYC area, with my biggest goal of becoming a licensed Professional Engineer in 2024. Lastly, I plan to become more engaged within my civic community, specifically for infrastructure related issues. As a civil engineer, there’s no one in a more suitable position to advocate to our government the need for more investment towards our built environment.
What is your advice to prospective engineering students?
Don't take your years of college for granted. Immerse yourself in everything and anything. Coming from someone who spends a majority of his free time at Capen Library, be open to all opportunities. Hesitant about attending that first club meeting? Go for it. Terrified about taking that mandatory class? You got it. Nervous about going out with a new group of friends? Try it. Before you know it, time will fly by and the last thing you want is regret for passing up the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities offered in college.
Wakil Pranto received a scholarship from the Richard E. Garman Endowment Fund and the Leaders in Excellence Scholarship from the UB Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association (UBEAA) in 2019 and 2020.