Carmen Bland Jr.

Computer Science & Engineering
Degree pursuing: BS in computer engineering
Hometown: Trenton, New Jersey

Why did you decide to study engineering?
I fell in love with my engineering coursework in high school, which was provided by Project Lead the Way (PTLW). I also had experience troubleshooting and tinkering with computers as a child, so I thought I should study computer science.

Why did you pick WashU?
I first learned of the Dual Degree engineering program during my first year of college and decided to enroll in the program in order to matriculate to Notre Dame. A year later, I decided to go to WashU instead, which ended up having many perks Notre Dame did not. Not only was it cheaper, WashU also provided a straightforward way to obtain housing and offered a master's track for an additional year of study.

Who is your favorite instructor and why?
Tsitsi Nussinov, PhD, as her class was one of the reasons I enjoyed working with circuits and eventually took an interest in semiconductors in subsequent semesters. It was also wonderful to see a faculty member of color in the same field of engineering I was pursuing, as she was the first Black teacher I've had in five years. Aside from academics, she was also the first teacher at WashU who I would speak with and get advice from in an informal setting.

What advice would you give to a new student?
I would advise them to be active in extracurricular activities (clubs, hobbies, etc.). It is no secret that WashU can be tough academically so having an outlet to de-stress after a long day is essential. In addition, you never know what opportunities may arise from attending or participating in a club or event.

What is your favorite thing about St. Louis?
I love the multitude of food spots available in the city and county. During the summer while doing research, I had the chance to further explore and be amazed by the food scene around the city.

What campus activities or groups would you recommend to a new student?
For incoming engineers, I would recommend Engineering Without Borders, Design/Build/Fly and WU Racing. Generally, there are many affinity groups on campus. Personally, I attend the Caribbean-American Students Association and Association of Black Students for events tailored to Black and Caribbean students.

Also, in McKelvey Engineering there are ceremonies for professors who receive some sort of award or new position. These are great opportunities to see their work and network during the reception.

What are your plans for the future?
I’m looking to pursue hardware engineering as a career, whether it be in the private or public sector. I also wish to intertwine social justice with the engineering competencies that I've learned in school and industry.