OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

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Graduate Student Spotlight: Monica Morales

Monica Morales, a first-generation college student who completed her graduate degree with a focus on infrastructure materials, recently discussed what led her to OSU, her research, and why she loved living in the Pacific Northwest.

AS A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT, HOW DID YOU CHOOSE TO ATTEND OSU?

I’m originally from Reno and I wanted to find something new. I have always loved the Pacific Northwest so applied to several schools in the area. I made a visit to Oregon State - it was my first visit - and I fell in love with it. OSU seemed more welcoming than other schools I visited, which was important as a first-generation college student. 

HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THE FIELD OF CIVIL ENGINEERING?

Growing up, I did not know what I wanted to do. My mother pointed out I was really good at math and science and that I should look into engineering. I looked at various career paths where math and science were core strengths, everything from being a doctor to becoming a fashion designer. Looking at all of the different fields, civil engineering seemed the most impactful to me. Buildings, bridges, roads, and water are all essentials to society and It felt like I would have the chance to really serve the public and I still feel that way. It is great. 

YOU REMAINED AT OSU TO PURSUE A GRADUATE DEGREE, WHAT WAS YOUR FOCUS AREA?

My graduate focus area was in infrastructure materials, with a minor in water resources engineering. During my time as an undergrad, I got involved with Concrete Canoe and was a co-captain when we went to nationals. I also did undergrad research with Dr. Jason Ideker because he works in sustainable materials. Through internship programs, I really enjoyed my work with water and environmental issues. Through the two paths I became interested in issues such as corrosion and durability of materials, especially as they relate to water resources issues. I felt I could combine the two and completed my studies with Dr. Burkan Isgor. 

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR RECENT RESEARCH PROJECT.

We assessed the durability of reinforced concrete. Inspectors use surface resistivity measurements on reinforced structures and we used the same probe to see how cracks, corrosion, and delimitation effect those readings. By doing this, we can give better consulting advice to accurately assess the lifespan of a reinforced structures. It is a tool that will really help the inspectors. It was a great study because it is going to be put to use in real world scenarios.

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?

I plan to go into consulting in the area of water resources engineering. I feel like the corrosion and materials education at OSU has given me an edge.

WHAT DID YOU ENJOY ABOUT CORVALLIS AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST?

It was amazing. It is so clean, green, and you can ride your bike everywhere. Corvallis is a tremendous community where you can feel safe and still have plenty to do. I love it here.

 

Learn more about the School of Civil and Construction Engineering graduate studies in Infrastructure Materials