San Francisco Bay area native Ryan Rusali was so impressed by the close interactions that students were having with faculty and staff when he toured Carnegie Mellon, that he unexpectedly changed his long-held plan to attend Georgia Tech.
“I saw that faculty really cared about their students, and it’s been exactly that for me,” said Rusali who earned his bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering and engineering and public policy in spring 2021 and returned to campus in fall 2021 to complete the integrated master’s/bachelor’s program.
“I admit that I had to seek help and set boundaries to handle the challenging courses, but it was possible because everyone was super welcoming and helpful,” said Rusali.
Peer tutoring got him through his tough introductory engineering courses and his professors proved to be as accessible as they appeared on that first visit to campus.
There’s a lot of support and a ton of opportunity here. I always tell underclass students, nerd out on anything you’re interested in. Don’t be the one who holds you back!Ryan Rusali, Student, College of Engineering
“There’s a lot of support and a ton of opportunity here. I always tell underclass students: nerd out on anything you’re interested in. Don’t be the one who holds you back!”
Rusali did just that. With limited access on campus to a piano—his primary musical pursuit—he asked to join the band. Even though he had no experience as a percussionist, the answer was yes. With the help of faculty and fellow students, Rusali learned to play drums and was in both the concert and marching bands for four years.
Having an outlet for activities he enjoyed and help when he needed it made it possible for Rusali to pursue some great academic opportunities as well. He was on the team that won best prototype in the Rethink the Rink competition to design helmets for the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team. He helped design a rainwater system that gathers, stores, and filters water on campus. And he worked on an interdisciplinary team to design an aquaponic system for plants and fish for his civil and environmental engineering senior design course.
“CMU is really a place to explore. People here are always willing to take you in!”
Top image: Ryan Rusali analyzes the strength of bamboo under varying moisture conditions for a civil engineering research project during his sophomore year.