//20 minutes with Dr. David Washington

20 minutes with Dr. David Washington

What is your role here at NJIT?

My role as faculty is in the Newark College of Engineering, dually appointed with the Civil Engineering and Engineering Technology departments. My discipline is in construction. I also specialize in geotechnical engineering and pavements.

What are some of your hobbies and non-academic interests?

I like to do activities with my son – like fixing iPhones and electronic gadgets. I also do some auto-mechanics, swimming, and long distance running, to name a few.

You studied abroad as part of your graduate education, what was the experience like for you?

Yes, I was an exchange student for my PhD program from NIJT to about three schools. INSA (Institut National des Sciences Appliquées), École Centrale de Lyon, and Normale Superior – all of these located in Lyon, France. It was fun. I was there off and on for three years, but sometimes it was challenging. There were some embarrassing cases where I could not speak their language properly and I took too much food in the cafeteria and got in trouble.

So you got your PhD at NJIT?

Yes.

How did you get involved with the school?

I was told by my advisor/mentor at Manhattan College to come to NJIT because it was a great school.

So you attended Manhattan College as well?`

Yes, it’s where I did my Masters.

Where did you pursue your undergraduate education?

Columbia University.

At NJIT, what are your favorite classes to teach, and why do you like them?

I like to teach structural systems and environmental science. Structural systems gives students a good hands on experience with working with timber and a little bit of masonry. We get to go to the union shop and take a look at how things are constructed. And with environmental science – it has a personal touch because it deals with a lot of environmental impacts – as students, personally, with their personal lives, as well as the impact of construction on the environment and how we can protect our environment.

How do you hope your students would describe you?

Well, I want my students to know me as a humorous teacher, but also as a very technical and informative teacher. I would like them to appreciate their knowledge that is relevant to their future career goals and how I can advise them towards achieving the goals that they want in construction.

What piece of advice do you have for students interested in going on for their master’s education?

If they are going for their masters, I think they should sit with the advisor for the program that they are interested in, especially since there are so many disciplines that they can get involved with. I also advise them to do a little bit of work so they can get a feel of what disciplines of the field that they would be most valuable in, and also give them a better idea of which program to choose from for their masters. I also encourage them, [engineering students], to take their PE (Professional Engineering) license and be certified in some skill area, as industry recognized certification or license will be very good for them to have.

What advice do you have for students in general?

Always find a good mentor. Always have a three to five year career plan to work off of. Never wait until the last minute to prepare applications or resumes. Interview people. Always try to get as much exposure in the industry while you’re not married and do not have the responsibilities and pressures that adulthood would give you.

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