Q&A with Anthony De Rango

Western provides the opportunity of a common first year. This gave me the free of experiencing all of the different streams of engineering before committing myself to a certain path.

Anthony De Rango

Third Year Civil Engineering and Ivey HBA


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What inspired you to choose engineering?

I was inspired to choose engineering because of the number of possibilities it can create. Not only in the sense that it opens doors in my future, but it also allows me to use my creativity and ingenuity. I always enjoyed and excelled in math and the sciences. I liked taking courses related to these subjects in high school, however, I was restricted to learning mostly theory. Engineering is all about taking your own ideas and then actually applying them in real life. It draws on both theoretical and practical thinking and I found that really enticing. I also enjoy working with other people to accomplish a task. I find it interesting how different people can come up with so many diverse solutions to solve the exact same problem. Engineering allows people to group together and tackle a task, which was another reason I was drawn to the field.

Ever since I was young, I have always been captivated by the systems that worked around me. From transportation networks and city structure to the phones in our pockets, we thrive on these systems to power our everyday life. As an engineer, not only can you learn to understand these mechanisms, you are able to use your creativity to build your own designs, or even enhance those that were created by others. This realization ultimately inspired me to become an engineer. 

Why did you choose Western Engineering?

After deciding to pursue engineering as an undergraduate degree, I looked at many different universities and programs in order to find what would best suit my wants and needs. For many reasons, Western Engineering stood out as my top choice. First of all, Western provides engineering students the opportunity of having a common first year. This gave me the freedom of experiencing all of the different streams of engineering before committing myself to a certain path. Although I already had an idea about a few of the branches that I was interested in, the common first year kept my options open. It also allowed me to discover new interests in some of the first-year courses that I never would have taken had I gone straight into a specific stream. Another good opportunity that Western offers is their combined degree programs with engineering and either Western Law or Business.

Getting a degree in engineering is very valuable in today’s workforce, however, being able to receive another undergraduate degree in a short period of time is an extremely unique opportunity. Especially for someone who was considering both engineering and business post-secondary programs, Western’s five-year dual degree program has made it possible for me to combine both of these interests in my studies. A third major factor that led me to choose Western Engineering was my experience when visiting the university when I was in high school. When walking around the campus and especially touring the engineering buildings, I was impressed, to say the least. From the many conversations I had with older students, and from the observations I made, I got a taste of the strong sense of community within Western Engineering. I also saw many workshops and facilities, many of them newly built or renovated, that were being actively used by students to accomplish their projects. It is definitely cool being able to use those same resources either for my classes or during extra-curricular activities. 

How do you manage school-related stress?

Many people say that engineering is a team sport. Ever since I have arrived here, I can understand why. There are many opportunities to meet new people within engineering and everyone I have talked to has been willing to work cooperatively. Being in a study group has really helped me stay on top of my work and has aided me whenever I have any questions about a certain lecture or project. It is also really nice to have friends that are experiencing the same course load as me. 

Can you talk about your experiential learning experiences?

I am in a co-op rotation program called the Transportation Career Development Program which is offered every spring to three first year Western Engineering students interested in civil engineering. As a part of this program, I have had the opportunity to spend three summers at three different companies in the transportation engineering industry: a contractor, a consulting company and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. It has been an amazing opportunity, especially since I am very interested in this field! So far, I have had a great experience with the program because it has given me insights into the industry while also giving me valuable experience I could not get from the classroom!

Can you talk about your extracurricular activities at Western?

Since first year, I have been heavily involved in Western Engineering’s Concrete Canoe Association, a design team that aims to build a canoe made out of concrete to race against other universities at national competitions. As ridiculous as that sounds, it is really fun! My sub-team focuses on designing the concrete mix of the canoe and it is really interesting to be able to apply what I am learning in civil engineering to the project.

I am also a mentor in the Ivey HBA mentorship program. The goal of the project is to connect current HBA students with first and second year students that are interested in attending Ivey Business School in their third year. I think this is a great resource for engineering students interested in Ivey. Being paired with an upper year engineering and Ivey dual-degree student is really helpful for first and second year engineering students to ask questions and seek guidance from someone who has been in their position. Finally, I have joined several intramural teams including ice hockey and innertube water polo. Intramurals have been a good way to spend time with friends and stay active.

Overall, extracurricular activities have contributed significantly to my experience at university. They help me destress from my academics and have allowed me to meet a lot of great people in the Western community!

What is your favourite quote?

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”