Azzurra Pedrotti (‘16)
International Alumni Profiles
Degree: M.S. in Civil Engineering
Native Country: Italy
Why NYU Tandon?
I earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in building engineering in Rome, and I wanted additional experience; New York City, I knew, would be the best place to get it because of all the opportunities there. I applied only to NYU because of its location and name recognition.
Because the study of civil engineering is broader and more inclusive in the U.S., there were courses that I was missing. That meant that while I was studying for my second master’s degree I had to concurrently take certain undergraduate courses to make up for gaps in my knowledge. I didn’t mind though, because that gave me a chance to study with professors like Anne Ronan, who is one of the most inspiring teachers I’ve ever met.
Was it hard adjusting once you arrived?
I had previously lived in the U.S. as an exchange student during my years in high school. We lived in a small town named Beaver Dam in Wisconsin. Initially, it was quite a culture shock. However, it turned into a wonderful experience. The father of the family worked as a mechanical engineer for John Deere and was able to help me with my math courses. I remained very close to them, and they even helped me with my NYU application. All that is to say that I was already somewhat comfortable living in America when I arrived at NYU.
In addition to a generous merit-based scholarship from NYU, I had a scholarship from the Honor Center of the Italian Universities which provided me with housing. (I loved the building in Battery Park City so much that once I graduated, I leased an apartment there.)
What has your career been like?
Everyone in the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering has ties to industry, and Professors Lawrence Chiarelli and Bud Griffis were very generous in bringing students to networking events. They would explain that I had been a summa cum laude graduate in Italy and was earning a 4.0 GPA at NYU. Quite often I would come home with an entire stack of business cards and multiple invitations to send in my resume.
At one particular event, Professor Griffis and Professor Chiarelli introduced me to Mr. Gus Maimis, Senior Vice President and Northeast Territory Manager at STV Construction. Professor Griffis, after a brief introduction, mentioned to him that if he didn’t hire me he would always regret it. They both suggested that if I was to receive an offer from STV, I should accept it regardless of offers I might receive from other firms. They both felt STV would be an ideal place for me to start my career and grow professionally.
Subsequently, I did receive an offer and as suggested by professors Griffis and Chiarelli, I decided to accept it. I’m currently a project officer and civil engineering specialist. Our client is the NYC Economic Development Corporation, and I’m working on a $1.7 billion capital construction program funded by FEMA to upgrade given the damage sustained by Hurricane Sandy and protect from future storms four hospitals: Coler, Metropolitan, Coney Island, and Bellevue.
Professor Griffis, not surprising, was right; STV is a terrific place for a young engineer to grow. Our CM leadership STV provided me with the necessary guidance and support towards achieving both my short- and long-term goals. I was recently appointed to one of the firm’s Innovation Task Forces, an opportunity not typically afforded to someone just starting out with most firms.
I can’t say enough about the department and all of my professors. I still consider them my mentors. I could also point to specific classes like scheduling, because if there’s one thing you learn as a civil engineer, it’s that projects have to be completed on time and on budget.
I worked as a graduate teaching assistant for several classes, including Contracts & Documents for Construction and Cost Estimating, and I helped with an analysis Professor Griffis was conducting of the comparative internal costs of private construction firms versus the Department of Transportation. All those were great learning experiences too.
Tandon didn’t just prepare me for ‘career success.’ It’s much bigger than that. They helped me find my dream job in my dream city, and I even have a dream apartment within walking distance to work… until the next project!