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Aliandro Brathwaite, E14

Aliandro Brathwaite is an Engineer-in-Training currently working at Skanska USA Civil Northeast Inc. in Waltham, MA. He graduated as a member of the first cohort of the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program in 2014 with a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering. At Skanska, he works in design management with an emphasis on Building Information Modeling and CAD software specialization. Aliandro currently is a member of the Center for STEM Diversity's External Advisory Board.

How did the BEST program help and/or support you throughout undergrad?
The BEST program was a guiding light while navigating the rigors of the engineering curriculum at Tufts. The program encouraged me to use resources available to students, and provided a close-knit community for me to study with and to collectively achieve the goal of attaining a degree at Tufts.

What is one skill or technique that you've taken from Tufts that you've applied to your current position?
When I feel it is necessary, I always ask for help on any project that I am working on. Prior to the program, I perceived asking for help as a sign of weakness. However, even the best need guidance during times when things may not go as planned. BEST taught me that asking for help should never be discouraged.

What is one CSD/BEST event that you remember vividly to this day?
I remember the day we went to the Museum of Science near the Charles River. That day we convinced, our then director, Travis Brown to let us go on a duck boat tour directly after visiting the museum. That tour was one of the highlights of my introduction to the city of Boston, and I was so happy that Travis agreed to let us go for free!

Being in the first cohort, what words of wisdom do you have for the incoming BESTies of cohort 7?
To the new incoming BESTies: the groundwork has been laid for you. We went through a lot of initial programs and activities that have now been changed to better fit the profile of an incoming freshman. I would say to take advantage of the opportunities the BEST program will afford you. Don’t be afraid to venture to Darryl or Kristin for any help or advice. During the school year: as an engineer, make sure you don't sign up for too many activities at the activities fair. Find a few to focus on so you still have time for your work. And if you're ever studying late at night and are hungry, order from Helen's on Boston Ave. Best of luck!

As a new member of the CSD EAB, what insight do you hope to bring to the programs?
I hope to bring the experience of jumping directly from the BEST program into the working world to the leaders of BEST as well as to the future graduates. I want to be a liaison for anyone who is looking to take the path that I did and provide real-life support and examples for life directly after college for soon-to-be graduates of the BEST program. It can be a drastic and unexpected shift. I believe I can temper that shock through being on the board.

Describe BEST in one word.
Ohana, meaning family.

What was one challenge in undergrad you remember specifically and how did you grow from it?
I remember not being very good at the intro to CAD class when it was required for all engineering students. My final project was okay, but not up to my best ability. I stayed away from CAD after I took that class until I went to a networking event a year later. I met a contact who informed me that CAD was becoming an increasingly useful skill in Civil Engineering. I decided to take a risk and take the intermediate CAD class the next semester. My final class as a senior at Tufts ended up being the advanced CAD class. I decided to work on my skills by taking classes to improve them. Now, CAD is my day-to-day job. I learned that some abilities can be improved by simply working on them until you get better. Every day at my job, I get better at the modeling I do.

So what is life like really as a working professional?
It is a stark contrast from college. It is nice getting a pay check! Reality then sets in when taxes, retirement funds and student loan payments come out. You have the ability to set a nice schedule for yourself where you leave work behind at 5 PM every day. Also, you have the ability to try new hobbies or social events on the weekends. However, one of the great parts is being able to take days off and not have to worry about any work or problem sets to do. It has its highs and lows but you can make those highs an ever-increasing zenith filled with things you never thought you would do before (yes, that occurs even outside of college too)!

What's next for you! (Career wise or fun wise - any fun trips planned?)
I believe I will stay in Boston for the foreseeable future and continue working at Skanska. I would like to evaluate whether or not to return to graduate school in about two years. This summer I am planning on visiting Montréal for my first visit to Canada in 21 years. As a newly certified instructor, I'm also hoping to find a location to teach Zumba. The possibilities are, literally, endless!