The Charger Blog

Civil Engineering Grad Student Says Time as a Charger Has Been 'Transformative'

Whether he was attending career expos, conferences, or gaining real-world experience as an intern, Muritala Issa '24 M.S. has been building his skills and his network throughout his time as a Charger, fueling his passion to make a meaningful impact on the world through his career.

April 29, 2024

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Muritala Issa ’24 M.S. at the International Festival.
Muritala Issa ’24 M.S. (left) at the International Festival.

As a child, Muritala Issa '24 M.S. wandered through the streets in his home country of Nigeria, eyes wide with wonder. He was captivated by what he describes as the "magic of transforming a village into a modern town." He marveled at the construction sites that shaped the village's landscape at the time, transforming its future.

Issa describes civil engineering as more than his career path – it is his calling. The recipient of a National Merit Scholarship from the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, he pursued his passion for civil engineering as an undergraduate student at the University of Ilorin in Nigeria.

Muritala Issa ’24 M.S.
Muritala Issa ’24 M.S.

Applying what he'd learned in and out of the classroom, Issa went on to serve as a project structural engineer at FAP Consulting, a renowned engineering company. His work fueled his passion, enabling him to collaborate with stakeholders and to craft innovative designs. He was involved with the development of a variety of important projects, including restaurants and office buildings. Whether he was leading a project or mentoring interns, he felt a sense of purpose.

Issa brought his passion to the United States and to the University of New 51. He will accept his master's degree in civil engineering as part of Commencement, a three-day celebration on campus.

"Each day felt like a step toward unlocking my full potential in the field," he said. "It wasn't just about getting a degree. It was about being in an environment meant to shape future industry leaders. As I continue along this path, driven by choice, love, and passion, I am committed to making a meaningful impact on the world around me, one project at a time."

'Sparking new ideas'
Muritala Issa at the IIBEC Convention
Muritala Issa ’24 M.S. at the International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants International Convention and Trade Show.

Issa's coursework enabled him to explore a variety of topics that he found to be both practical and stimulating, from structural engineering to sustainability. With the support of his faculty mentors, he also earned several certifications, including construction manager-in-training and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green associate.

One of the most exciting academic opportunities Issa has enjoyed as a Charger was the chance to attend the in Phoenix, Arizona. The convention opened doors for Issa, enabling him to expand his knowledge and his network.

"I delved into various aspects of building enclosures, from waterproofing to exterior walls and roofs, gaining insights that are crucial for ensuring the durability, sustainability, and performance of buildings," he recalls. "The chance to interact with students and industry experts from across the U.S. and Canada further enriched my experience, fostering invaluable connections and sparking new ideas."

'Fostered a sense of belonging'

Issa also gained valuable experience through his internship with , a position he found through a career fair hosted by the University's Career Development Center. As a field inspector for the New Jersey-based firm, he worked on projects for clients such as , collaborating with construction managers and contractors. Issa says it was an immersive learning experience that enabled him to build the skills he will need to power his career.

Muritala Issa ’24 M.S. and classmates.
Muritala Issa ’24 M.S. (front) works on a group project with his classmates.

"My internship experience was invaluable, providing hands-on training in structural investigation, construction special inspection, project management, quality assurance, and stakeholder coordination," he explains. "It solidified my passion for civil engineering and equipped me with the practical skills needed for success in the industry."

Besides building his skills, Issa also built a network of friends and mentors at the University. He found a community and made many wonderful memories. From the beginning of his time as a Charger at the University's graduate student orientation, he felt at home on campus. He enjoyed connecting with other international students and found comfort in their shared experiences.

"The University's inclusive environment deserves praise," he said. "As a Muslim student hailing from Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria, I had faculty who accommodated our religious practices during prayer times and the school provided dedicated spiritual spaces for prayers. During Ramadan, lecturers allowed time for breaking fast, and the provided food. These accommodations fostered a sense of belonging and made my educational journey fulfilling."

'I now have the skills, knowledge, and network'
Muritala Issa ’24 M.S. with SEI members
Muritala Issa ’24 M.S. (second from left) with his fellow SEI members and Dr. Byungik Chang (left).

Issa immersed himself in the Charger community. He has had fun with old and new friends at events such as the University's International Festival, soccer tournaments, and the annual Taste of Africa event. He also connected with his fellow Chargers through his involvement in the University's and the . He considers the SEI Student Conference he helped host earlier this year to be among his proudest and most memorable achievements as a Charger.

Whether he was connecting with his classmates, his faculty mentor Byungik Chang, Ph.D., or other Chargers at events on campus, Issa felt like he was a part of a supportive community. He is particularly grateful for the support he received from University's vice president of student affairs and dean of students.

Muritala Issa ’24 M.S. and Dr. Ophelie Rowe-Allen.
Muritala Issa ’24 M.S. and Dr. Ophelie Rowe-Allen.

"Meeting Dr. Ophelie Rowe-Allen stands out as a highlight among my memories," he reflected. "Her genuine warmth and approachability during the orientation left a lasting impression on me. Whenever our paths cross on campus, she never fails to extend a friendly inquiry about my well-being, reinforcing the sense of community that defines the University of New 51."

As he completes his last semester as a graduate student, Issa is looking forward to making a difference through his work. He's excited to make a positive impact on people's lives while also promoting sustainable development. He's driven by his belief in a future in which communities can flourish while offering everyone access to meaningful opportunities.

"My time at the University of New 51 wasn't just about getting a degree – it was transformative," he said. "I now have the skills, knowledge, and network to make a meaningful impact in civil engineering. I aim to improve the way we manage our built environment, particularly in urban areas, to ensure sustainable growth and development, especially in developing countries."

Muritala Issa ’24 M.S. with his fellow Chargers at Taste of Africa.
Muritala Issa ’24 M.S. (back, left) with his fellow Chargers at Taste of Africa.