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Tell us about yourself. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?

The day Himanshu Wad landed in Atlanta was also his first day outside of India.

“I landed in Dallas in the afternoon, then Atlanta in the evening,” he said. “I walked out, and it really was a whole new world.”

Wad came to Georgia Tech in 2015 to pursue a master’s degree in civil engineering with a focus in transportation systems. He’s the first in his family to earn a degree from an international university. When he started investigating the idea as an undergraduate in Civil Engineering from Nasik, India (Bharatiya Vidya Bhavans Sardar Patel College Of Engineering), it was more of a dream — he hadn’t known anyone to go abroad for a similar degree. Once he was accepted to Georgia Tech, though, it became real.

In spite of the large investment required for pursuing international education, his father, who had spent five months working at the University of Maryland College Park during his postdoctoral research, knew it was worth it.

“My mom and dad had more faith in me than I did — they never flinched about it,” Wad said.

Once Wad got to Tech, his family kept cheering him on from across the ocean, calling every day to check on how things were going.

“They never gave a single sign of doubt,” he said. “It was always immense positivity on the other end of the phone.”

Can you tell us about your internship?

Now, Wad has a full-time job lined up with Jacobs Engineering, where he also interned. He has spent the past year and a half studying transportation engineering in one of the most traffic-addled cities in the U.S. Going in and out of utility boxes around the city for work has let him get to know Atlanta more intimately than some who have lived here their whole lives.

Why did you choose civil engineering?

“I chose civil engineering because I wanted to see something change because of the efforts I put in,” he said. “There’s a lot of improvement happening in traffic engineering, but it’s an underdeveloped field. I want to be able to work on the systems side as things change, and Tech has equipped me with everything I need. I’d love to try to implement some of what I’ve learned back home someday if given the opportunity.”

One thing Wad will miss about graduate school is the relationships he developed within the transportation systems group. Though it took a few months to settle into life at Tech, his cohort eventually became a second family. A room in the Sustainable Education Building served as their central meeting point. His roommates for the past six months also became some of his most meaningful friendships.

“Everyone is so positive, so encouraging,” he said. “Honestly, I’ll miss lecture, figuring things out as a group, the little arguments and laughter in SEB 101. And the really fast internet.”

Since he’ll be living and working in Atlanta, Wad plans to stay connected to Tech as an alumnus. As an undergraduate in India, Wad captained his school’s ping pong team, but he never had a chance to play with Tech’s table tennis group as a graduate student. Now, he hopes to have time for that in post-graduate life.

He hopes to help his younger sister eventually study in the U.S. as well.

“No matter the political scenario, there is so much to learn here and the U.S. has one of the best education systems in the world,” he said.