Happy City by Charles Montgomery

Reading Happy City by Charles Montgomery had a profound impact on my understanding of urban design and how the city makes us feel. I learned how much things like trusting your neighbors and having a short commute can make our communities brighter, happier, more welcoming. I learned how slowing down cars and prioritizing pedestrians and cyclists can transform the way citizens get around and encounter each other. By really examining how people interact with the urban environment, we can make improvements to increase safety, freedom, and happiness.

This artifact represents my interests at the intersection of civil engineering and urban planning and adds psychology and human behavior to the mix as well. I am starting to develop an interest in research, specifically in a laboratory that studies the modes of transportation and how accessible they are.

Second Year

My second year was one of immense personal growth. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, I spent a lot of time focused on schoolwork, most of which was on my own. I was very grateful for my roommates and all the ways we were able to support each other, and I felt especially lucky being able to live on campus during a semester when not all college students could. I began courses in both my major and my minor, excited to finally delve into civil engineering. I developed a better understanding of my professional interests: not purely engineering but a mix with urban studies, transportation, sustainability, and social justice. I am currently frustrated with the lack of interdisciplinary coursework and hope that progressing farther into the program will present more opportunities for combining my interests.

I also gained a deeper understanding of who I am as a person, socially and emotionally. During my first year, I felt a lot of pressure to be socially engaged all the time. I had to make new friends and invest as much time as I could in those relationships. I struggle with talking to people I don’t know very well, so it was easy to become disappointed in myself. This year, I really focused on doing the things I wanted to, caring less about expectations and what others thought. When I needed to take a night for myself to catch up on schoolwork or rest, I would. I became a lot better at managing school-related stress; I prioritized sleep and well-being over perfecting assignments, and I created a divide between how I valued myself and how I valued my academic success. They are not one in the same; I am breaking the habit of relying on my academic achievements for self-worth.

I received an offer for an internship position within civil engineering for summer 2021, which boosted my confidence. I look forward to the professional experience and the opportunity to continue to narrow my job preferences for when I begin working full-time.

Welcome to my Honors & Scholars e-Portfolio!

My name is Mia Saurette, and I am a junior in the honors program from Westlake, OH. I am pursuing a civil engineering degree with a city and regional planning minor. After graduation, I will work toward becoming a licensed engineer before returning to school to earn a masters in urban studies or planning at a public institution. I am interested in transportation engineering and hope to design, build, and protect sustainable, accessible, and resilient communities. I would like to place an emphasis on improving infrastructure directly impacted by the climate crisis. One of my primary career goals is to comprehend the multifaceted essence of a city, the concrete (literally) and the abstract, ranging from planning and construction to the ways in which people interact with and derive happiness from the combination of built and natural environments.

Second-Year Transformational Experience Program (STEP)

During my sophomore year, I participated in the Second-Year Transformational Experience Program (STEP). I attended weekly meetings during first semester with my cohort group and mentor (Ty Shepfer), completed professional development co-curricular programs and a financial wellness component, and attended a STEP expo. I selected a signature project and submitted a proposal, abstract, and budget. My project is planned for summer 2022, at which time I would like to complete a civil engineering or urban planning internship in a large metropolitan area, ideally New York City.

This experience belongs in my portfolio because it is assisting me in my professional development and networking skills. Working with a mentor and peers outside of engineering gave me new perspectives in developing my signature project. Receiving funding is also a huge benefit of the program, and it will help provide me with an experience I might otherwise not have. Thanks to my mentor, I learned more about a broad series of topics, including time management, mental health, and the impact of social media. Participating in STEP broadened my skill set and encouraged me to meet new people.


First Year

My first year of college was eye-opening in many different ways. My courses challenged me like no schoolwork ever had before, and I was required to adjust the expectations I had of myself. Learning to stop putting so much pressure on myself was a constant battle. I was very fortunate to have roommates that I liked and got along with well who were also studying within the science and engineering fields. Having them as a support system at a time when my familial relationships were very strained helped me focus and stay on track. Living in Lincoln Tower also provided me with the opportunity to meet other honors students, many of whom I ended up sharing classes with. I also found friendships through Undergraduate Student Government, where my interest in sustainability grew rapidly. As far as my degree, I had enrolled at Ohio State engineering, undecided, but I applied to and was accepted by the civil engineering department, picking up a city and regional planning minor as well.

My first year brought unexpected endings and beginnings, a major one being the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the school year. This required improvisation and getting creative with how and where I learned. I did my best to practice healthy coping mechanisms and stress-relieving activities.

I look forward to my second year and hope to develop a better idea of what kind of jobs I am interested in upon graduation. I also want to learn more about myself so I can continue taking care of myself to the best of my ability.

Robotics Project (ENGR 1282.01H)

This is the robot my group and I designed, constructed, and operated for our honors fundamentals of engineering program in spring of 2020 at Ohio State University. The objective of the course was to use our robot to complete various “tasks” on a themed course in contest with other peer groups. Our group used CAD to design the robot and shop tools to construct it in Bolz Hall. The robot was tested and our progress documented in Hitchcock Hall. Due to COVID-19, the robot competition was canceled.

I chose this artifact because it is a representation of my first engineering team-based project. As someone who did not participate in robotics in high school or have any CAD experience, I had to locate the strengths I could offer to the team and make an extra effort to be able to work with my more experienced teammates. Throughout this course, I developed a better understanding of my learning and communication styles. I also gained important skills, including writing project documentation, implementing testing processes, and understanding CAD drawings. I learned the importance of asking questions and receiving clarification. I became more comfortable with sharing my ideas and voicing my opinions. I learned the dynamics of teamwork and the challenge that working with others can present.


Pittsburgh Trip

In October 2020, I traveled to Pittsburgh to meet up with a friend over fall break. Although this was not an explicitly educational experience, I observed a lot about cities, how they work, and how they impact our personal lives. I witnessed firsthand the ways in which urban settings can nurture relationships and provide accessible, unique opportunities. This experience is worthy of inclusion in my portfolio because it inspired growth, connection to the world, and a desire to learn more. It sparked my interest in the psychological aspect of urban studies: How does the city make us happy? I also observed the positive impact of free public transportation in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, reaffirming my belief that everyone deserves the freedom of movement, both for work and leisure. I learned the importance of a convivial environment in sharing positive experiences with others; the relationships we forge with others are heavily impacted by our surroundings. A peaceful park bench, a bustling coffee shop, and the commotion of an outdoor market are all backdrops for the connections that are vital to human well-being. And there is no place like a city to provides all of these experiences within a walkable sector.