Nepalese Graduate Shines in Master’s Engineering Program
- Jun 8, 2023
- Alex Briseño
[Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of Texas Global’s miniseries celebrating a few of the many outstanding international graduates who leave a lasting impact on their UT Austin community.]
The University of Texas at Austin was Abhigya Paudyal’s dream university for graduate school in the United States from the moment he earned his bachelor’s degree at home in Nepal.
Globally renowned and consistently ranked among the top programs in the U.S., it was UT Austin’s commitment to its graduate program in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering (CAEE) that caught his attention.
“The specialization in geotechnical engineering is considered one of the best in the States and also renowned in many parts of the world,” Paudyal said. “The broad research, lab equipment and incredibly experienced faculty is what made me attend The University of Texas at Austin for my master’s degree.”
Paudyal earned his master’s degree in civil engineering in May 2023, a year and a half after arriving from Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu.
Whether he was discovering the mayhem that is a Longhorn football game, learning how to swim, connecting with UT Austin’s Nepalese community or leading several student organizations, Paudyal describes his time on campus as the most productive 18 months of his life.
He participated in the Nepalese Student Association and served as the vice president of the Geo-Institute, a graduate organization in the CAEE department that is affiliated with the American Society of Civil Engineers.
In the immediate future, Paudyal is heading to Washington, just 15 minutes east of Seattle, for an engineering job he’s had lined up since last November.
“That’s the beauty of UT Austin’s engineering program,” Paudyal said with a smile, referring to the prodigious job prospects available to UT Austin grads.
Texas Global caught up with Paudyal during Commencement week to reflect on his time on the Forty Acres and discuss his exciting future.
What surprised you about your time at UT Austin? What will you miss the most?
Honestly, the surprising thing was the atmosphere at the sporting events. I was also surprised by how many international students are in graduate programs. I expected maybe it'd be a 50-50 split, but there were more than 60 percent of international students in the graduate program. Although it’s such a short program, I will miss my friends the most — and Austin, of course.
As I reflect on my time at UT Austin, part of me almost isn’t ready to graduate, in a way. I’ve done so much here. I had three different jobs, including an experience as a teaching assistant, and I even learned how to swim here. I was really fascinated by how much people enjoy college football here, which I never thought I would get to experience. These are the types of things I will miss a lot. That part makes me a bit sad.
You mentioned your experience as a teaching assistant. What was that like, and are you open to teaching in the future?
I was a TA in the College of Natural Sciences for a physics course that first- and second-year students typically take. I was definitely nervous because I've never taught before in my life. It was really different. If it were with students from my country, in my first language, it would’ve been easier at the beginning. But by the end I really enjoyed it.
I had two different TA’s observe my class. Based on their feedback, I really feel like I will be teaching in the future because of the reviews I received. I really connected with the students, and they were happy with the course. They wanted me to teach next semester, but I told them I was graduating. That motivated me to teach more in the future, after three semesters of being a teaching assistant.
What’s next after graduation?
After graduation, I am moving to Washington. I'm going to work there as a geotechnical engineer. I had three years of experience in Nepal before I came here for my graduate program. UT Austin was always the university I wanted to attend in the U.S. Our program is ranked in the top four nationally, so I wanted to improve my profile and work in a specialized field before submitting a college application. I believe that is how I got admitted. It took a while for me to get here, but now I’ve had a job lined up since November. That’s the beauty of this program. I will be working as an engineer at Kleinfelder, a company with one branch in Redmond, Washington, which is just 15 minutes east of Seattle.
What are your career goals? What about your long-term goals?
My long-term goal for now is to become registered as a professional engineer, which I will have to take another exam for. Then I want to open my own firm in the future. But honestly, I need to work on different projects for a few years and specialize myself. Then I can learn from that experience, open a firm later on and hire Texas Exes!
Lastly, is there anybody you would like to thank?
I would like to thank my professors, who were all so talented. I also want to thank my parents. I'm an only child, and they let me come to the United States for a master’s degree. Normally they wouldn't allow that — they’re 8,000 miles away. They came for graduation, so I was really excited about that.
There are so many other people to thank. I worked for the McCombs School of Business; I worked for the College of Natural Sciences; and I also worked for the Engineering Student Services and family orientation. I want to thank everybody for giving me the opportunity to work with them. And UT Austin, of course, because it has given me everything. This is the most I have ever done in one-and-a-half years.