Engineering Student is a Driving Force

December 20, 2019

Engineering Student is a Driving Force

Aziz Gram Sarhan Jr., Class of 2022, always had a love for math and cars. It just seemed natural to study mechanical engineering. When it came time to find the right university, it was Grand Valley’s hands-on learning environment that brought Aziz all the way from London, England to pursue his degree.

“What drew me to Grand Valley was the hands-on aspect of the engineering program,” said Aziz. “I need that tangible feedback for me to feel like I can grow in my field.”

While everything seemed to be fitting in place, Aziz shared it hasn’t always been easy. Especially when it came to physics.

“When I first got here, one of the things I felt was a sense of confidence. I’m smart, so I thought I should be able to do well in physics.” said Aziz. “Immediately I hit a road block. I knew I was working hard, but I wasn’t seeing any results. It was just a bunch of failed tests.”

Aziz’s love for math stayed with him through his struggles. He practiced, persevered, and took the time to figure out a new way of learning. Soon Aziz went from needing a tutor, to being the tutor. He credits much of his improvement to the relationships he has built with his professors.

“My favorite aspect about Grand Valley is the classroom size. It has allowed me to stop my professors in real time to ask questions. The professors really do want to help, and those relationships have definitely allowed me to grow,” he said.

Still in the beginning stages of the engineering program, Aziz has taken an active role in his education. He serves as the vice president for the Grand Valley chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, tutors physics, provides guidance as a study abroad ambassador, and is preparing to start his co-op in the summer of 2020. But what he enjoys doing the most outside of class is spending time by himself in the engineering labs and envisioning what his future could be.

“The labs at Grand Valley are preparing us for what we will be taking on in the future. Being here at any time, and enjoying what I’m doing, helps me know that I’m going into the right field,” he said.

Opportunities like this wouldn’t be possible without donor support. As one of the lead donors to the Innovation Design Center for Engineering, RoMan Manufacturing Inc. is investing in Grand Valley and West Michigan’s engineering talent by providing more opportunities for students to become Laker engineers.

“If the donors were here right now, I would definitely thank them,” said Aziz. “The environment and equipment the donors are providing makes us really happy to be here.”

Aziz is looking forward to finishing his degree at Grand Valley, utilizing the new building and all its technology, and making an impact on the engineering community.

“For my Laker Effect, I would like to leave an imprint that engineering has a lot of faces. It can be any face - male, female, any color between black and white. Because a lot of people are underrepresented in engineering. I want to show that whatever your background, you can be a driving force in the engineering field.”

Originally published in Grand Valley University Foundation 2019 Annual Report on Giving.

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Page last modified December 20, 2019