Ask our STEM Ambassadors: Focus on Cindy Moige
14 February 2017
Cindy Moige is a 3rd year undergraduate student studying Civil Engineering at UCL’s department of Civil, Environmental, and Geomatic Engineering. Her main reason for studying engineering is so that she can make a difference in the world, especially through improving infrastructure in developing countries. This mindset has spurred her to do a lot of volunteer work, with one of her highlights being the volunteer trip she attended to Nicaragua last summer to help build a water system for a poor village. This year she plans to build homes in Zambia over the summer with other UCL students. She hopes that her role as a STEM ambassador will help other young students to find a similar passion in science and engineering.
How would you describe your area of study or work?
I’m in my third year of Civil Engineering where I learn about the physics and processes behind building and designing infrastructures. It’s not all just physics and science though. We also learn a lot about project management, we do fun scenarios in groups, and we use really interesting software to model our findings.
How did you decide to study in your chosen field?
It’s an interesting story because I actually never knew that I would end up in engineering at all. I’m more of a creative person than someone very science orientated and I honestly thought I’d end up in design or architecture. Around the time that I was applying for university, I just felt very compelled to study something that I can use to make a large difference in the world, especially in my home country of Kenya. Civil engineering seemed like the best choice, because I could use my knowledge from that to help improve the infrastructure in countries like mine. It helped that when I applied, it was not required for me to have previously studied the very technical subjects, I just needed to have the grades. It’s crazy to think that if UCL had imposed strict requirements on the subjects I studied in high school, I would not have been allowed to apply and I would not be at UCL today studying engineering!
What attracted you to participate in outreach and engagement activities?
As I mentioned, I like to live my life knowing that I’m making a difference somehow. Even if it’s small. I know that my studying a STEM subject will help me to make a difference in the world, so if I can inspire others as well, then that in itself is a difference. STEM subjects offer so many opportunities and I feel that when you’re younger and have to make decisions on what to study or specialize in, you sometimes just get so caught up in getting good grades and passing all your classes that you can easily forget what makes certain subjects so interesting and necessary. Participating in outreach and engagement activities helps to reignite that spark, and especially in younger children, it completely opens up a new world for them.
What are the benefits of volunteering as a STEM Ambassador?
You know that you’re contributing to something larger than yourself because you’re reaching out to people that are often younger than you and giving them the confidence to venture into the STEM world. I think that it’s very rewarding when you see someone understanding a new concept, or realizing that something is not as complicated as they once thought.
What advice would you give young people wanting to study or work in STEM-related fields?
I would just say to not be afraid of trying something new, and I would also say to never compare yourself with anyone else. There are so many smart people studying STEM-related subjects and it might seem daunting at first being surrounded by so many smart people. But at the end of the day you realise that you’re studying so that you can learn. You’re there for yourself so that you can fill your mind with all the wonderful knowledge in the world and do something useful with it. It’s easy to get caught up in assignments and the fast pace of university or work life, so I’d say my main advice is to always keep yourself inspired and constantly find ways to remind yourself why you’re interested in a certain subject area. Go to exhibitions, read interesting books, watch movies, you don’t always have to have your head buried in a textbook to learn!