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Hometown: Born in India; lived most of his life in Gurnee.

High school: Warren Township, 2014.

Major: Industrial engineering.

Transfer school: University of Illinois, started Fall 2015.

High school clubs and activities: Track and field; competitive weightlifting; playing video games.

Nitin Tangellamudi

I am a first-generation college student. When I was a child, my parents moved from India to the U.S. to give me and my younger brother better opportunities. My dad started working at a gas station and later started a laser business. Watching his business prowess inspired me. My goal is to become an industrial engineer. Later, I see myself as CEO of my own company that makes fast, eco-friendly cars. That would make my dad the proudest man ever. My parents worked so hard to get me here. They sacrificed a lot to put me through school. I also have a brother in middle school, and I want to be a good role model for him.

I was set on attending the University of Illinois as a freshman, but a week and a half before confirming that I was going there, I saw an email for CLC’s Engineering Pathways program. It showed how CLC courses can transfer to the U of I’s engineering program. I thought to myself, “Why not CLC?,” so I applied and was admitted. CLC’s competitively priced tuition is a huge advantage over four-year universities.

In Engineering Pathways, Rob Twardock (CLC engineering professor) and Joe Waranyuwat, the U of I academic advisor, are great to work with. They return emails ASAP, and both make sure that you are taking the right CLC classes to build a foundation for the U of I College of Engineering. That support is important.

Rob and Joe encourage study groups, which have made a difference for me.  In my first semester, I studied by myself. But after studying in groups, I improved my test scores from the low 90s to the high 90s. Group work also improves your problem-solving skills.

The quality of education at CLC is high, and it has prepared me well for the University of Illinois College of Engineering. At CLC, you have top-of-the-line professors, and some have taught at very prestigious schools such as Harvard or the University of Chicago. They are very passionate about helping you learn. All of them are very willing to meet with you in free time between your work schedules. That’s very admirable. Some math teachers will meet with you every day. Besides math courses, the engineering courses have provided hands-on learning opportunities. In one class, we used a 3D printer that printed out keys and locks that we designed using CAD software.

In my first semester at the U of I, I attained a GPA of 3.8 after completing an introductory electronics course in addition to 400-level courses in differential equations, statistics, operations research and statics. Considering that the GPA was the same as what I had earned at CLC, it means that CLC did a great job of preparing me for classes at one of the top engineering schools in the world.

Outside of class, I was vice president of the Engineering Club, where you have many people in different engineering disciplines working together. In one project, we tried to drive funding for an electric car project. We used 3D printer to print a model of the car’s frame and conducted a stress test. That was a great experience, because electric cars are an emerging technology. Serving as a VP helped me develop leadership skills. I have learned to delegate, match tasks to the person’s talent and develop a budget. Everyone wants to reach for sky on projects, but you need to build consensus, set realistic goals and then build steps to get there.

If you’re new at CLC, don’t just come to class and then go home. Talk to people and see what services are available, from the library and tutors to study rooms. Talk to advisors from here and where you are looking to transfer. Join clubs. If you don’t get involved outside of class, at the end of the day, you may have knowledge, but not know people. The more people you know, the more they help you. That’s how life works.

Engineering is a challenging field, so you have to learn how to manage your time and balance everything. One semester, I had three higher-level math classes. Since I was studying with others in all three, we partitioned each other’s time and kept each other on track. Finding that support group was important. If you build camaraderie, it helps you keep going rather than dropping out.