Not long ago, engineering and physics student Jens Carter wanted to study law. It didn't take him long to figure out it wasn't the right path for him.
"I started right out of high school at UW-Whitewater and I wanted to be a lawyer," said Carter. "When I realized that wasn't what I really wanted, I had a decision to make."
Carter left college and started learning on his own time. He sought out free resources such as books and online courses and discovered he had an interest in math and science. He had found his passion, but he needed a place to pursue it.
"UW Colleges turned out to be a good launching pad for me," said Carter. "It would really support me financially as I returned to school as a nontraditional student."
Carter hit the ground running by taking a heavy course load and participating in a variety of activities. He is involved in student government, acts as president of the engineering society and competes as part of the rocketry team. He credits his professors for helping him grow as a person and student.
"They pushed me to pursue things outside of the traditional courses," said Carter. "They helped me figure out I was able to do more work than even I thought I was able to do here."
One of those professors, Saleh Alnaeli, believes there are plenty of ways for engineering and STEM students to get involved on campus.
"There are a lot of special things and opportunities here," said Alnaeli. "People who want to make an impact can come here, work on research and establish connections with their community."
These opportunities can make a huge difference for students pursuing an engineering degree. Over the next decade, the career outlook for the field is strong. Future engineers will need a mixture of academic and real-world experiences to stand out. Whether that means designing a rocket, presenting research at an international conference or participating in student government, UW Colleges provides plenty of them.
On top of academic and research opportunities, Alnaeli believes there are other factors that make the campus stand out. High-quality education, a local campus and a supportive community are all important qualities students should keep in mind.
"I've lived almost everywhere, and I believe this community is a special one," said Alnaeli. "We're really connected to each other, we know each other and support each other whether you're a student or a faculty member."
Carter experienced that support first hand and encourages other students to take advantage of it. He believes it's a resource that many students don't use enough.
"Don't be afraid to approach professors, just go up and talk to them," said Carter. "That's how you'll get involved in side projects and really grow."
Like future job prospects for engineering students, opportunities for growth and learning are everywhere at UW Colleges.