an engineer in the making
Seizing opportunities at Case, Tyler McFarren is learning how to build, collaborate and dream.
Tyler McFarren is President of the Case chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and Vice President of the CWRU Class of 2023. He also serves as a Teaching Assistant for a first-year engineering class, a Peer Advisor for the Case School of Engineering, and an Orientation Leader for the university.
This spring he began his master’s studies in structural engineering alongside his undergraduate coursework. After graduation, he hopes to find work that directly impacts Cleveland or his hometown of Orville, Ohio, where he was valedictorian and class president of Orville High School.
Recently, he talked with Hannah Jackson ’24 about his Case experience and how it is shaping him into an engineer who wants to build. Here are excerpts from that conversation.
Why did you choose to come to the Case School of Engineering?
Back in high school, Case Western was my top pick of schools. The motto of “Thinking Beyond the possible” stood out to me as I had a creative “what if” kind of personality, and I loved the idea of staying in the Cleveland area.
What drew you to civil engineering?
What drew me to civil engineering was how big the projects are. You don’t just work on one specific thing. You have to look at the whole system. You take all of society, all of civilization, and all of the things that people need, and civil engineering works with these bare bones of infrastructure. It’s what we need to live.
You had a summer internship with the City of Wooster. Tell us about that.
Wooster is the biggest city in rural Ohio, so they have their own in-house engineering team. They manage road projects and wastewater projects, so as an intern I would do a lot of grunt work. I would open up sewer maintenance holes, go into them, and see what things were looking like. One time I ran into a racoon in the sewer. I would also go back to the other engineers and work with them to create a virtual model of the whole wastewater system. Civil engineering is a really old discipline but there’s constant modernization. When you have new construction, that’s going to affect the old construction meant for a much smaller city. To combine that with virtual technology that can be constantly updated is really exciting.
Were there any memorable classes you took that shaped your view of engineering?
One of the most impactful classes I took was ENGR 131B. It was an introductory course through the Roger E. Susi Lab. We got to do a hands-on project in different engineering courses every week. The two professors in charge, Katie Wheaton and Kurt Rhoads, are both civil engineers. So having that one-on-one experience was really awesome. I learned more about what I wanted to do and saw how to actually apply different forms of engineering.
You participate in a lot of groups on campus. What do you like about being involved?
I enjoy meeting people and connecting with people. I think that’s what makes our campus, where you live, and life in general better. So whether it’s a civil engineering group or Class Officers, they’re different routes that I see to bring people together and find something that we’re all passionate about. I really love Cleveland. So being a representative for my class allows me to bring the class together through events with these things we have in common.
Which club helped you to grow in unexpected ways?
Being an orientation leader for three years definitely impacted the way I go about school. We have over 150 orientation leaders and a new class of first years every year. So it creates that connection from the upperclassmen to the underclassmen and makes the cohesive community at Case. It’s a good way to reach outside of engineering and work with everybody.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m in the BS/MS program for civil engineering, specifically on the structural track. I’m starting with master’s coursework this semester. I’ll graduate with an MS next spring. I’ve grown up in Northeast Ohio, I love Northeast Ohio, and I hope to stay, but I don’t know where life will take me. If I could stay in the area and work on Cleveland or on my hometown, Orville, that’d be great to work with both the rural and the urban areas. I could see myself building buildings, making bridges, creating housing plans, looking at wastewater, or water treatment. I find all of civil engineering fascinating.
How has a Junior-Senior Scholarship helped you pursue your dream?
I really appreciate the Junior-Senior Scholarship from the Case Alumni Association, because my parents have told me since high school that it was up to me to find out how to pay for college. Through work, internships, and applying for scholarships, I’ve been able to pay towards tuition at Case, but not all of it. The Junior-Senior Scholarship went a long way and is a huge help for paying for tuition and room and board. I very much appreciate the scholarship.
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Tyler McFarren interned with the engineering dapartment of the city of Wooster.