Sara Harbison

Class of 2024
Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Minor: Sustainability Studies
Hometown: Bowie, MD
High School: Eleanor Roosevelt High School

What Made You Decide to Attend UMD?

Growing up so close to the UMD campus, I never planned on attending the university myself. However, when the time came to apply to college, I found myself drawn to UMD more and more. The Clark School was one of the only engineering colleges I researched that offered study abroad opportunities for all engineering majors, opportunities for research as an undergraduate, and a wide variety of exciting clubs. UMD as a whole also has living-and-learning opportunities, Big Ten sports events, and is very close to DC. 
Looking back, I am so glad I chose to attend UMD and become a Clark Engineer. I can't imagine my college experience any other way!

Best Experience with a Class or Project

In Fall 2021, I took LARC151 with Dennis Nola. This course in the Landscape Agriculture department focuses on urban agriculture and edible landscapes. Throughout the semester we learned about GMOs, reusing greywater in the garden, and the steps of designing environments. As our final project, we designed an outdoor classroom and garden for my middle school! I was so excited to not only create a design that was going to be considered for a real-life implementation but do so for a place that meant so much to me.

Favorite Class In Major

ENCE 200: Civil Engineering Graphics for Design and Construction

Favorite Class Out of Major

LARC 151: Urban Agriculture: Designing and Assessing Edible Landscapes

Student Organizations/Extracurricular Activities

Engineers Without Borders (Senegal)
American Society of Civil Engineers
College Park Scholars Alum
Horticulture Club

Favorite On-Campus Event

“Ice-skating” in Stamp! Initially, my friends and I wanted to check this event out to see just how they were going to create an ice skating rink in Stamp. Upon our arrival, we realized that there was no actual ice involved. Instead, thick pieces of slippery plastic had been fitted together like a giant puzzle on the floor. We borrowed ice skates and slid around on the “ice” until our time was up. We still laugh and talk about it today.

Favorite Research or Study Abroad Experiences

In Summer 2022, I had the opportunity to travel to Senegal with Engineers Without Borders. My team and I met with a group of engineering students from the Dakar American University of Science and Technology before heading to a rural village in the Kedougou region. This village, Dindefelo, features a health center that lacks reliable power. While there, we analyzed the existing solar power system and interviewed healthcare workers and patients. We plan on designing a new solar power and battery backup system for the site during the Fall 2022 semester and returning to Senegal to implement the design in the Winter.

Cool Engineering Experience

One of my favorite things to do at UMD is explore the campus. During one of my exploration trips, I visited the top floor of Jull Hall. At the time, the space was temporarily occupied by the architects and engineers working on the Yahentamitsi Dining Hall.
I spoke with the Head Architect of the project and told him about my interest in civil engineering. He shared the design plans with me and took the time to explain all of the parts of a plan set and the steps of a construction job to me. This experience was super cool and unexpected! Since then, I have taken courses on design and worked with a design firm to expand my knowledge on these topics. I am forever grateful for him as this opportunity allowed me to realize that I had chosen the correct major and career path.