Engineering student strives to learn through her experiences

Manaal Eisa has always found new ways to learn, whether it’s from worldwide travels or campus construction.

“I do everything for the sake of learning,” says the fourth-year industrial and systems engineering student. “It drives me crazy when classmates do things just to get a grade. I learn something new in everything I do.”

From childhood, travels to Asia, Africa or Europe were normal occurrences for Eisa and her family. Her father, an agriculturist for The World Bank, would take any of his willing five children with him on global journeys. Both parents were immigrants from Egypt who constantly reminded Eisa that “travel is the best education.” Some trips were longer than others. As a preteen, Eisa spent four years in India before returning to her hometown of Washington, D.C. Looking back, Eisa says that she learns something new everywhere she goes—including at her new temporary home, RIT.

Two of Eisa’s five required co-op experiences have been spent in RIT’s Design and Construction Services. She was busy with up to 45 projects at a time, but loved every moment. Ninety-four lounges in the residence halls needed to be transformed into bedrooms, and Eisa was the student for the job.

“It was really challenging,” she says. “I needed to manage everything from getting contractors to finding painters for the rooms. I learned to be assertive, and now that I have this foundation in engineering, I think I want to pursue a career in management.”

Eisa followed her manager around the larger construction sites on RIT’s campus to learn tricks of the trade.

“People complain about construction because not everyone is receptive to change,” she says. An example Eisa points out is Crossroads Café and Market, a bustling eatery and social center on campus. “Just think, 10 years ago this wasn’t even here.”

Eisa loves being a part of the many improvements at RIT.

“RIT is a university that listens to students,” she says. “They asked my opinion a lot, and I really felt like what I said mattered.”

Last year, she was president of RIT’s chapter of Global Union, an international multicultural student organization promoting the understanding of diversity, the development of a strong multicultural movement and awareness of global and international issues. The group of more than 2,000 students encourages interaction, understanding and union among different ethnic groups at RIT. Being president of a large student organization also meant serving as a student government senator—two roles she loved, Eisa says.

“For me, learning is larger than grades and degrees. These resources are the key to opening one’s eyes to the greater opportunities waiting to be experienced. This is the viewpoint that RIT offers to its students, and for that, I am truly grateful."

RIT News & Events, Jan. 27, 2006