The National Engineers Week Foundation named University senior Alexander Clark one of the winners of its Second Annual New Faces of Engineering College Edition Award on April 2.
Clark earned this award, which recognizes the most promising engineering students in the world, in large part due to his founding and successful administration of a University chapter of the National Society of Professional Engineers.
Clark received one of the NSPE’s three nationwide nominations for this award on Feb. 14 before being selected as a winner in early April.
Despite being included in an extremely exclusive group of up-and-coming engineers across the globe, Clark downplayed the prestige of the award.
“The way I thought about it, it wasn’t really prestigious to me,” Clark said. “I was happy because I worked hard to establish my club on campus and I really wanted to make it as good as it could be.”
Clark, a chemical engineer, founded the University’s NSPE chapter in the fall of 2012.
The chapter serves students preparing for careers as professional engineers, as well as offers them opportunities to network with professionals in the field.
“The entire goal is to spread awareness about taking the [Fundamentals of Engineering] Exam and also just helping people become better professional engineers,” Clark said. “So it’s a lot of giving information about things like how to register and how to get discounts on prep books. And as far as career development goes, we actually had a networking dinner with our parent chapter, the Valley Forge Chapter of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers, in January.”
Members of the chapter also participate in a variety of campus-wide activities together, including the St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service and Special Olympics.
Clark explained that Peter Staffeld had a strong influence on his decision to found the chapter. Staffeld, one of Clark’s teachers and advisors, encouraged him to consider seriously the option of taking the FE Exam.
“He was the one that really stressed taking the FE exam and pursuing becoming a professional engineer,” Clark said. “He was the one that gave me the idea [to found the chapter] originally because in one of my classes he was very adamant that students take the FE exam, and since I found out that Villanova didn’t really have a centralized way of preparing for it, that inspired me to start the club.”
Clark mentioned that completing all the necessary steps to sign up for this exam, which is usually taken by students in their senior year, oftentimes proves to be a difficult process.
Being faced with this situation himself, he decided to do something about it.
“I figured I wasn’t the only one in this boat trying to figure out how to take the exam, so I decided that I would start a club that was geared toward helping people out with it,” Clark said.
Although Clark was honored to receive this award, he was more excited about the foundation he has built for the University’s NSPE chapter.
“The fact that they picked me to win this award isn’t as great for me as is the fact that I really succeeded in what I set out to do and that I established a really well-known and hopefully long-lasting club on campus,” Clark said.