Senior, Geological Engineering

Nishanthi’s passion for engineering stretches back to her high school years on a robotics team, where she first heard about geological engineering at South Dakota Mines, a perfect fit for her dream job: natural hazard assessment, looking at everything from landslide and earthquake prevention to mitigating the losses disasters leave in their wake.

Once she arrived, the hands-on opportunities were beyond belief. From the Badlands to the Black Hills, the Rushmore Region boasts totally different outcroppings minutes apart, an astounding diversity (and mystery) that puzzles the geologic community to this day.

Added to South Dakota Mines' personal attention where professors know you by name (and later the president of the university writes your Rhodes Scholar recommendation!), after one visit, Nishanthi decided this was the school for her.

The second-best decision she ever made: joining WiSE.

“Getting involved in WiSE has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. I remember being a freshman and having all these questions about schedules and what professors to take and who do you talk to if I want to do my nails. There’s just so much you want to be able to talk to a female about, having a go-to is really important. Now as a WiSE mentor, it’s been really rewarding to help others.”

But WiSE isn’t the only community she’s found here. An avid musician from the age of four, the music program at South Dakota Mines was critical to her choice of university, as well. “Music is amazing because it incorporates everything you could ever need in life—which is math and art. Music takes your knowledge and skill in math and fractions, precision and accuracy, and combines it with this beautiful art form.” It’s also a well-deserved stress release from a rigorous field.

After graduation in May, Nishanthi wants to go to graduate school, then work in the field as a natural hazard assessor before bringing that experience back to the classroom on the other side of the lectern—ideally right here as a professor at South Dakota Mines.

That career arc requires a set of ever-changing skills, made possible by the versatility learned at South Dakota Mines.

“I want people to come here. This is one of the hidden gems in this country. The combination of hands-on experience, internships, and research experience, with a South Dakota Mines education, is real-life preparation a lot more than a college education. It really does prepare you to be a scientist or engineer, and it teaches you how to learn. That’s the most important thing, because if you learn how to learn, you can do any job.”

The only thing it takes? Commitment, and a passion for making the world a better place.

“The one piece of advice I would give is it is relatively easy to get in to South Dakota Mines, but it is hard to stay, so when you make the decision, make a commitment to stay in science and engineering, to put your heart into this school and your passion, whatever it is, because it’ll reward you in the future, not just in money and jobs, but you’ll feel really good about helping society. That’s what engineers and scientists do. Their goal is to advance society and make it better by figuring out how can we solve problems the world is having – and there are so many right now that we can help with.”