Riaz Jiwani currently resides in Texas where he is the Geotechnical Field Engineer/Quality Control Manager at Hayward Baker. After completing the TAMS program in 2010, Jiwani went on to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering and a Master of Science degree in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of California – Berkeley.
What brought you to TAMS?
The chance to focus more time and energy on the STEM fields than offered at public schools, and of course, a healthy push from my parents to “at least give TAMS a chance.” So I thank them tremendously for the encouragement.
What did you enjoy most about your time at TAMS?
The camaraderie between our classmates, and the infectious energy that drove me to work harder and harder each day. Ping pong, pool, and intramurals were also some of the most fun aspects of being at TAMS.
How did your experience at UNT and TAMS shape your career path?
It allowed me to make decisions on my own, and take ownership of those choices. It was a small glimpse into the decision-making process that we experience as adults every day. Being exposed to that at the age of 16 and 17 allowed us to make leaps and bounds as we left TAMS and made our way to college.
What was the most valuable lesson – inside or outside the classroom – that you learned at UNT and TAMS?
Humility and hard work! I came to TAMS with good grades, and confidence in myself. After the first semester, I noticed that my grades were good, but that so many other students got 4.0 GPAs. That wake-up call was powerful enough that it drove me to change my priorities and balance my time better. In the end, the feeling of success didn’t come from the 4.0 GPA; it came from knowing that with hard work and humility, I really was able to achieve something that I’d never done in the past. That lesson stays with me to this day.
What did you do in the year immediately after graduating?
The summer after graduating from TAMS, I volunteered at a youth camp as a swimming counselor for kids between the ages of 6-10 years. At the end of that summer, I moved to Berkeley for college and the rest is history! Can’t believe 9 years have flown by!
Please share a memorable moment or experience from your time at UNT and TAMS.
The summer internship at NASA Johnson Space Center was one of my most memorable experiences at TAMS. I spent 3 months working with engineers and performing my own research. Whether it was working in a full-scale mock-up, visiting the ISS mock-up, or listening in to a conversation with astronauts aboard the ISS, I learned valuable lessons and friendships that have stayed with me to this day.
How would you describe UNT, TAMS, and Denton?
Back in 2009, Denton was expanding rapidly, and I was a high schooler living on a college campus. However, TAMS helped narrow all of that down, and helped me create my own space.
If you could back and do it all again, would you still attend TAMS? What would you do differently, if anything, during your time as a student?
If I had the chance to do this all again, I wouldn’t hesitate one bit. To this date, there are a few decisions that are hands down the best decisions I’ve ever made: attending TAMS, blindly deciding to attend Berkeley, and leaving my first job after college to chase my passion. One thing I would do differently, is spend time getting to know more of my classmates. It’s easy to get caught up hanging out with the same people, but everyone that’s at TAMS is incredible and has a lot to offer.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
I wanted to be a civil engineer for longer than I can remember, and the reason was to be able to give back and improve the quality of life of the communities
What advice/insight do you have for TAMS alumni and students interested in your field?
I pursued Civil Engineering with an emphasis in Geotechnical Engineering. It is one of the most versatile fields of engineering, where not everything is “by the book.” It is truly a field where judgment is valued just as high as textbooks, and gaining as much experience as possible will set you up for success. Regardless of the field you choose to pursue, my one recommendation is “don’t be afraid to try new avenues.”