In Haiti, Grace Muggeo worked alongside engineers from the Pall Corporation on repairs to a water filtration system.
The Cortland-based company donated the system in 2015, and since then it has provided drinking water to hundreds of families in the rural community of Grande Saline. But even the best system needs periodic maintenance, and Muggeo eagerly worked alongside the Pall engineers as they made the needed fixes during the SUNY Broome Health for Haiti global service learning course in January 2018.
“It helped me realize that in the future, I could travel to another country as an engineer and do something like this,” reflected the Engineering Science major, who also participated in other Health for Haiti initiatives, including food distribution, teaching youngsters and visiting orphanages.
Health for Haiti has long intrigued Muggeo, and the possibility of traveling the world to make an impact on people’s lives. In some ways, that’s surprising; she sought to stay close to home and close to her family while attending college, and plans to stay in New York State once she is a full-fledged engineer.
“I’ve always wanted to stay close to home. The first two years of engineering are the same wherever you go, and I get to be with my family every day,” she said of her decision to stay local for college.
Despite the distance, she found that she wasn’t homesick at all while in Haiti with her classmates. They were simply too busy, working as a team in an intricate humanitarian effort while seeing a different culture first hand.
“It makes you appreciate life a lot more,” she said of her experiences in the Caribbean country.
A born engineer
While many young girls play with dolls, Grace Muggeo asked for LEGOs. She has always enjoyed building things and knew from the first that she wanted to become an engineer. It’s a family tradition, in fact; her father is an engineer and she grew up familiar with the field.
She’s looking toward a future as a mechanical engineer because of the broadness of the field, and is particularly interested in building homes. There is a running joke among the Engineering Science students that each chose a different specialty so they could one day help each other build their own houses, she said.
Small class sizes allow students to succeed in a challenging major, she said, and professors truly want students to succeed. On campus, she is involved with the Engineering Science Club and the Art Club, the latter to get in touch with her creative side.
She is already laying the foundation for her future, landing a summer internship with BAE Systems. She’s looking to transfer to either Binghamton University or the Rochester Institute of Technology for the next step in her education.
Whatever transfer institution she chooses, her time at SUNY Broome will allow her to make the transition smoothly, she said.
“It’s definitely not what I anticipated. It was the best place I could have gone and I’m so happy I came here,” she said.