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Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Barrett Romasko: structural engineer
By Daniel Li
Barrett Romasko’s path in
college has been full of exploration. Romasko, a senior majoring in structural
engineering with a focus on aerospace structures, applied to UC San Diego
without knowing much about the different applications of structural engineering,
assuming it only involved civil engineering structures. His willingness to seek
out new opportunities — through on-campus activities, classes, and
internships — has been a contributing factor in helping him figure out his
interests and goals for the future.
On campus, Romasko is
heavily involved in the UC San Diego Society of Civil and Structural Engineers
(SCSE), which has three technical project teams that students can join to get
hands-on structural engineering experience: steel bridge, concrete canoe, and
seismic design. Romasko has been part of the steel bridge project team since
his sophomore year –he was the team’s welding lead his junior year and is
currently the project manager.
The steel bridge project challenges students to design, fabricate, and
construct a scaled model bridge that stays competitive in terms of the lightest
weight, greatest stiffness, and fastest construction speed. The students start
preparing their bridge each fall and bring it to the annual Pacific Southwest
Conference each year to see how it stacks up to the competition.
The steel bridge team with their bridge.
“We start the design
process in fall quarter, which generally consists of using a lot of design software
and analysis,” Romasko said. “Winter quarter is dedicated to fabrication, so
the team takes the design to a machining space and manufactures each component
of the bridge. The last stage is construction, which is when we practice assembling
each member of the bridge according to the regulations that we received in
preparation for the competition.”
According to Romasko, the
hardest part of the competition is getting all the components fabricated by the
competition in April. That was compounded this year, as the team had to find a
new location to fabricate their bridge, as the location they’d been using for
18 years was no longer available. Romasko and his co-project manager got to work
and were able to come up with a solution.
challenges, Romasko has enjoyed working on the steel bridge project the past
three years. His favorite parts about steel bridge: the teamwork and hands-on
“I really like steel
bridge because you get to apply what you learn in class to a real project and
work with so many cool, motivated people,” Romasko said. “You also start to
understand important industry concepts such as fabrication and tolerancing.”
students to get involved in student groups as early as possible, and stresses
the importance of finding organizations that are not only career focused, but
“Joining the steel bridge
project has introduced me to so many new people that I wouldn’t have met
otherwise,” he said. “It has been a good way for me to make friends who share
In addition to their
hands-on technical projects, SCSE organizes two main community outreach events
each year: Seismic Outreach and Esperanza International.
Members of the steel bridge team.
“Seismic outreach consists
of us going to schools to teach elementary and middle school students about how
to design for seismic safety and teach them about earthquakes,” Romasko said.
“The goal is to get these students more interested in STEM fields. We also have
another event where we go down to Rosarito in Mexico with an organization
called Esperanza International, and put our engineering skills to use as we
help build houses for the less fortunate.”
In addition to his
involvement in SCSE, Romasko is a research assistant in Professor Machel
Morrison’s lab, where he works on projects related to metallography and
mechanics of materials. He’s also nabbed several internships over the summers,
working at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in 2018 and General Atomics in
“Internships are valuable
because you can get direct experience in the industry,” Romasko said. “The
internships that I have done really allowed me to see what I could do with my
major and what I don’t want to do with my major. For example, at General
Atomics, I was a manufacturing engineering intern; after the summer, I realized
that although it was a great learning experience, I wouldn’t want to do it as a
career. I feel that it is important for everyone to explore different areas to
find what they’re most passionate about, and even more importantly, to find
what they aren’t passionate about.”
Romasko came to UC San Diego
thinking that he was going to follow the civil structures route in the
structural engineering department, but during his internship at the Naval
Surface Warfare Center, he realized that aerospace structures were more
interesting to him. Without that internship, Romasko said he fears he would
never have changed to the aerospace structures focus.
Romasko is returning to UC
San Diego to complete a master’s degree in structural engineering this fall. In
the future, he hopes to work abroad for a couple years, either in Australia,
Europe, or New Zealand.
“I would love to work
outside of the United States for two to three years doing something related to
aerospace structures,” Romasko said. “One of my dream companies to work at is
Virgin Galactic, which specializes in developing commercial spacecraft.”