The Daily Iowan: Grad School on the Move

Thursday, May 21, 2009

By Michael Dale-Stein
The Daily Iowan

When the end of summer rolls around, UI senior Adam Keen will pack his bags to study in Norway, the Netherlands, and England.

He will begin a two-year graduate degree this fall, studying coastal engineering at universities across Europe.

“I’m excited to experience the culture as much as I can,” Keen said. “As touristy as it sounds, I want to do some sightseeing.”

While interning with Moffatt & Nichol engineering group last summer, Keen found out about the program, which is offered by the European Union and focuses on coastal and marine engineering and management.

The civil-engineering major said studying across the world will help him better understand foreign businesses.

“It’ll be great to get an international perspective on engineering,” he said.

The trip abroad isn’t the first time Keen has spent long periods of time away from home, coming from California to attend UI.

The Mission Viejo, Calif., native said his home state’s colleges are too competitive, so he came to Iowa looking for a different environment.

“Two of the best things coming out of Iowa are good work ethic and a Midwestern mentality,” he said.

But after arriving Iowa City, Keen said he experienced culture shock.

“Everybody that I’ve come across have been really nice and super respectful,” he said. “People in California spend too much time in their cars and can be a little grumpy.”

Keen also said he misses the ocean.

“When I was in high school, I was on the surf team, so I was at the beach almost every day,” he said.

Since coming to Iowa, he has become involved with many on-campus activities, serving as a student ambassador, student mentor, Honors fraternity member, and member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

And for two summers during his college years, he volunteered as a diver at the Texas State Summer Aquarium.

Keen said he has known he wants to go into engineering since he was a kid, especially because he always did well in science and math.

“Engineering just fit well,” he said.

UI student Kyle Hudson said Keen’s calm personality sets him apart from others.

Both Hudson and Keen served as student ambassadors for the engineering school and worked together on a class project.

“[Keen] is fun to work with,” Hudson said. “He keeps everything in perspective.”

Keen said he realizes the UI has been a good choice — especially the engineering program.
“I’ve met a lot of great people here,” he said. “And I’m coming out of here with a great education.”