The Graduate School Advance to a Higher Degree

Global Ambassador: Ata Ur Rehman

Ata Ur Rehman is from Pakistan. At Purdue, Ata is pursuing a PhD in Civil Engineering with a research focus in Structural Engineering. He completed his master's from the same department as well.  

Ambassador Q & A (Questions and Answers)

Ata Ur Rehman

Why did you choose Purdue?

My inspiration for selecting Purdue was that two of my college professors earned their Doctoral degrees from Purdue and one of my senior colleagues was a graduate student at Purdue. The quality and quantity of incredible research and highly qualified Professors and staff put Purdue at the top of my list. I always had a keen interest in doing experimental research, for which Purdue was the best option. As it has one of the large-scale Civil Engineering Research Lab in the region. Being married and having two kids, the cost of living was another decisive factor to choose Purdue. So, these factors made my decision easy and simple to choose Purdue for graduate studies.

Please briefly describe your research.

My research focus is on Concrete Structures. In my master’s program, I did extensive experimental research on finding the strength of anchors embedded in concrete. For my Ph.D. I am doing experiments followed by analytical studies to find breakout strengths of shear keys embedded in concrete.

How did you decide what to study?

It was simple and straightforward for my case as I did my undergraduate in Civil engineering and I got the scholarship from my Government to study and explore the field of Structural Engineering.

What was your process for selecting a graduate school?

During my undergraduate studies, I developed a passion for higher studies. To achieve that, I applied and received a scholarship for a master’s in the field of Civil Engineering. As per the scholarship, I could apply and join any university in the world, and the only limitation was the worldwide ranking of the university which had to be under 100. Since I had plans to do a Ph.D., I was looking for a university with ample funding and research opportunities. So, I shortlisted and applied to 7 universities all over the world, in which Purdue was at the top. 

What is your favorite fact about Purdue?

I belong to a nation where cricket is the most loved and played sport, which is not common in the US. So, I thought I would be away from cricket during my study tenure. But after reaching Purdue I was surprised and amazed to see Purdue has a very active Cricket Club. I joined in and was selected in the Purdue cricket team and we were the runners-up of the Midwest Cricket Tournament in 2019. The club also organizes tournaments every semester, which I think is the best way for me to destress, relax and enjoy myself with friends.

Where do you spend most of your time on campus?

I spent most of the time in Bowen Lab doing experimental research and office work at my designated desk in the lab.

How did you decide where to live?

Before joining Purdue, I wanted to live on campus in family housing closer to classes and research facilities. Since I was married with two kids, I got many recommendations to live in Purdue Village, which is the only available family housing on campus. Purdue Village turned out to be the best option for us. We are having a wonderful time living here, my wife and kids made new friends, and people here live like a family.

What does your typical day look like?

After getting up in the morning around 8 am, I go to Bowen Lab or attend classes in Hampton Hall of Civil Engineering. From 9 am to 5 pm I do experimental work on Lab floor. Then I work on my computer at my desk in Bowen Lab or at Purdue Village Community Center. My favorite spot for studying is Purdue Village Community Center (PVCC), having computer labs, study rooms, kitchen, gym, and conference room.

What does your travel from home country to Purdue look like?

It is a long flight of 17 hours or more from Lahore or Islamabad to Chicago. It is recommended to have 4 hours or more layover time. I stayed in Qatar for 8 hours which made my journey comfortable and exciting.

What’s the biggest difference between your home country and Purdue?

It is the quality of research and state-of-the-art research facilities available here.

What’s one thing prospective students from your home country should know about Purdue?

The Diversity, Purdue has a huge number of international students coming from different cultures and backgrounds. It is exciting to observe, learn and make new friends from different cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds.

How do you de-stress in your free time?

Since I am a sports-loving person, I play cricket and badminton to keep myself fresh and healthy. Hanging out with friends and going out with my family are few things that take the burden of research and studies away.

What are you hoping to do after you graduate from Purdue?

Teach students in a distinguished University.

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