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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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ENGR[x]: beyond the classroom

Shayla+Rivera
Photo by Photo by Kathryn Whitlock
Shayla Rivera

The College of Engineering now offers a program to help Aggie engineers excel in areas other than education. ENGR[x] is a non-credit program that focuses on leadership, innovation, service and knowledge.
Texas A&M former student, aerospace engineer, stand-up comedian, motivational speaker and program director. All of these words encompass one person — Shayla Rivera, Class of 1983, who is leading the program.
With an extensive past chock-full of variance, Rivera is the current director of ENGR[x] at the engineering department of Texas A&M University.
“We selected Ms. Shayla Rivera as the director for ENGR[x] because her perspective as a former student, a practicing engineer and outstanding female graduate will enhance the ENGR[x] program,” N.K. Anand, executive associate dean for the College of Engineering, said. “She is a dynamic, positive person that will be able to convey the importance of high impact learning.”
Rivera grew up in Puerto Rico, but her family moved to the United States. Once stateside, she enrolled at A&M, graduating with a degree in aerospace engineering.
“My family was always really tuned into tinkering and learning how to make things,” Rivera said. “Aerospace engineering was the sexiest thing I could think of.”
With doors wide open, Rivera found her way to NASA, which she compared to rock ’n’ roll. After working for NASA, she found a new calling — the social side of her work.
“I wanted to stay in a technical field, but I wanted to work with people more,” Rivera said. “People interaction was more of a challenge to me than a space mission. Can you imagine that?”
Kindling this realization, Rivera began to work in technical sales. She sold instrumentation, environmental systems, gas chromatic graphs and water treatment chemicals to the oil and refining industries in Houston.
“I moved from white collar to plants,” Rivera said. “I had to buy steel-toed shoes and I had to wear a hard-hat all the time.”
After her stint in sales, Rivera got into stress-management training in Houston, moonlighting as a motivational speaker.
A few years ago, Rivera made a presentation at A&M and was encouraged to teach here. Now, Rivera has recently relocated to A&M, where she will administer and instill the new ENGR[x] program.
“ENGR[x] is a high-impact learning experience outside the classroom, outside our students’ current curriculum to help enhance their educational experience, foster entrepreneurship, leadership, global understanding and/or community service,” Anand said.
This program was established in hopes to provide a beyond valuable education, which will prepare students for success, according to Anand.
Mark Weichold, senior associate dean for Academic Affairs of A&M said the advantages of this program are numerous.
“I think this ENGR[x] program is going to be very beneficial to our students because it allows our students to get more formal recognition,” Weichold said. “One of the upsides of that is that it would be something that could be easily shared with prospective employers when they are pursuing a job following graduation.”
Weichold said this program will be beneficial when students are seeking internships, research opportunities and future jobs.

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