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Sketches of Gabby Joubran and Brittney Nelson with the learning stairs of Zachry in the background.


The Study Break is made by students, for students. On this inaugural episode, two seniors and Ingenium bloggers sit down and chat about their tips and tricks for the Zachry Engineering Education Complex, as well as their experiences in the building. Gain insight into ZACH and learn everything new students need to know about their engineering hub.

Episode Transcript

Hannah: Hi there and welcome to Texas A&M Engineering Presents: SoundBytes, the podcast where faculty, students and staff share their passions experience and expertise. Today we are kicking off The Study Break, our podcast series recorded by students, for students. Listen to what they have to say and check out what life is like on and off the engineering E-Quad. Alright, let's talk ZACH. The largest academic building on campus, The Zachry Engineering Education Complex is as revolutionary as it is state-of-the-art. With a plethora of resources available, it can be a little bit mind-boggling and overwhelming, especially to incoming freshmen. Today, we have two seniors who will be sharing their tips and tricks, their hacks at ZACH, so to speak. I'll let them introduce themselves. 

Gabby: My name is Gabby Joubran and I am a petroleum engineering senior from Houston, Texas. 

Brittney: And my name is Brittany Nelson, and I'm an electrical engineering senior from Houston, Texas. 

Gabby: So before we go ahead and start talking about the hacks at Zack, we wanted to introduce ourselves and why we chose engineering our specific major and why Texas A&M. So, personally, I chose Texas A&M because it was such a big school and I knew all the resources that it would be able to offer me. And, petroleum engineering specifically, I actually came in my first semester, not exactly sure what engineering major I wanted to do. So that was another big reason I picked A&M over other schools (because) I knew I had that first year to kind of decide what major was best for me and learn more about other students who were in majors and kind of help figure out which path I should take. And, so, then (in) my second semester, when it was time for entry to a major, in the application I decided that I wanted to do petroleum. And so the reason I picked petroleum was because I always was interested in oil and gas. And talking to upperclassmen who were taking petroleum classes, I realized that the classes they were taking were very applicable to what I wanted to do in the industry later. And I just loved all the opportunities that the department had to offer, the department specifically requires you to have internships. And so I really liked that emphasis on being able to work and do what you've learned in class and apply that to that real world. And that was really neat for me. 

Brittney: And for me, the reason why I chose A&M is because when I was in high school, I went to a really small school, so they didn't have that much spirit. But I knew when I came the A&M they had all these different type of traditions. And I was really interested in that and just like the camaraderie that A&M offers, and then also A&M is a really good engineering school. And it's really close by. Both my parents are actually engineers. My mom's electrical, my dad's mechanical. And growing up, I kind of fought it for a while, but then kind of, like, towards my senior year, I was like, okay, maybe I should do engineering. And I was leaning more towards biomedical engineering. So, both my parents said that that was a little too broad, or not too broad, but too specific. So, they kind of wanted me to choose either between chemical, electrical or mechanical engineering. And in high school, I actually had the opportunity to have a mentorship at NASA. So I was able to kind of see like what they do. And, like, I saw the side of mechanical and then I saw the side of electrical. And when I was doing mechanical, I was doing a lot of CAD work and I figured out that's not what I want to do. So I kind of like moved on to electrical and I kind of made my own like, PCB. And then I was really interested in that. And I just saw, like, how fascinating that was. And I was like, okay, electrical engineering is the right way for me. So what I was planning on doing is, when I got here, I was going to do electrical, and then do an emphasis in biomedical. But then the further I got into electrical, I found out that I loved it. And I really love just how broad it is. And then how many opportunities that it offers, especially being from A&M, there's so many electrical engineers out in the country and out in the world doing a lot of great different things. And A&M gives just that great opportunity to do that. 

Gabby: Yeah, I think the reputation A&M engineering has is really, really good. Because I know being out in the industry, people would say, “Oh, she's a petroleum engineer from A&M. She knows what she's doing." Now we'll go ahead and just start talking about our hacks at ZACH and what the best places to go and what all the resources that are available, here, at this great building. 

Brittney: Yeah. So, Gabby, to start off, what is the best time to visit the Starbucks? 

Gabby: So this Starbucks is the biggest Starbucks on campus, which is really great, because you have areas to study and always tables to sit at. And then you also have Starbucks to get and so it's really neat. I think that the best time to go to Starbucks is probably during class periods, which I know is hard, but because the off period, which is about 20 minutes is when students tend to go in between classes. And so the lines can be really long, especially if you're trying to make your class, it's probably a little more difficult. So I think as soon as a class time will start and if you don't have class, then that's probably the best time to go just because more students are in class. 

Brittney: Yeah, definitely. Also, it's just going really early in the morning, since no one wants to be up at seven a.m. in the morning. Or like going really late at night because no one's there. So those are also really good prime times ago as well. 

Gabby: Also, the weekend. I'll go to Starbucks on the weekend, and it'll be pretty empty. And so it's pretty nice because you have no place to yourself. So, with that, what do you think the best places are to study in Zachry? 

Brittney: Yeah, so I'm a part of the National Society of Black Engineers. So I study in our student work suite in ZACH 450. But with that in mind, there's also a lot of great different places to study, such as the study rooms, you can reserve and then that they have a wireless connection to the TVs and all that kind of stuff. And there's also a lot of different pods around campus. 

Gabby: But you can also get the Zachry app, which is called EngiNEAR ME. And on that app, you can click on a way where you can reserve rooms and then specify how many people you need for the room and what technologies you want. So you can be able to like present on a screen or practice presentations with people.

Brittney: So, yeah, there's a lot of different type of resources on like, in Zachry, one of them, especially is the Leach Learning Resource Center, which is on the second and third floor, which provides a lot of counseling, that's academic counseling, as well as mental and emotional counseling. And then there's also the Study Abroad Office, if you're trying to do a study abroad program, like I did freshman year. Me and Gabby went to Mexico together. So that was a really great opportunity. And then there's also the Anadarko Engineering Career Center that help you with, like, resume review, and then just kind of get you ready for the career fair. 

Gabby: I think the freshmen also have their general advising there too. And so they can talk to advisors, in between classes. 

Brittney: ZACH is a huge building. So how are you able to navigate this building? 

Gabby: It can be kind of confusing. So it depends on what entrance you go in. And then also using the app. The app has a way where you can type in if you reserved a specific room, you can type that room in and it will navigate you to where that room is or where your classroom is. And it almost is like Google Maps. So you're able to just be directed, go straight turn right and you can be able to figure it out through the app. 

Brittney: What does it mean that the building is the “mothership of engineering.” 

Gabby: So Zachry isn't really home to a certain major, it's kind of a place that every major can go to. We all have different classes there. We all have sometimes meetings there and different study rooms there. And so I think it's the mothership of engineering, just because all the different engineering majors are able to collaborate and meet up together. I know, personally, most of my classes are in the Richardson Petroleum Engineering Building. And so when I come to Zachry, I'm able to meet all these different people who are not in petroleum, specifically, and see friends that I haven't seen in a while, just because we don't have classes together. So I think it's really neat that we're able to study together not necessarily on the same topics, but at least like sit by each other and work at the same time. 

Brittney: Yeah, definitely. As for electrical engineering, most of our most of my classes are in the Emerging Technologies Building. So like, in the past few years, I would just hang around electrical engineers. Electrical engineers are cool, but I would love to hang around other different majors as well, like, just to see my friends. Like I didn't actually get to see my friends as often, now I have to see them after school, whatever. But now I'm able to see them in crossing and passing and it’s really helpful and beneficial if you just want to grab grab lunch with someone real quick and it's not like you're traveling across campus to see them. 

Gabby: But it's nice too, because it makes the big Texas A&M University seem small. Because we're all engineers, we all walk by and and before you know it, as soon as you walk by a certain area, you see someone you know, so it's really neat and comforting to know that like there's always people you know. 

Gabby: So where's the food? 

Brittney: That's an important question. Yeah, definitely. But there's a lot of different food trucks right side out right outside, ZACH. So there's like the Indian food truck, there's Thai food, there's burgers, and then also on top of that there's food right across the street like McDonald's and Chipotle and Taco Bell. So they're all kind of really, really close, like five minutes walking distance from either side. And it's just really beneficial, because it's like, oh, you need to grab lunch real quick between classes, it's like it will take 10 minutes, and then you get back to class. 

Brittney: What are the operating hours of ZACH? 

Gabby: So the operating hours is, I believe, to everyone, it's open till 9 p.m. But what's nice about being an engineering student is we have swipe access, so we can get in 24/7. So if we have a late project we need to work on we can do swipe in after the doors are technically locked, and work on it. 

Brittney: Yeah, I find that really beneficial. Because I know sometimes I come in really early to study for an exam, like 7 a.m., or anything like that, or I'll stay really late, like 1 or 2 a.m., like just setting for an exam for the next day or working on a project with the group. And it's really just helpful to just know that I know I can go somewhere, and it will be open for me.

Gabby: And I feel like there's always students there, too, at weird times. So you're never really alone. So it's we're all there together. 

Brittney: So inside ZACH, there's also this thing called the (SuSu and Mark A. Fischer '72 Engineering Design Center). Can you talk about that? 

Gabby: Yeah, so the (SuSu and Mark A. Fischer '72 Engineering Design Center) is this area where you can work on different machines. You have to get a certification to work on these specific machines, they have these CNC machines, they have 3D printers that you're able to work on either, if you have that project for your class. I know, personally, my classes, we don't work on those, but other majors do. And then if you're working in different organizations, so like Aggies Invent will have their competitions down there. So we'll work together. And it's just a really good workspace for group projects and being able to access all these different machines and equipment. 

Brittney: Yeah, and I know a lot of different groups go there for senior design as well. So I see a lot of like engineers stressing over their projects early in the morning or late at night. So it's always kind of like, good to see. Because it's like you always see people constantly working and seeing that progress, which is so great to see. 

Gabby: I think what's also neat about it, too, is that if you want to get a certification on a certain machine, or learn more about how to work it, you can be able to get that resource there. And then you can add that to your resume and use that for your job later on. 

Brittney: Yeah, I know, they also have different classes there as well. Like if you want to do like circuit board design, if you want to learn how to solder, if you want to learn how to use some of the mechanical components, you can also they have a whole bunch of different classes there as well. 

Gabby: And those are really neat resources you can just use outside of your class then. 

Brittney: So where is the general advising office and all these different offices like the study abroad office as well.

Gabby: So on the fourth floor, as soon as you walk up the stairs, if you turn right, the Halliburton Engineering Global Programs study abroad office is there. So there you can go talk to advisors about what major you are, and then what opportunities are available based on your major in what year you are or what classes they're going to have in the future. And so me and you went to Mexico our freshman year which was really neat. And then I'm actually trying to go to Ethics in Engineering also, and take that which is going to be really neat. So I think there's a lot of opportunities that people don't really know about. So you can just go to the office and talk to them and tell them if you want to go to a specific country, what uh, what opportunities and what classes can you take there. There's also classes outside of engineering that you can take abroad to your major isn’t offering it. And you can take English and history in those classes abroad, too. And then once you walk upstairs, if you turn left, there is a general advising office. So for freshmen since they're not in a specific major, they're not really assigned to that major’s advisor yet, so they have their general advising in Zachry. And they can go in there and talk about their career and their course load and what classes they should be taking based off of what major they want to go into. 

Brittney: Earlier, we were talking about this app that you're talking about, about reserving rooms and like navigating ZACH. So how do you get that app? And like, how do you go about just like working it. 

Gabby: So that is that's exactly I have, it's called EngiNEAR ME. And so on the app, you are able to reserve rooms, like we talked about earlier, you could do it through Google, or you could just do it through the app. And on the app, you can specify how many people you need for a specific room. And then what technologies you specifically want, if you have a presentation you want to work on and you need a screen, how to project that. And then you can also see how to navigate yourself. So there's a map on there that will guide you to what room you reserved or if you have a meeting in the Chevron room where that's at. And then you can also there's also access to the Zachry website that has all the different available resources that me and you are still learning about now, because this building is so big, and it's growing. And there's still so many different things that it has to offer us that we're still learning about. That's really nice.

Brittney: Yeah, so like, in the beginning, like before I used that app, I was kind of confused. I was like, I don't know where to go. This building's huge. I don't know how to book rooms. I don't know how to go anywhere. So like having this app was really beneficial for me, because it just allows everything to be centrally located, which is just great to have.

Gabby: Yeah, I think it's really nice that we're able to have that resource if we need it, and then learn more about all the things that Zachry has to offer.

This concludes our episode, Hacks at ZACH on The Study Break. Thanks for tuning and listening to us. Thank you, Brittany, for talking with me. And if there's any topic that you would like to hear, please email And that's bites with a Y. Thanks for joining in, guys.

Brittney: Thank you.



Steve: Thanks so much for tuning into Texas A&M Engineering presents: SoundBytes. What do you think? Have any questions for us? Hit us up and let us know at, that's bites with a Y. And keep an eye out for us in ZACH. we wander around the building from time to time and we'd love to hear from you. So stop by and say hello or maybe lend your voice for a future episode. Finally, just so you know, the views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts and guests and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Texas A&M University System. Make sure to tune in next week, and until then, from everyone on the podsquad, sounding off - thanks and Gig ‘em.