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Head shot of Ashley Saquic Tax standing on the main staircase inside Zachry Engineering Complex.
Ashley Saquic Tax is in the structural track of architectural engineering within the Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering and is also minoring in Spanish at Texas A&M University. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering
When Ashley Saquic Tax stepped onto Texas A&M University’s campus for the first time in August after transferring from Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG), it was initially a nerve-wracking experience. After one semester, she knew she was home.
Saquic Tax is a junior studying architectural engineering in the Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering. While in her Architectural Engineering Foundations class, she heard about an opportunity to attend an educational symposium on building enclosures. The concept of building enclosures, also known as building envelopes, is used in construction to physically separate the exterior of a building from the interior.
The IIBEC/AEI 2022 Building Enclosure Symposium marked a collaboration between the International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants (IIBEC) and the Architecture Engineering Institute (AEI), the premier professional organization for Saquic Tax’s degree. Technical building experts and industry members gathered to present educational sessions and share research during the two-day symposium in November in Milwaukee.
Saquic Tax was one of 20 students sponsored by the RCI-IIBEC Foundation, which utilizes grants and sponsorships to showcase and advance knowledge in the building enclosure industry.
"I was in disbelief. Shocked, even," she said. "Out of all the students who applied, I was one of the few chosen for it. I am very grateful for such an exciting opportunity to attend the symposium."
Filza Walters, professor of practice in multidisciplinary engineering and architectural engineering, encouraged her students to apply for the IIBEC/AEI 2022 Building Enclosure Symposium. She was delighted when Saquic Tax was selected.
"The building façade, often referred to as the ‘building envelope’ or ‘skin of the building,’ can be the single most impactful contributor to a building achieving a net zero energy and carbon footprint," Walters said. "The façade is a building’s exterior system. When designed and engineered well, it separates the indoor and outdoor environment to provide a barrier. Consequently, buildings use less energy to keep the occupant safe, comfortable and healthy. Being at the conference among like-minded students and professionals was a life-changing experience for Ashley. We are very proud of her and grateful for this opportunity from IIBEC and AEI."
Ashley Saquic Tax stands with a group of 18 symposium attendees in a hotel lobby.
Ashley Saquic Tax, third from right, traveled out of state for the first time to attend the two-day symposium in Milwaukee. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

The symposium began with a welcome reception for the students and their individually assigned mentors, who were all professional employers in the building industry. Saquic Tax remembers feeling nervous. However, an event organizer approached her and the other students and advised them to relax and, most importantly, to remember that this was a unique opportunity to speak with professionals in the industry. His advice gave Saquic Tax the confidence and calmness she needed to begin connecting with guests at the reception.

"I met wonderful people who told me, 'We're here to help you. We were once in your shoes, and now we're here to guide you into this industry. Don’t be afraid to ask questions,'" Saquic Tax said.

During the symposium, she attended panel presentations, spoke with exhibitors and cultivated personal connections with the professionals in attendance. Her biggest takeaway was the importance of architectural engineering. "With the state of the world, the need for sustainable buildings is higher than ever," she said.

"I met wonderful people who told me, 'We're here to help you. We were once in your shoes, and now we're here to guide you into this industry. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.'

Ashley Saquic Tax

After attending seminars and Department Information Saturdays as a freshman, Saquic Tax knew she wanted to be in STEM, specifically engineering. To her surprise, when she shared that aspiration with others, many people offered a word of caution. 
"One thing I heard a lot was, 'You'll have a difficult time because there aren’t a lot of female engineers out there,’” she said. “And that made up my mind. I didn't know what type of engineer I wanted to be, but I knew I would become one. I knew I liked architecture and engineering, so in the end, I got the best of both worlds."
This semester, her class with Walters has only cemented that decision. "She wants us to fully engage with the architectural engineering major," Saquic Tax said, sharing that Walters feels like the godmother of architectural engineering in many ways. "She reminds us that we're learning about different disciplines – mechanical, structural, electrical and construction are combined in architectural engineering."
As a first-generation student and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, Saquic Tax is proud of the rich culture and stories found in the community she comes from in Southwest Houston. Likewise, her first two years as a Sea Aggie at TAMUG were a formative experience. She also cites an early connection as her primary source of inspiration.
"Josue and Lizeth Campos have seen me grow up and mentored me throughout my early academic years as well as college life," she said. "Their help and encouragement have led me to where I am today."
Even now, as a proud student in Aggieland, Saquic Tax reflects on what it meant when she first joined the Aggie family.
"Galveston will always have a special place in my heart and be my first home."