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Tony Ayala ND '11: STRUCTURES

AUTHOR: Allison Preston

PUBLISHED: October 24, 2017

Q: When did you graduate?

Ayala: 2011 with a Bachelor's of Science degree with a concentration in structures. I graduated from MIT with a Master's of Engineering in 2012.


Q: Were you involved in any student organizations in the CEEES Department or outside the department?


  • R.A. in Stanford Hall
  • FASO (Filipino American Student Organization
  • Undergraduate research with Dr. Tracy Kijewski-Correa
  • ASCE

Q: What classes helped you the most as a student?


I feel that all the civil classes have helped in some way, either for grad school or work. The Structural Systems class taught by Dr. Kijewski-Correa was my favorite. While all the other classes focused on the technical aspects of design, Structural Systems gave us a peek into how they are applied in practice. We delved into building codes and reviewed case studies on skyscrapers around the world. Our final project required us to pick a skyscraper and model it in SAP2000; we had to research its structural system and studied how the building would behave if part of that system was structurally compromised. My group’s building was the Trump Tower in Chicago. In the course of our research, we connected with an engineer from Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill who helped design the tower. He invited us to his Chicago office and walked through the actual drawings with us – it was a very exciting learning experience.

NDSEED was also an incredibly rewarding experience offered by the department.                                                      My group spent the school year designing and planning for a 400-foot long footbridge that spanned a gorge and connected two villages in rural Nicaragua. We spent fall break learning about the site and building relationships with potential material suppliers and spent the first month of the following summer constructing the bridge. I would highly recommend the experience to any current civil engineering student – you won’t regret it.

Q: Did you have any internships?

Ayala: I did not start looking for jobs until the end of grad school, and it was a little stressful. I would advise students to be proactive and send their resumes and cover letters to as many firms as possible, whether or not they have a posted opening. I also wouldn’t hesitate to tap into Notre Dame’s alumni network, because Domers love helping out fellow Domers; use the CEEES department as a resource for connecting you to CEEES alumni.

Q: What should students be aware of if they plan to attend graduate school right after graduating? 

Ayala: I would do your research when selecting a graduate program and reflect on what you want to get out of the experience. Master's programs are structured in many different ways; some may allow you to graduate faster but others may offer more quality electives that will help in your working life. Think hard about what fits your situation best.

Q: What did you learn from your first few years in the industry? 

Ayala: I learned that while your engineering knowledge allows you to design an efficient and safe building, effective communication and a collaborative spirit are soft skills that really help drive a successful project. Countless interdisciplinary decisions are involved in the construction of a building- it really takes all parties to buy in and to be on the same page to make it happen on time and on budget. 

Q: Why are you interested in getting your MBA after receiving your Bachelor's and Master's degrees? 

Ayala: I plan to eventually use my experience in design and construction to shift to the real-estate development side of the industry. The MBA program will give me tools to help make that a successful transition. 

Q: What engineering projects are you most proud of?

Ayala: A recent project for which I was project manager is a 350-foot residential building in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston; it is slated to open its doors to residents early next year. At the time of design, it was the tallest all-concrete building that our Boston office had worked on. With that came a lot of design challenges. Construction issues also presented hurdles for our team to overcome. It was a tough process, but one that ultimately led to a beautiful and rewarding final product. 

Tony Ayala is an MBA student at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. He also works for GTG Consultants, an A/E consulting firm in Chicago that provides work for lending and investing clients across the country. He has worked on several large projects in his short career, including additions to the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium and a 350-foot residential tower in Boston's Fenway neighborhood. Read his full alumni profile here

Categories:  Alumni

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