Meet your 2023-24 CivMin GSA President: Andria Liu

Andria Liu (CivE MEng candidate) CivMin GSA President. (photo by Galina Nikitina, CivMin)

We’re checking in with the newly elected leaders of CivMin Student Clubs. The CivMin Graduate Students’ Association (CivMin GSA) recently held elections to select their new executive.

Here’s our Q&A with newly elected CivMin GSA President Andria Liu (CivE MEng candidate). 

Could you please introduce yourself?
I’m Andria Liu. I am currently in my second, and last, year of my Master of Engineering (MEng) Program.  MEng is a course-based program and I’m currently doing an emphasis in Construction Management and Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Innovation and Technology in Engineering (ELITE) 

Why you’ve decided to focus on those Emphasis?
I’m working for a general contractor The Miller Group, and the company works in heavy civil engineering. We are currently working on the expansion of Highway 401 – I apologize for the traffic in advance! Our company does a lot of different projects along the 401, on a massive 10-km stretch of road. For instance, road rehabs, road bases, and bridge structures. I’ve done that for four summers now and I decided if I’m going to do a master’s, might as well continue it in what I’m involved with at work because I do plan on staying with the company.  

As for ELITE, I really like that it offers a variety of courses, compared to the stereotypical engineering courses. One course I’m taking right now is The Happy Engineer (Positive Psychology for Engineers). Honestly, it’s fun and a nice little break compared to the usual pace of courses. This course feels like a little mini-therapy session. It’s to reevaluate and look inward to yourself to make you happy. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m a little swamped nowadays because I am working full-time and finishing my master’s at the same time. A new hobby I picked up was learning how to play the saxophone I just bought the other week. I already know how to play piano, guitar and electric bass. 

Why did you decide to get your master’s degree at U of T?
Well, the first reason is because I did my undergrad here (CivE 2T2), and I do believe in U of T being one of the best possible choices when you want to do your engineering degree in Canada. I’m already familiar with the place, I love it so, I’ve decided to stay.  

Why did you decide to apply for MEng program?
I wasn’t passionate enough about anything specific to go into a MASc, and do thesis-based research, but I wanted to continue my studies. For me, it basically feels like an undergrad 2.0 where you can do more specialized courses in what you’re specifically interested in. Ultimately, it will just be a nice little bonus on my resume at the end of the day.  

Do you have a favorite place in Toronto?
I have a new favourite place I discovered last week. It’s the Lazy Cat Café that just opened last month. They have over 12 cats, all different sorts of breeds. Your payment includes a drink and an hour to sit in there to enjoy the company. It’s perfect if you don’t have one or cannot have cats at home. Highly recommend.

What’s your favorite place on campus?
I like The Pit (Stanford Fleming Atrium) when it’s quiet and not crowded with people trying to have their lunch.

Do you have a study spot?
I don’t study too much on campus anymore because I moved back home. During my undergrad, I lived in the Chestnut residence. I loved the study spot in the penthouse; it had a nice view of Nathan Phillips Square and a good environment. In this study area you are surrounded by fellow stressed engineers, which makes you feel less lonely. Nowadays, I mostly work from home or in a nearby library. 

Could you tell me about GSA in general? What’s what is this?
The CivMin Graduate Students’ Association is a way to connect the graduate students in the Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering with activities that are happening on campus. We often do collaborations with other councils. The biggest draw we have is our Industry Night event which happens every year around February. We invite a bunch of industry professionals to campus to network with our students. We also do a lot of small events: occasional pizza parties and coffee breaks we invite students to, as well as bigger events like pub nights that happen once a semester. 

Why did you decide to go for the presidency?
Last year, I worked as the Social Director for GSA. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I have always been actively involved in extracurricular activities. I worked at the school council and designed graphics for F!rosh Week (the first-year orientation program for that year) as a part of Skule™ team. I have been in and out of exact roles, but nothing was quite as serious as being the President of the Graduate Students Association. The primary reason I decided to run for President was because I had the advantage of observing the council operate for a full year, so I felt it would be easier to organize all the activities for our Association. I also I have a few new ideas for the GSA.   

What are your goals for this year?  
I want to bring in new ideas and see GSA grow. The main goal for me this year is to get more people aware of the association. Another goal would be to expand the GSA’s industry network and invite more professionals to our Industry Night. This event focuses on networking, communication, and building future relationships and is not just limited to hiring. Besides, I believe it is essential to collaborate more with the various groups available on campus

How can people get involved and how they can find you guys?
We have a website and Instagram. We always post all of our new events on Instagram.  

How do people can become a part of GSA?
For the actual executive members, those nominations go out at the end of September every year and the election period the week after for those people who would be in office for a full year. As for involvement, you can always show up to the events we create the events for the students. We encourage them to take advantage of the coffee, pizza and resources. 

Any final words and fancy quote from you?
Enjoy your great experience, I’d say. This is definitely a unique time and once you go into the full-time employment, you’ll have fewer “magical experiences” like this. Enjoy your time! 


Full list of 2023/2024 GSA Club Executives:

President: Andria Wan Ning Liu
Finance Director: Jenil Savla
Communication Director: Sahil Rafique Shaikh
Academic Director: Hamzah Mamoon Smadi
External Director: Sepehr Javidan
Social Director: Krupa Mahendra Patel
Social Director: Bhabishya Khaniya
Social Director: Mohaddsesh Abdolhosseini
Athletics Director: Rouhollah Ayazian
Rep: Tabassum Masoodakhtar Saheb
Rep: Priya Jadav

By Galina Nikitina