Wearing Many Hats
Graduate brings experience and energy to KSU
MARIETTA, Ga. (Dec 7, 2016) — Christian Bourguillon has made the most of his years at Kennesaw State. The Port-au-Prince native arrived in Atlanta two weeks after the 2010 Haiti earthquake to live with his aunt and finish high school. He had always dreamed of attending college, and 18 months after his move to the U.S., he enrolled at Southern Polytechnic State University to study civil engineering.
During his five-year academic journey, Bourguillon said that he took advantage of all that college had to offer -- he joined a fraternity, held leadership roles in several student organizations and served as the mascot for both Southern Poly and Kennesaw State. But it was the opportunity to participate in a particular research project that solidified for him that he was on the right path.
Early in his first semester, Bourguillon responded to an email from the civil engineering department looking for students to help with a research project called the Rubble House. The university’s civil engineering researchers were developing a technique that allows homes and shelters to be quickly reconstructed using disaster debris, creating a loose-fill panel that can be constructed into a wall or column.
A graduate of Mill Creek High School in Hoschton, Ga., Bourguillon had a strong understanding of the problem that many third world countries encounter during natural disasters.
“In Haiti, they built houses to withstand hurricanes, not earthquakes. The last earthquake we had was 100 years ago, so no one remembers it,” he said. “There was little technology then, compared to today, but when you build houses with cinder blocks, it’s just not safe during an earthquake.”
“The Rubble House technology is cheaper and safer, and absorbs the energy of the earthquake before the walls fall,” he said. He was even interviewed by local WSB-TV for his work on the research project.
Bourguillon spent more than a year working and testing the Rubble House project, cementing his interest in civil engineering. He entered a co-op with Arseal Technologies, an oil and gas pipeline provider, and currently works with Gaskins Engineering and Surveying, a surveying and site development firm.
A Mascot’s Life
An Honors College student, Bourguillon also made time for extracurricular activities. He was a member of the student chapters of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and American Concrete Institute (ACI), and was a member of Sigma Pi fraternity, where he served in various leadership roles for the fraternity. He also served on the Student Honors Council as president and two-time vice president.
“I came to this country, and this campus, and didn’t know anyone. I knew that the only way to get to know people was to join organizations and talk to people,” he said.
Besides being involved in several organizations, Bourguillon also served as Kennesaw State’s mascot, Scrappy. He also was the Southern Polytechnic mascot, Sting, prior to consolidation with Kennesaw State.
”I’m the only one to have been both Sting and Scrappy,” Bourguillon said. During the consolidation period, he made a joint appearance, changing from Sting to Scrappy during a men’s basketball game.
The high-energy graduate, who took 22 credit hours to graduate this semester, plans to stay in the Atlanta area and take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam needed for professional licensure.
- Tiffany Capuano; photos by Lauren de Azua Lopez
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.