Iani Batilov made the most of his time in the College of Engineering. He was president of the UNLV American Society of Civil Engineering student chapter, co-captain of the Concrete Canoe team, and even worked in the dean’s office as a student assistant.
After completing his bachelor’s in civil engineering in 2012, he continued and secured his master’s in 2016. The close connections he built with faculty and students made those in the college become like family. One of those individuals, a fellow engineering graduate, even became his wife.
How did the experience of Senior Design help prepare you for your career?
For me, Senior Design was an amazing experience that brought together and built on many of the concepts and skills I picked up in previous civil engineering classes and labs. The Senior Design competition pushed me to tackle real world design challenges and work towards a finished product that our team was expected to present in front of a panel of judges made up of practicing engineers in the community. It is a unique program that I realized early on in my career was not available at many other schools.
What is your best memory from UNLV?
I have to say the late-night study sessions and general camaraderie with my fellow classmates was one of the best parts of my experience at UNLV. I wanted to make the most of my time there and being part of the society's student chapter, Concrete Canoe team, Solar Decathlon team, and a multitude of other student engineering functions and events really made the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering a very special place for me. The faculty and staff were always supportive and available too, so it all felt like a big family.
What is one tip you would give to other engineering/computer science students to enjoy their experience at UNLV too?
My tip is, yes classes are important and you should always prioritize your academics, but immerse yourself in as much of the other programs and opportunities there that you can. Not only will the engineering focused competitions and events solidify many of the concepts you pick up in the classes and labs, but you will find a true support group and make some of your best life-long friends there. I have spent many days and nights in the Thomas T. Beam Engineering Complex's Great Hall below the [Howard Hughes] H-1 Racer Plane and believe it or not, it is the only place it made sense to propose to my current wife. She’s an alumna of the College of Engineering and we met there, too.
What is one project or design you are most proud of? Why?
It is a close tie between the concrete canoe “Infamous” which you can find among the canoes memorialized in the engineering building planters, and [Solar Decathlon house] DesertSol, still on exhibit at the Springs Preserve. The Concrete Canoe competition contributed towards sparking my passion for concrete and the complexities and challenges associated with designing and working with that construction material. That fascination with concrete would carry me into my master’s degree at UNLV. DesertSol was a project that felt like the culmination of everything I had studied in my classes and pushed me well beyond. It was amazing getting to work with talented students in architecture, mechanical, electrical, and many others, all towards a common goal.
Is there a class you remember taking that correlates directly to your career today?
For me that would be structural analysis. That class, along with statics, are the conceptual foundation necessary to go down the path of practicing structural engineering. Both Ying Tian and Nader Ghafoori, with whom I took those classes, helped kindle my desire to pursue that focus and are very talented and experienced at teaching the material. In structural analysis you really start seeing how different structural systems behave, transfer load, and many of the methods used to analyze them.
What are some takeaways from UNLV which have positively affected you in your career?
Group projects in your classes and labs can sometimes get tiresome and frustrating, but it truly is how real-world projects get completed and delivered on time. Do your part, be accountable, and hold yourself to a high level of quality. It is in your interest to foster a reputation for being reliable and trustworthy since, believe it or not, your career has already started. Personally, it helped me to remind myself that all assignments I was working on, even ones I wasn’t as passionate about, were serving to prepare me to be a better engineer.
Also good industry mentorship is invaluable. I feel very fortunate that we landed on really great and committed professionals when working on some of our class projects and Senior Design. Faculty that connected us with them deserve a lot of credit too. Finding that kind of professional guidance and mentorship when you are starting off in your career is just as important.
What brought you to your career? Was it a class you took that introduced you to it, an internship or a job you tried?
I was into graphic design in high school and was contemplating pursuing film after my first semester of prerequisite classes at UNLV, but almost on a whim I decided to give civil engineering a shot first. I had heard good things from some family friends in the industry, my grandfather was a mason in my home country, and I played with Lego and science when I was younger. After taking my first civil engineering course, I knew I had found my calling.