Nathan Seiler, Class of 2022

Nathan Seiler

I began my undergraduate career as a mechanical engineering student, fully believing that I should do engineering purely because I was good at math and physics in high school, and I thought that I would be able to help build a more sustainable world. After almost 3 years in the program, low grades, retaken classes, and a complete lack of passion for engineering, I realized that I should have changed majors a long time ago, but part of me still didn't want to give up.

Before I changed majors, I had discovered entrepreneurship and was accepted into the ILEE (Innovation, Leadership, and Engineering Entrepreneurship) dual degree program. I think my passion for entrepreneurship comes partly from my experience in ANTH 103, which was extremely interesting to me. I have both learned and discovered personally that making something that actually helps people starts with a question. Field research in anthropology is almost identical to customer discovery. Understanding the people you are trying to help begins by using empathy and gaining an understanding of their experiences.

I realized that I could help people in other ways, that being an engineer wasn't something I wanted, that I would succeed without a degree in engineering. Once I had this minor epiphany, staying in engineering was a waste of time and money. I was good at talking to people and I liked it, and I didn't particularly like doing linear algebra or solving physics problems. Why would I stay?

Around this time, I also got accepted into the iSEE (Institute of Sustainability, Energy, and Environment) Fellows program. Knowing I was going to switch, I started exploring majors in the College of LAS. I knew that I wanted to study something that I was actually interested in and beyond that, had applications that scale. CyberGIS was a natural answer to scale, and I added a second minor in Computer Science to solidify my programming and algorithm skills.

The human aspect of geography appealsĀ to me too. We live in an unfair world. Wealth is unequally distributed, and power follows. I think Geography and GIS can be put to use to help disadvantaged people.