Student Stories: Jessica Halder

Student Stories: Jessica Halder

Major: Engineering

Growing up, Jessica Halder was strongly influenced by moving from Bangladesh to America.

“Bangladesh does not have the technological advancements that the U.S. does and I was taken aback by the differences I noticed over a decade ago,” she said. “I recently went back to Bangladesh and became fascinated by the fact that its capital faces frequent power outages, and parts of the country still do not have running electricity. I was surprised at the number of small shops that generated electricity with merely solar power.

“I couldn’t help but compare the fact that Bangladesh is currently building its first nuclear reactor with how the U.S. is attempting to tackle energy and sustainability issues from an array of different angles and resources. This made me want to take part in the movement to make energy more efficient and accessible worldwide.”

After leaving high school, Halder was indecisive and was unsure of which major would be the right fit. She chose College of DuPage because her older brother had attended and knew of its excellence.

“College of DuPage has allowed me to meet other students with different backgrounds, similar – as well as vastly different – goals for the future, and even established careers who made me realize how expansive fields in science and engineering truly are,” she said. “I’ve met professors who offered a flood of information in regards to transfer schools and what would benefit me the most. They answered questions I did not know I had about building a career and the right steps to take in order to obtain my goals.”

Helping her financially are a number of scholarships she received through the College of DuPage Foundation: the Naperville Rotary and Charities Scholarship, the Ruth Walbeck Memorial Scholarship, the Carol Stream Community College Scholarship, the Eileen Ward Textbook Scholarship, the Lillian Neale Campbell Scholarship, and the Paul W. and Katherine T. Hedburn Scholarship.

After transferring to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Holder realized just how expansive engineering is and decided to explore various areas within the field. She selected Agricultural Engineering, which allowed her to focus on off-road machinery and renewable energy. For her senior capstone project, she designed a non-invasive ambulatory EEG headset for a miniature horse to be used in scientific inquiry related to equine-facilitated therapy.

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she will work at Caterpillar, where she interned in 2019 and was part of a Parallel Co-Op at Research Park. 

Halder encourages any prospective student who is indecisive about the future or hesitant about the costs of big universities to study at College of DuPage first.

“Keep an open mind about what your future will look like,” she said. “I’ve talked to countless people who changed their major at least once and ended up being much happier with their second, third or even sixth choice. I would also suggest that you be social with the people you meet in classes or extracurricular activities. The COD student population is so very diverse, and everyone has unique experiences and knowledge to offer. You may end up gaining insight that will help you in the future, or friends you will take with you to your future university or career.

“In high school, I did well in math and was very interested in science, but I didn’t yet know how I could work with both for a career. Taking classes at COD influenced me to become more invested in math and engineering, which ultimately made me realize that biological engineering is a very good fit for me.”

More about the Engineering program