In the heart of a three-year-old boy riding a roller coaster for the very first time, an engineer was born. Nathan Rubin, now a Civil Engineering major at The University of Texas, remembers with clarity the “pure speed and variety of forces” of that incomparable ride. “Ever since then,” Nathan says, “I have been completely fascinated by these great machines.”
This fascination inspired Nathan, during his final years of high school, to enroll in a program that would afford him real-world experience in engineering; his participation in an Independent Study and Mentorship (ISM) program enabled Nathan to explore his passion, expand his knowledge of structural engineering and roller coaster design, and make valuable professional contacts.
So inspired was he, that Nathan, in collaboration with a friend, embarked on the creation of a backyard roller coaster. In just three months, Nathan calculated and designed a roller coaster equipped with “previously unattempted features” to enhance the “comfort, safety, and thrill of the modern day roller coaster.” These features included a Plexiglas frame, a secondary up-stop axle to prevent derailment, and a more ergonomically sound handlebar. When Nathan’s roller coaster was finally completed, it was capable of safely carrying a rider weighing up to 250 pounds.
The experience of riding his very own roller coaster for the first time solidified Nathan’s future as an engineer. “Being able to ride in something that you spent hours upon hours designing and building,” Nathan explains, “is a feeling that is unable to be expressed in any other field.”
Through the Civil, Architectural, Environmental Engineering (CAEE) program at The University of Texas, Nathan focuses on Structural Engineering. His favorite thing about the CAEE department, he says, is most definitely the staff. “Every professor I have had so far has been spectacular, not only in regards to intelligence, but as far as genuinely caring about each of their students. The department does an excellent job throughout the hiring process by allowing students to evaluate each professor and have an input on who will be in the department.” Nathan is also pursuing a business minor through the UT Business Foundations program.
Highly involved in campus activities and organizations, Nathan is currently the secretary for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Participation in the ASCE has played a vital role in Nathan’s college life. He is also a member UT’s Concrete Canoe team (which placed first at regionals this year) as well as a saxophone player in the Longhorn band.
Nathan spends his free time composing music, hiking, and spending time outdoors. He especially enjoys hiking trails and spending time in the rolling hills of West Austin. Of Austin’s creative and unique citizens, he says it’s “refreshing getting to know a very diverse group of people.”
After obtaining his B.S., Nathan intends to remain at UT’s CAEE to earn his master’s degree in Structural Engineering. In the future, he hopes to design landmark roller coasters around the world.