Student Profile- Alan Gruenstein

Blue water to blues guitar, Gruenstein pursues passions

Alan GruensteinCrosby native Alan Gruenstein has used his time at Lamar University to discover his dream career in civil engineering. He entered the university with a simple love for math, but now a senior, Gruenstein is prepared for his civil engineering degree right down to his partiality for wastewater treatment. With only one semester left, the 20-year-old reflects on the self-discovery he has gleaned from his courses and involvement on campus.

“I originally came to Lamar University for chemical engineering. I switched right away to mechanical engineering, then during my sophomore year, I took a civil engineering class and I completely loved it. My professor described civil engineering and I liked the idea, so I switched my major again. I’ve been happy with my decision ever since. It’s ironic because I want to work in wastewater treatment, one of the most chemical parts of civil engineering, after coming all this way from a chemical engineering major,” he said.

Gruenstein feels grateful for his time at Lamar University. He considered several larger institutions when applying to college, but decided on LU for the opportunities it offered, such as the Excellence in Engineering Scholarship he was awarded which helps alleviate the financial burden of higher education. Since then, Gruenstein has participated in several clubs, connected with other students, gained experience with engineering projects, and formed personal relationships with his professors.

“I definitely have LU to thank for my fully funded engineering design project to improve the John Gray Center pond. Our mentor, Dr. Jerry Lin, gave us complete access to his lab where I run samples all the time. I’ve really learned from the whole experience, and our work is something that the university will actually use when we are done, so we get to evaluate our work in a real-life situation. If I went to college somewhere else, I may not have had this opportunity,” he explained.

Gruenstein makes school his No. 1 priority, averaging 18-19 credit hours of demanding courses each semester and maintaining a high GPA, but he recognizes the value of diversity in his lifestyle.

“I’m in the Boxing Club…. It’s taught me self-discipline and helped me to build relationships. Not only that, its helped me to face my personal challenges,” said Gruenstein, who has struggled with cardio workouts after health complications and multiple surgeries. “I’m also in the Pokémon club because its great at the end of the week to have something not school-related to look forward to. It’s a great stress reliever.”

Playing guitarGruenstein balances his structured studies and fast-paced social life with his passion for playing blues guitar.

“I’m inspired by the best, like Buddy Guy, BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Jimi Hendrix. I personally love playing blues and I’m still working on my singing. If actually do anything in the world I wanted, besides engineering, I’d love to be a blues guitarist.”

Even while juggling classes, boxing, personal workouts, Pokémon club and guitar, the future engineer still finds time for his spiritual growth. Gruenstein has been highly involved with his church for most of his life. He plans to become an ordained minister by the age of 21 with an important message for the world; in light of polarizing opinions towards religion, Gruenstein promotes greater humility and acceptance from Christians everywhere in hopes of improving the relationship between religious and non-religious communities. 

Gruenstein knows he isn’t the typical 20-year-old college student, and he views it as an accomplishment.

“One thing that makes me unique is the fact that I look at what people think is ‘in’ and I strive to be the opposite. It makes me feel better to know that I’m thinking for myself,” he said. “Not only that, but it exposes me to a wider variety of life experiences and I see that as a personal advantage.”

Gruenstein plans to work either for the U.S. Navy, where he will complete his training in engineering, or for Houston after passing the Fundamental Engineering exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam to become a professional engineer. He will graduate from LU in May 2016.