LU math and engineering add up to opportunities

Ben YettBeaumont native Ben Yett’s collegiate journey has been one of many choices. 

The 2011 graduate of Beaumont’s Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School, is majoring in electrical engineering and mathematics and plans to graduate from Lamar University in May 2015

Yett excelled in math classes and competition in high school. When it came time to choose a university, he sought one that offered strong math and engineering programs. 
The idea of a degree in engineering always appealed to him but it is the intensity of the math that drew him to electrical engineering specifically. 

“Electrical engineering seemed to involve the most math and that has been my passion since I was a kid,” he said. “Math has always come easily to me.” Want even more math? Double major.

“My parents don’t really know where that ability (in math) came from, but I’ve never had much of a problem with doing it in my head.”  Yett’s father works as an analyst for ExxonMobil and his mother is a youth director at St. Anne Catholic Church in Beaumont.  His younger sister is studying pre-pharmacy at Incarnate Word University in San Antonio.

He also wanted to fulfill the dream of going away to college. “I just didn’t think I wanted to be close to home,” he said. While looking at schools with strong engineering programs — from Texas A&M to TCU to the University of Portland — he decided to look at Lamar and soon realized that Lamar has “a very good engineering program.”

He received excellent scholarship offers from several schools, but it was Lamar’s generous Mirabeau Scholarship offer that compelled him to give up on his idea of “going away.” 

“On that level, it was difficult,” he said. “On another level, it was a really awesome opportunity.” Wherever he went, he knew that if he did his best it would open up limitless opportunities.

With the benefit of hindsight, he sees now that his decision has been a blessing. “I love it now,” Yett said, having discovered a real upside to being close to home. “I am super happy about being able to go home to see my parents. And I’ve got an aunt and uncle and some cousins who live close by.  I get to tutor them in math and hang out.  My grandparents are here too, so I go over (to their house) and see them. 

“Being close to home has ‘kept me grounded,’” he said. At the same time, he’s taken advantage of the university experience. “I’ve gone out and made the best friends. To do that, I had to kind of put myself out there.”

The more he tried new things, the easier he found it to make friends — the first was trying out longboarding — and with each new activity his circle of friends widened. One new acquaintance remembered playing tennis against him in high school. “We ended up becoming best friends and lab partners,” he said. 

He joined the rugby team, and managed to avoid broken bones (thus far), but has found six-on-six soccer particularly enjoyable. “It’s always fun to play,” he said “I’ve always liked basketball too. I’m not all that good at either of them, but I like playing more than one sport rather than focusing on one. I just want to have fun playing whatever sounds good at the time.”

Ben Yett“I think my sophomore year is when I started joining clubs,” he said. On the list: Circle K International, which he served as president last year, and Engineers Without Borders, now working hard to raise funds for a project in Belize. 

Like all Mirabeau Scholars, Yett is active in the honors program.

“It has been pretty cool” being in the honors program, he said.  “One thing it definitely encouraged me to do is to go to some cultural events. I have gained an appreciation for theater and (other) things they do here that I probably would not have gone to otherwise.”

Yett also represents Lamar as a student ambassador. 

“Being an ambassador has been a good experience,” he said. “I got to meet President Evans. I was impressed with what he was doing (to help Lamar) just as I was impressed with President Simmons before him.”

As an ambassador, Yett helped at the recent scholarship dinner where sponsors have the opportunity to meet recipients of their named scholarships, and helped at the recent Judge Joe. J. Fisher Distinguished Lecture that brought Jon Huntsman to campus.

One of the strengths of Lamar’s College of Engineering is its active co-operative education program. Internships and co-ops give students the opportunity to explore in depth different areas of a career field. “I can find out what is out there,” he said. 

In engineering, he’s enjoyed the electromagnetics and power engineering courses the most so far. “Right now, I am leaning more toward the design aspects of electrical engineering rather than the planning side.”

Yett completed an internship last summer with BASF in Lake Jackson working in the instrumentation group, and is now in a co-op with Gerdau Steel’s Beaumont mill.  “I am with the maintenance and reliability department,” he said, working with the mill’s safety program “to make sure everything is running smoothly” and safely. 

Outside of his engineering courses, his favorite professors have been Paul Dawkins and Cristian Bahrim. “I took three math classes in a row with Dr. Dawkins, and I wish I could find some more (classes) that he could teach me,” he said.  Under Bahrim’s teaching, he’s enjoyed Honors Physics II and Modern Physics “which is pretty electrical related,” he said. “I have learned a lot from him and Dr. Dawkins as well.”