Alba Garcia-Sarabia

Student Spotlight: Alba Garcia-Sarabia

May 15, 2024
By Ashley Ritchie

Meet Alba Garcia-Sarabia, a second-year mechanical engineering student from Miami, Florida. In this student spotlight, Alba talks about why she chose to study at Georgia Tech, what she likes most about her major, her experience studying abroad, and what advice she would give to prospective students.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m Alba Garcia-Sarabia. I’m a second year mechanical engineering major from Miami, Florida.

Why did you choose to study at Georgia Tech?

I had heard of Georgia Tech through my major’s top ranked schools, but once I visited I fell in love. Combine that with the variety of programs and extracurricular activities Tech offers, and it became my dream school the more I learned about it. Since being here, I have been pleasantly surprised by things I didn’t know would be here. For example, I thought of Tech as this little nerd school, so it’s fun to discover how much of an athletic atmosphere we have. If you look for it, I suggest checking out our football games and even club sports.   

How did you become interested in mechanical engineering? 

Ever since I was in first grade I knew I had an interest in how things were made and how they worked. I decided I wanted to be an engineer when I was in second grade, which sounds early, but the only reason it wasn’t first grade was because at that age I thought engineering meant plumbing and little me did not want to do that. Throughout time, I narrowed down the engineering I liked more and found that mechanical engineering was the ideal combination of the logic of problem-solving, the knowledge of engineering principles, and the creativity of design.

In your opinion, what is the best thing about your major? 

The best thing about my major is the freedom and variety of it. I always thought mechanical engineering was very hands on, and while I still think that’s true, being at Tech has made me realize that mechanical engineering has more to it. It has what I deem to be three main thread paths that can then be applied to various industries: the design and manufacturing side, the coding side, and the physics side. While you need a good understanding of all the basics, you can then specialize down different paths further on in life.

What clubs or after-school activities are you involved in?

I’m involved in EcoCAR and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). For EcoCAR, I’m on the communications team, so I help with our social media, write reports, and help coordinate and plan outreach events. With Society of Women Engineers, I attend weekly networking events and learn about different companies and career paths for girls at Tech.

Can you tell us more about your involvement with the Student Competition Center teams?

Tech has seven Student Competition Center (SCC) teams that range all over the realm/industry of automotive goals. My second semester at Tech I was part of Solar Racing, and now I am a part of Tech’s EcoCAR EV Challenge Team. Both are four-year long competition cycles with different goals. Solar Racing builds a solar-powered car for an endurance competition while EcoCAR converts a RWD Cadillac LYRIQ to AWD and increases its automation. I realized the goals of each and what I wanted the experience to give me and acted accordingly. Time management is also a big thing as these teams require a lot of time (but I know many people who spend hours on end in the SCC and love it immensely).

Can you tell us more about your experience with the study abroad program?

Georgia Tech offers two First Year Semester Abroad (FYSA) programs, and I was part of Tech’s inaugural FYSA @ Oxford cohort, which adapts Tech’s Oxford Summer Program for freshmen. We spent six weeks at Oxford staying in their dorms while learning from Georgia Tech professors in Oxford facilities and then spent six weeks on the road traveling Europe with two of our other Tech professors. I cannot recommend this program enough. I met some of my closest friends through this program and gained once-in-a-lifetime experiences alongside them. It’s very different traveling with other people your age then it is with your family, but it’s something I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

Are there any classes you have taken at Georgia Tech that have been memorable?

ME 2110 is a standout, as I’m sure every mechanical engineering undergrad will tell you. You are given about 10 weeks to design, build, and test a robot to complete certain tasks, which culminates in the final competition. It definitely felt like being thrown into the deep end and there’s a lot of redesigning, a lot of task delegation, and time needs to be allocated appropriately (I cannot stress this last bit enough). All of this being said, it is incredibly satisfying and rewarding when it works. I personally also loved ME 2016. This class is listed as Computing Techniques, but you will also hear it called Numerical Methods, which might be a more apt name. This class is all about learning mathematical ways to classify, organize, extrapolate, and interpolate data and how to do them in MATLAB. Prior to this I thought coding and I would never be friends, but that class gave me a newfound appreciation for it, and it actually became one of my favorite classes I’ve taken at Tech. 

What are some of your hobbies? 

I love reading, traveling, baking, and talking with people (my friends will back me up on this one, I am a chatterbox).

What’s one fun fact about yourself? 

I’ve done 100km of El Camino de Santiago (a hike in the north of Spain) with my family over the course of five days.

So far, what has been the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Balancing a high course load and my sanity. Honestly, all jokes aside, I am proud of having a good balance between academics and a social life.

What do you look forward to doing in the future? 

Short term: learning more and graduating (possibly another study abroad along the way). Long-term: finding a job that allows me to implement the things I like. I’m not one of those people who has life figured out, so I’m still exploring things (mechanical engineering is so broad, one of its perks). I have a lot of interests, so ideally if I can find a blend of those (like communication and engineering) it would be the best, but I realize life doesn’t always work out the way we want it to.

What advice do you have for high school students thinking about coming to Georgia Tech? 

My advice is do your research! Tech has so much to offer you might just stumble upon something that makes you fall in love. Visit! We have a lovely campus; as an out-of-stater I wasn’t sure about coming to Atlanta, but Tech’s campus is a wonderful meld of being a protective, safe bubble while also being next to a vibrant city with loads of things to do (concerts are a personal favorite of mine). If you can, talk to someone who goes here, they’ll be able to give you an honest perspective. We love it here, but we won’t sugarcoat, Tech has hard classes and will require work, but the reward is worth it.

Alba Garcia-Sarabia
Alba Garcia-Sarabia