Exceeding, the electrical engineer’s way

Alex Begala, senior electrical engineering major, said the first exam in his freshman math class tanked his grade. Begala said he wasn’t going to give up and had to work harder. He said he went to Student Academic Support, which helped him with his classes.

Begala is now giving back as a tutor at SAS.

“I know what it’s like to come in, be the new kid on the block and not know where to go. Intimidation sets in,” Begala said. “I’m able to help these guys build up confidence they need and they’ll be able to find their stride and take off.”

Begala also enjoys helping others because of his origins.

“Growing up, my dad told me, ‘if people need your help, help them out because that’s what you have to do. You help them out, they’ll help you out and it ultimately works at the end of the day,’” Begala said.

His father was a big influence on why he pursued electrical engineering and chose to study it, adding a mechatronics minor.

“I looked into what mechatronics is and how a big part is automation robotics and I thought it was the coolest thing ever, I have to get into this,” Begala said. “I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made because if I didn’t pick that, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now,” Begala said.

Begala accepted a full-time position at ArcelorMittal, a steel production company in East Chicago, which he begins after he graduates in May. He was an intern there last summer.

During his first day at ArcelorMittal, Begala was not taken seriously during an important meeting. The higher-level employees wanted to transport steel coils from one place to another efficiently and proposed a conveyor belt system. Begala said they could not illustrate it.

Begala offered a solution, but they questioned him. He was told to proceed by his boss.

Begala searched for the door chasing scene from the Disney movie “Monster’s Inc.” on YouTube. The characters are travelling on a fast, conveyor door system moving in the air. He found the video, but saw nobody looking. Begala cranked up the volume, pressed play and paused it.

“Instantly got everyone’s attention because Mark, the head honcho, was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what is going on?’” Begala said. “Then I’m like, ‘Okay, now I got your attention, pretend that instead of a door, it’s a steel coil and then everything else is pretty much the same, how it’s moving from one side to the other. Everything’s in the air, it’s quick, nobody’s going to mess it up, it’s fantastic,’” Begala said.

Begala said they were all on board. He said starting his career at ArcelorMittal will help him reach his dream of becoming a Disney Imagineer, an engineer for the Disney theme parks.

“I want to work on roller coaster designs and create attractions. I want people to see it,” Begala said. “They’re going to want to go back home and tell their friends about it and bring them to see it.”

During a family trip to Disney World, his father gave him the idea to be a Disney Imagineer.

“My dad has always been there for me and has been able to point me in the direction when I needed it,” Begala said. “You can lose everything and will always have family. When you absolutely die-hard need it, they will always find a way to help.”

Begala said he is thankful for his family and friends and he’s motivated to make them proud. Another factor that motivates Begala is his goal to say he did his best at the end of the day.

“The best way to pay them back and show I really care about them is to work as hard as I can,” Begala said.

Michael Wilk, coordinator of Student Academic Support, said Begala’s clear vision of the future is what will make him succeed. Wilk, who has known Begala for three years, sees Begala as a good employee.

“He knows what he wants to do for sure, sets realistic goals for himself and enjoys helping others,” Wilk said. “He’s definitely eager to learn and open to suggestions to improve in any way he can.”

Wilk believes Begala can teach others to be unashamed about asking for help, communicating openly, being involved in school and taking pride in what they do.

Begala believes the happier one is, the better the work. He said this helps with his stress.

“There is a large difference between working on something you are passionate about versus working on something you honestly can’t stand. That shows not only in the rate it gets done, but in the quality,” Begala said.

Begala said he doesn’t know how, but he’s always able to overcome. He said the advice is cliche, old and tired, but that students should not give up and should remain positive. When making mistakes, own up to them and don’t repeat them.