Babak Yeganeh and Aida Ashkan
Going back to school after more than a decade isn’t easy — but it’s easier when you have support.
Babak Yeganeh and Aida Ashkan, a married couple and parents of an elementary-age son, entered UNT’s master’s in construction management program together. Now, they’re graduating together.
“Going back to school 17 years after I got my bachelor’s degree was a big challenge,” Yeganeh says. “Everything changed. It was a new university and a new program. My wife was part of my success. She helped me in my courses. We both worked in the construction labs and studied together.”
Immigrants from Tehran, Iran, where they both earned their bachelor’s degrees, Yeganeh and Ashkan had experience in construction and wanted to learn more about the industry and increase their opportunities in construction management. They chose UNT’s engineering technology program due to its reputation and that of its faculty.
“Dr. Yu, our major advisor, is the pioneer in cold-form steel structure,” Yeganeh says. “His lab is one of the most-equipped labs for testing construction material.”
They also describe Cheng Yu, professor and coordinator of the construction engineering technology program, and Seifollah Nasrazadani, professor and department chair, as instructors who made a real difference in their lives.
“Dr. Nasrazadani is my role model in many aspects of my life,” Ashkan says.
They credit their experience working in the Structural Testing Laboratory, led by Yu, as a key component of their education. The laboratory employs many undergraduate and graduate students, giving them hands-on experience in construction techniques, including cold-formed steel structures, that are uncommon in the academic world.
“Working in the lab under supervision of eminent professor Dr. Yu gave me the chance to gain valuable experience and enjoy teamwork with other graduate and undergraduate students from various departments,” Ashkan says.
Yeganeh managed and supervised the laboratory’s construction team work for a tactical shelter project funded by the Army and completed in fall 2018.
“Getting my master’s in construction management, working with Dr. Yu and my experience in the construction lab helped me to find a job with one of the best civil construction companies in the U.S., HNTB, before graduation,” he says.
The couple completed their theses and moved with their son to Frisco for Yeganeh’s new position, although they continue to enjoy events on the UNT campus when they can.
“Getting my master’s at UNT is an unforgettable moment in my life,” Yeganeh says. The good atmosphere, nice professors and students, friendly culture, tons of social activity and fun make UNT a university that we will always remember as family.”
Ashkan also will apply for a job in construction management. Though a master’s is currently the most advanced degree UNT offers in engineering technology, she says if UNT ever offers a doctorate in the program, she’d love to return.
“I can’t stop thinking about a Ph.D. program,” she says.