College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Pursue your passion at Iowa State – Engineer at ISU CCEE

Personal experience is interwoven in student’s professional goals

Being a minority in the United States has given Hongtao Dang first-hand insight into his area of focus. In his role as a doctoral researcher, Dang is studying disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE). These are economically or socially disadvantaged persons who, for example, start a business or face discrimination when in business.

“I want to live in the U.S.,” Dang says. “If I do so, I will be a DBE … How do you understand [your role] in the society and the people around you? That’s very interesting to me.”

Being able to tailor his research to his interests is crucial to Dang’s Iowa State experience. He is currently studying DBEs in the construction engineering industry. This work explores how DBEs are treated within the industry and what resources they need to advance from one industry maturity level to the next. It also looks into the ways industries create a more level playing field for DBEs in the business market.

Dang actually chose Iowa State for his educational adventure not once, but twice. Originally from China, Dang took part in a joint program with Iowa State for his undergraduate degree. Though many parts of campus are special, the university (and its department of civil, construction and environmental engineering) has an especially outstanding feature.

“The things we have at Iowa State – the people, resources, equipment, the laboratories – I think I would rank the people as the number one,” he says.

Note: In May-July 2018, Iowa State University College of Engineering Communications is setting out to find the top reasons why graduate students choose to pursue their educations at ISU CCEE. “Engineer at ISU CCEE” is a video/written series featuring graduate students from ISU CCEE. Each student shares his or her unique reason for choosing Iowa State. Find out more about the graduate experience at ISU CCEE by following this series, “Engineer at ISU CCEE,” on our FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn accounts (Iowa State University Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering or ISUConE).