Becoming an Engineer, One Extreme Hike at a Time

| April 8, 2022

USC Viterbi student Prathmesh Bakshhi translates his passion for discovery to impact communities and infrastructures across the globe.

CEE Student Prathmesh Bakshhi hiking in India.

Prathmesh Bakshhi on an extreme hiking trip in India. PHOTO/ PRATHMESH BAKSHHI.

Before Prathmesh Bakshhi dedicated himself to engineering, he dreamed of being a chef, and wanted to go to culinary school.

“I loved and still love cooking…[I cook] mostly Indian food, a lot of curries and vegetables,” said Bakshhi.

Cooking, like engineering, offered opportunities for experimentation with materials and design that Bakshhi came to love. Bakshhi studied civil engineering at Mukesh Patel School of Technology, Management, and Engineering in Mumbai, India, where he received his bachelor’s degree. While there, an initial interest in engineering solidified into a much deeper passion during his first engineering internship.

“I interned for Larsen and Toubro Water and Effluent Treatment IC in Mumbai. I worked on a huge pipeline project, where they were delivering water from a river to a nearby minority community. It was a very interesting project, and I was working maybe 12-hour days…and I still loved it, so that was my cue to know that ‘yes, I want to pursue environmental engineering in the future,’” Bakshhi said.

Bakshhi chose USC Viterbi School of Engineering to pursue his master’s degree. One big motivating factor, along with a rigorous academic program and access to cutting edge research and technology, was that the climate in Los Angeles reminded him of the weather in Mumbai.

student cooking food on grill at night

Grilling for friends. PHOTO/ PRATHMESH BAKSHHI.

Back in Mumbai, Bakshhi’s passion for exploring his environment catapulted him into a physically demanding hobby: extreme hiking, where one hikes tougher environments, temperatures, and climates than typical of an average hike down Runyon Canyon. When he gets a chance, Los Angeles is a great launching point to continue his exploration of challenging terrain.

“The most extreme hiking trip that I have ever taken was a backpacking trip to the northernmost part of India. That was five days and it was -40 degrees Fahrenheit. I have this one picture from that experience that captures my favorite bit: I’m standing in front of a frozen waterfall, which is 50 feet high, and I look like a miniature figurine in front of it,” Bakshhi said.

Since enrolling at USC Viterbi, Bakshhi has been active on campus, taking on community support roles such as Viterbi Career Ambassador (VCA), where he acts as a liaison between students and the career connections office.

“I get to meet a lot of new people from different majors,” Bakshhi said.

After graduating USC, Bakshhi plans on returning to India.

“My track for my master’s in environmental engineering is water, so I hope to work with fresh/wastewater in the future…I want to make a good career for myself and maybe even pursue a Ph.D. in the future,” Bakshhi said.

Published on April 8th, 2022

Last updated on April 8th, 2022

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