Author Archives: Darren Ujano, Civil Engineering

About Darren Ujano, Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering and I am employed by UIC Campus Housing as well as Project SYNCERE. Fun fact: I love eating Oreos

Postponing Article


Unfortunately, I am unable to provide this week’s article as I am at a hospital helping my dad recover from an illness.

In addition, a tribute to 9/11 this weekend I wish to pay respects to those who have passed and to salute those serving our nation in a time of need.

Thank you all and god bless,
-Darren Ujano

Top 5: Tips to Get Higher Grades & UIC Spark in the Park

Hey Flames!

Just got back from UIC’s 2nd Annual Spark in the Park Music Fest!– featuring Lupe Fiasco with special guest The Cool Kids, Flosstradamus, and The Hood Internet.

The Chicago sunset with The Cool Kids performing before Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco entering the stage!!! Performed Superstar, Kick Push, Beautiful Lasers, The Show Goes On, and much more.

Other than that, an absolutely exciting week as I give you my,

Top 5: “Tips to Get Higher Grades”

5. Create a “Game Plan”
Get down and read the syllabus. Know how the points are divided, then create a studying plan on how to get an A. Throughout the semester, be sure to calculate your grade and know what you need to get to pull off a passing/high grade.

ME 250 class spring 2011. Creating a game plan will ease out the semester. It was simple to create this 10-week golf project.

4. Know thyself
Know your strengths and weaknesses; meaning, if math isn’t your thing, then plan on spending time on it. Know your best study conditions as well, like studying at the library and create a study group when it helps.

CME 205 Professor encouraging study groups to solve this quiz problem, realizing that there's an error in calculations

3. Ask Questions and Volunteer
Know the material– in some, but not all difficult classes, you are literally competing for your grade. For instance, my physics professor a year ago only awarded A’s to the top 10 students in the class. So ask questions, volunteer, and get extra credit whenever possible, because that 1% grade difference will be the game breaker.

2. Attention to Detail

CME 205 notes with colored pen

     I learned this in the military and the same goes in university life. Always make sure your well prepared for class, taking the most accurate notes, keeping well organized; because in the end, the student with the better game will come out on top.

1. “If you ain’t first, your last” -Ricky bobby, Talladega Nights

This applies to where you sit in class. Sitting in the front row saved my butt multiple times and gave me higher grades. Not only will the professor get to know you, but you can hear them better, see the board better, know whats happening in class, sit with the most active students, and most importantly not doze off.

Sitting in the back of class is very difficult to see or even hear the professor

Tuesday, I did a photo shoot with UIC photographers at Millennium Park. Random fact, that was the first time I had a make-up artist. As a thank you, they gave me a $25 gift card to the bookstore which leads me to the question of the week.

TOPIC NEXT WEEK:  “Top 3: Things Not to Do During Class”

 QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What’s the best way to spend $25 at the UIC Bookstore?

ANSWER FOR LAST WEEK: SCE’s previous name was CCC, Chicago Circle Center. 

So What Classes You Taking??

Good morning UIC!!!!!

Frenzy everywhere as students hit classes for the fall semester. So to everyone!– here’s my class schedule with class description. Next week I will hand you guys my secret Top 5: Tips to Get Higher Grades.

CME 315: Soil Mechanics

Soil mechanics are part of the spectrum of Geomaterials in which it lay the foundation for research towards chemically amended soils, recycling wastes and byproducts, high water content materials, Geosynthetics and more.

CME 302: Transportation Engineering

Studying Traffic on Roosevelt road near UIC South Campus

In this class we design, operate, and plan transportation systems utilizing various technologies; in addition, practice our methods to the transportation system throughout Chicago in efforts to resolve urban gridlock.

CME 216: Environmental Engineering

Actually, this a guest lecturer from CME 315 speaking about ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials) and the various supervising environmental committees

We explore common environmental engineering challenges and create designs for waste and water problems while accounting for the effects of man-made projects on resources.

CME 205: Structural Analysis

Not really a structures class picture-- but the JST Staff creating a pyramid using a common truss support system found in statics books

Classic analysis of truss supports, beams, and frames utilizing common methods such as displacements, shear, and bending moments.

That’s all for this week again! Comment and post with what classes your taking!!!

TOPIC NEXT WEEK: ”Top 5: Tips to get higher grades”

LAST WEEK ANSWER: Last date to drop a class without a withdraw is next Friday September 2nd, 2011 (UIC Catalog)

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What was the previous name of SCE (Student Center East)?


5-Day Countdown


Here’s a snippet of my past 5 days through the eyes of JST.

**Day 5: Last Day of Training (Monday)

After Integrating Academics Into Your Community session, RA/PMs assembled at the South Athletic Fields for FIELD DAY.

**Day 4: Last Minute Preparations

I went around helping RA/PMs with bulletin boards and door-decs. Afterwards I went around JST seeing my staffs awesome bulletin boards and door-decs.

**Day 3: Freshman Opening

I supervised the South Campus Move-in Crew and welcomed hundreds of freshman residents and parents into JST.

After moving in and the freshman floor dinner, they were brought to the Freshman Dinner with special guest Jim Compton, former graduate of UIC and now Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer for United Airlines.

Following the Freshman Dinner, residents were invited to floor programs such as the one depicted above titled, “Game Night.”

**Day 2: Continued Move-in Day

All other residents are now welcomed to move into JST. We had the JST Parents Association table setup as well as those interested in JST Hall Council.

**Today: New Student Days Activities

Listed below were New Student Days activities that continued throughout the week starting that Thursday. Take a look at what we have in store for residents.

I will be attending various NSD session throughout Friday.

That’s it for the week. Feel free to say hey to me on campus!


TOPIC NEXT WEEK: First Day of Classes

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: When is the final drop date for classes?

ANSWER LAST WEEK: If your favorite color is red, your ambitious, passionate, excited, and courageous.  







“It’s not a dorm, it’s a residence hall!” -Campus Housing

Hey UIC!

Freshman Move-in Day is in T-minus 5 Days!– RAs and PMs all over campus are scrambling all of their creativity to place door-decs, bulletin boards, welcome letters, and room goodies!

The RA/PM staff training is near the end. Below is the picture of the JST Staff at a lunch meeting with the FIR (Faculty in Residence) and doing door-decs and bulletin boards in the C Tower Lounge.

JST: Resident Director, Senior Staff, RA/PM Staff

JST Staff creating bulletin boards and door-decs while watching a movie

This is my first year being on Senior Staff for Campus Housing. The supervisor role is definitely a fun learning experience. Since RA/PM Training is nearing to an end. Here’s my:

Top 3: “Things I Learned From RA/PM Training” (Resident Assistant/Peer Mentor)

3. Policies and Procedures
There are many policies outlined in the Resident Handbook and RA/PMs have to know and be able to identify them. If in any situation arises, the RA/PM has to familiarize themselves on how to resolve each policy on a case-by-case basis.

Policy and Procedure Review Game By Resident Director Amanda

2. Safety on Campus
We were introduced to the UIC have a Campus Advocacy Network, Crisis Hotline, Wellness Center, and UIC Police. A former Chicago Police Officer also presented on how to react if shots were fired on campus, a reality that every campus must be prepared for in case it does happen.

1. Behind Closed Doors
Signifying the true test of every RA/PM is what we call “Behind Closed Doors.” For nearly 5 hours, we exercise the abilities of an RA/PM to resolve any given situation. This can range from common to extreme scenarios– roommate conflict, party/drug situations, to an active shooter in residence halls.

Boundaries Training

That is all I have this week! See you next week!

TOPIC NEXT WEEK: Freshman Move-in

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is your favorite color?



Preparing for UIC’s “The Big Move-in ” Day


Campus Housing is counting down the days before “The Big Move-in.” More than 3,500 Residents will be pouring into our residence halls.

I’ve been in intense Senior Staff and Assistant Director training for the past two days. The picture below is of our first kickoff meeting for training with a speech by Associate Director William Washington, followed by Director of Housing Susan Teggatz.

Associate Director of Housing, William Washington

The picture below is during one of our Supervisory Lectures of the ‘Sociogram’ in which visualizes resident’s interest, classes, and more to help cater to the student’s needs.

To the left, Area Coordinator Priscilla Velarde and Joe Timson.

During training, they emphasize on the benefits of living in Campus Housing. So I decided to write a quick Top 3: Reasons to Live in Campus Housing article.

3. Great Price
I’ve heard residents complain about the price for housing. It’s truly about what you make of the program. If students put in the effort to utilize housing then it really is definitely a place worth residing.

Free laundry, printing, wireless internet, study areas, facilities repair– don’t have to worry about electricity, water, or gas bills– discounted tickets to theater shows, sports tickets, and movies; also leadership, job, and career opportunities.

Taking residents to Lincoln Park Zoo

2. Home Away From Home
Our staff truly puts in the effort to make Campus Housing your home away from home. Your RA will invite you to floor dinners, programs, and outings while your PM helps with tutoring, classes, and UIC. Both of them are there to also offer support and act as a resource for UIC.

TBH residents hanging out at Grant Park

1. Educational Advantage
Plenty of leadership opportunities as well as networking with faculty, students, jobs, Chicago Businesses and more. Don’t have to commute far and invest more time into studying with other floor-mates in similar classes.

So that’s it for this week. Darren out!

TOPIC FOR NEXT WEEK: Behind the scenes of leading RAs 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Where was UIC before it moved to it’s current location today?

ANSWER LAST WEEK: Captain America’s shield before the circle was actually a triangle. 

Top 5 Tips: Smooth Move-in Day Into Campus Housing

Hey UIC!

Throughout my years in Campus Housing, I’ve carefully mastered the skills necessary to survive move-in day to Campus Housing. Time to deliver my secrets, so here it is:

5. Plan the layout of your room.
Shoot an email! Call your roommate! See how you would like to layout your room and what to bring. This includes TV, game system, Micro-Fridge, or anything else. Schedule a tour of your room if you haven’t seen it yet.

4. Roommate Agreement Conditions
Through my years as an RA, residents who don’t fill out the agreement forms tend to have roommate conflicts which build stress and tension throughout your year. Talk to your roommate about guest hours, when to take out trash, quiet hours, and more.

3. Find Chicago Errand Hotspots
Want late night ramen noodles? Microwavable mac and cheese? Find the closest grocery store around your residence hall. You can also find restaurants, barber shops, electronic stores, as well.

2. Bring your own move-in cart and vacuum
Campus Housing does provide vacuums and carts; however, there may be a waitlist to obtain one. I recommend bringing in your own cart and vacuum.

1. Plan it out to the littlest detail
Once you plan a date to move-in, you can call your friends and family and say you need help that day. Make sure your on your game with time. Move-in day can be a long, stressful, and hard process, but you can celebrate at a nearby restaurant.

So my top 5 secrets revealed! Next week I’ll post pictures of my room too! A Senior RA room in JST.

TOPIC NEXT WEEK: Senior RA Training and pictures of my new JST room!

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is the UIC Sales tax?

Preparing for RA/PM Training- Campus Housing

Hey UIC!

I just got back from watching Captain America and as Steve Rogers best says it, “I feel taller.” So Resident Assistant and Peer Mentor training begins in a few weeks and we’re all excited! Campus Housing is ready to bring on what they have in store for this academic year.

Below is an inside-scoop picture of our staff training where our Resident Director Brian Johnson explains how to get transfer students involved in an apartment-style community through programming.

The role of an RA is to develop and maintain a vibrant community within our residence halls while also providing residents learning experiences through their time in Campus Housing. On the flip side, a PM provides residents resources and guidance in order to successfully navigate through UIC academics, careers, and more in the city.

The picture above is a book club that one of our RAs put together and Campus Housing purchased the books titled, “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch, for our residents. An overall inspiring non-fiction book about a dying professor at Carnegie Mellon and making his last lecture about “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.”

The last picture is of the TBH/MRH South Campus Apartment Staff. For a celebration at the end of our RA Winter Retreat Training, Campus Housing took us to a UIC Basketball game and paid for pizza and drinks.

After freshman year, residents are eligible to apply for the RA/PM position if they meet the job minimum requirements specified in the application. I’ll get more into detail once the applications are out in the fall semester.

It’s been a blast, see you guys next week!

TOPIC NEXT WEEK: Top 5 Tips ‘to have a smooth move-in day to Campus Housing’

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What was the shape of Captain America’s shield before the well known circle today?

Freshman Year in Campus Housing

Hey all!

My freshman pics! It’s been awhile since I’ve seen these—we all definitely grew up since then.

I entered UIC back in Fall of 2007. I was actually on the wait-list for Campus Housing and it wasn’t until the 3rd week of classes that I moved into PSR (Polk Street Residence) on West Campus. At first I was afraid to leave home, but I wanted to venture into the city and college life… plus, I couldn’t stand the 2 hours commute.

Nothing is like your freshman year floor! Some of my closest friends I made here. Meeting my roommate for the first time and he was a pharmacy student. I was a little intimidated at first but he was one of the coolest  people I’ve met.  Next week I’ll talk about my work in Campus Housing and what I do as a Resident Assistant (RA).

For more photos of my freshman year, here’s the link to my Picasa Photo Album:

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is the UIC Campus Housing motto?

WHAT DID I LEARN THIS WEEK: Lincoln Park Zoo is the country’s oldest public zoo.

TOPIC NEXT WEEK: Explore the side of a Resident Assistant.

First Post- About Me & ROTC

Hello Chicago!

My first blog post and I’m not sure where to start! I guess I’ll start with a little about me; I entered UIC Fall of 2007 and I’m currently studying Civil Engineering. I also serve as a Senior Resident Assistant for Campus Housing and my activities include the Army ROTC.

Summer has been inspiring, I’ve been researching in collaboration with the Army ROTC and inner-city Chicago Public Schools to develop and implement alternative leadership programs for students and high-risk teens. Through this, we can hope to increase city-college enrollment by providing soldiers, officers, and mentors as role model for students.

Meanwhile, surprising morning July 6th– I was in the Chicago Tribune! In the article, We were at the UIC Marketplace for Freshman Orientation talking about the Army ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps). Of the many universities across the country, only 250 have an ROTC program and UIC is of the fortunate few. The Chicago Tribune article link is:,0,3386101.story

That’s all I have for you this week. See you all next time.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Name the one food that is sugary sweet, and does not spoil no matter how late you eat!

WHAT I LEARNED THIS WEEK: Buying food in the city can sometimes be cheaper than cooking.

TOPIC NEXT WEEK: Campus Housing fun and looking back at my freshman photos =)

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