UND online education allows Baltimore resident to pursue bachelor's while maintaining a busy career

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UND online education allows Baltimore resident to pursue bachelor's while maintaining a busy career

It was a welcome discovery for Baltimore resident Ethan Vidal that the University of North Dakota’s online distance learning program gave him the ability to work, travel and be a student all at the same time.

Vidal, 27, is taking online courses in civil engineering through the accredited UND College of Engineering & Mines program.

Vidal worked as a technical recruiter out of college, and ended up recruiting himself into a great company with a complex job. Today, he investigates pressurized water pipelines, looking for leaks and damage with exclusive technology.

Before starting as a UND student, Vidal had a bachelor’s degree in psychology from a different school; however, he wanted a second undergraduate degree in civil engineering to supplement his new career.

“I quickly realized that I wanted an engineering degree to help me better understand our work,” said Vidal. “But with work constantly sending me around the world on projects, I needed an undergraduate degree program with some flexibility.”

In 2012, Vidal discovered that UND was the only program in the country, at the time, that offered a distance-based bachelor’s in engineering that was accredited.

“That’s how I became a member of ‘Nodak Nation,’” said Vidal. “I wanted a degree worth more than the paper it would be printed on, so a fully accredited program was essential for me.”

Vidal jumpstarted with calculus in 2012 and has been taking about two courses a semester since then.

During the summer, Vidal takes part in on-campus instruction that includes hands-on labs, classroom lectures and the opportunity to interact with faculty and other students.

The frequent traveler has experienced a few bumps along the way.

“I have run into a couple of issues with my travel schedule for work, being out of town or out of the country for assignment submissions,” explained Vidal. “However, if I’m proactive, all of my professors are willing to work with me through the unique challenges of balancing academic and professional demands.”

Vidal, who gets lot of support from his fiancée, Joanna Diamond, has been able to tackle school, travel the world, earn work promotions, move four times and has had the chance to experience life to its fullest.

“I am traveling around 75 percent of my time, so I love the flexibility that the online program offers,” said Vidal. “Life doesn’t slow down for me.”

Teresa DiGregorio University & Public Affairs student writer

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