Engineering a brighter future
When Koji Muto was a senior at the University of Rochester, he decided to join the George Eastman Circle. After graduating in 2015 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a BA in Business, Koji eventually joined ExxonMobil as a Project Development Engineer in Houston, Texas. He exemplifies Meliora, also serving as a member of the Hajim Young Leadership Council and the Houston Network Leadership Cabinet.
First thing’s first. Why did you decide to attend the University of Rochester?
Koji Muto: The world-renowned faculty, customizable curriculum, and beautiful campus were all strong influencers, but my decision to attend Rochester was primarily based on financial aid. My parents were not in a position to support me financially, and I wanted to avoid graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Rochester offered a generous financial aid package, funded in part by alumni donations. With additional scholarships, my total cost of attendance came out to less than my sister, who attended a state school at in-state tuition. I’ll never forget how fortunate I was to be provided the opportunity to attend Rochester.
Tell us about your current role at ExxonMobil, and how your Rochester experience made a difference in your professional career.
KM: I am a mechanical engineer supporting design development of capital projects. My experience with University clubs and organizations made a particularly impactful difference in my professional career. Rochester has a great focus on student-run organizations. The faculty have always been happy to support ideas for new clubs or events. It’s an invaluable opportunity to build leadership skills by pursuing personal ventures in a low-stakes environment. It fed my creativity, ambition, and sense of ownership. All critical traits that have helped me professionally.
We are honored that you joined the George Eastman Circle before you even graduated in 2015! That’s an incredible demonstration of leadership. What motivated you to take that path?
KM: I’ve always felt indebted to alumni who donated and funded the scholarships that allowed me to attend Rochester. Returning that favor to future students is the least I could do. It certainly was not an easy decision, but this University is fortunate to have some truly amazing alumni who inspired me to take similar steps. Great names like Ed Hajim, Gwen Greene, and Barbara Burger. Hearing their stories and witnessing all they do for the University – it’s contagious!
Do you have a favorite memory or experience while you were attending the University of Rochester? What was it?
KM: As cliché as it is, the memory I’ll carry with me forever is my first day of sophomore year when I saw the most amazing girl walk into my mechanical engineering class. I would later find out she transferred over from biomedical engineering, which is why I never saw her freshmen year. She’s here with me in Houston now, and we just celebrated our four-year anniversary in New Orleans. I’m not sure how much credit the University can take for that, but it certainly reinforced that I came to the right school.
You live in Houston, Texas – which is more than 1,550 miles from Rochester. Geography clearly knows no boundaries when it comes to making an impact. What advice would you give to fellow alumni who live across the globe and are considering how they can support Rochester?
KM: If you are not in a position to support the University with monetary donations, don’t underestimate how much of an impact you can make by supporting with your time! Whether it is helping plan local alumni events, providing industry contacts to recent graduates, or offering advice to students through University programs. It all collectively helps us build a stronger alumni support network, something powerful that lasts well beyond graduation. For many, college proved to be our most formative years. The path we continue on for the rest of our lives is oftentimes determined by the handful of years spent in Rochester. Let us build on that connection to our alma mater, and make it ever better.