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Engineering Topnotcher Uses a Car Battery to Study for 1 Month

This civil engineering student got hit by typhoon Odette hard but still managed to top the board exam

This civil engineering student got hit by typhoon Odette hard but still managed to top the board exam. They have no electricity for one month, so this engineering topnotcher uses a car battery to study. He never gives up, he never quit, because real engineers persevere!


There are some things in life that we have no control over, but that doesn’t mean that we let them get in the way of chasing our dreams.

This was what Engr. Kaizen Daniel G. Oriel kept in mind as he struggled with the devastating effects of Typhoon Odette while reviewing for the Civil Engineering board exam.

Despite this unexpected hurdle, he still overcame the challenge and emerged in the Top 8 in the May 2022 Civil Engineering Licensure Exam (CELE) with a rating of 92.2%.

In his interview with GineersNow, we learned how he did it.

Kaizen, or Kai for short, has been a math wizard ever since his high school days.

He was one of the few students in his class who actually enjoyed the subject and excelled in it.

This Civil Engineering Student Got Hit by Typhoon Odette Hard But Still Managed to Top the Board Exam
Engineering Topnotcher Uses a Car Battery to Study for 1 Month

Kai’s love for math was coupled with his interest in the architectural and structural buildings of the world.

During his downtime, he would watch shows featuring these marvels and gaze in awe at how intricate the designs were.

His passion for both of these things led him to enroll in Civil Engineering at the University of San Carlos in Cebu City. And he did not regret it one bit.

Just as expected, he enjoyed his time as a civil engineering student.

He particularly loved his subjects related to structural design as they helped him get a better grasp of how to design buildings efficiently.

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Like any other college student, Kai still struggled in other subjects.

In fact, there were ones where he barely passed.

But thankfully, he didn’t fail any subject and always kept in mind that any difficulty can be surpassed with the right mindset and confidence.

Kai’s fifth year in college came, and this was where things took a bit of a hard turn for him.

Right in the middle of their thesis, the world went into lockdown because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

They had a hard time finishing their research since they didn’t have the right tools and equipment and had no access to laboratories.

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Lucky for them, their professors were very understanding and went out of their way to help them complete their thesis.

Finally, after months of struggling with college life, Kai finally graduated albeit with no ceremony due to the lockdown.

Nonetheless, he was nothing short of ecstatic that he could now get started with the review for the CE licensure exam.

At first, he reviewed by himself and then enrolled in a review center to get a better grasp of which topics to focus on.

While reviewing, he also found a part-time job as a Course Hero tutor, which helped him fund his daily needs.

Unfortunately, his efforts were all for naught as the May 2021 exam was postponed.

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Instead of continuing with his review, he decided to put it on hold and start working instead.

He managed to land a job for a real estate developer in Lahug, Cebu City.

Despite his busy schedule, he made it a point to review as soon as he got home from work.

However, this didn’t work out well for him due to his long commute from Lahug to his hometown in Minglanilla.

He would also frequently render overtime, which took up most of his review time.

On top of these, Typhoon Odette, which hit the country in December 2021, made things a lot harder for Kai.

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The damage it brought to Cebu went way beyond his expectations, and it severely affected him and his family.

They were out of water and electricity for over a month.

They had to spend days cleaning and repairing their home.

The good news was that they had a car inverter they used for charging their electronics, so he still had a way to read his materials even a little bit every day.

Around this time, Kai also decided it was best to resign from his work, so he would have more time for reviewing and caring for his family.

While this was a good decision, he admitted that he still felt stressed about the exam.

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They were still recovering from the effects of Typhoon Odette, and by the time the power was brought back to their area, he had only three months left to review.

He had to catch up, and he had to catch up fast.

Fortunately for him, his friends, who also suffered from the wrath of Typhoon Odette, happily supported him.

They decided to rent an apartment together to make the review a lot easier for all of them.

This was what motivated Kai to get back on his feet and finish what he started.

On the day of the board exam, he was still a little nervous but after seeing the questions, he found the exam pretty average.

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He was confident that he would pass, but topping the boards was a little far-fetched in his opinion.

There were many topics that he didn’t get to study for, and some questions really came out of nowhere.

He was ready to bid goodbye to his dream of becoming a topnotcher.

That was until the results were finally released and he began receiving dozens of congratulatory messages from friends and family.

Kai couldn’t believe it at first, but seeing his name on the list with his own eyes put a massive smile on his face.

He did it. He really did it.

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Engineering Topnotcher Uses a Car Battery to Study for 1 Month

In an interview with GineersNow, Engr. Kai shared with us his review secrets.


My Student Life


Why did you choose this course? Who or what was your inspiration?

When I was in high school, I always excelled in mathematics.

It was a subject I enjoyed answering which is why I decided to enroll in a course related to mathematics.

I also used to watch shows that would feature architectural and structural marvels around the world, and that got me interested in Civil Engineering.

I thought at that time, only focused on the design of buildings.

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What are your favorite subjects in your entire engineering study? How about least liked subjects?

My favorite subjects were the ones related to structural design, including Mechanics and Theory of Structures.

These subjects were what I wanted to learn when I enrolled in Civil Engineering, and I was interested in understanding how the different formulas were derived and the processes involved in designing buildings.

My least favorite subjects were the ones related to water resources engineering.

I had a hard time grasping the concepts involved in these subjects.

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Have you had any subject failures or disappointing academic performance to the very least? If yes, what did you do about it? How did you cope?

I have not experienced subject failures.

There were some subjects I struggled with and some subjects.

I barely passed but I just always had this confidence in myself that no matter what difficulties I face.

I would be able to find a way to pass the subjects.

I would also ask for help from my classmates and have them explain to me different concepts that I found difficult to understand.

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What are your most difficult and most painful experiences during college life? What are your greatest struggles while in college?

My most difficult experience was when we were in the middle of our thesis, the pandemic had just started and the lockdown was implemented.

A lot of what we had already done was no longer possible without access to materials, tools/equipment, and laboratories.

My greatest struggle was self-doubt.

I doubted whether Civil Engineering was right for me and if it was what I wanted to do in life.

But I continued and was motivated by teachers who would really go out of their way to help the students understand the lessons.

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Any topnotcher study tips or tricks that you think others should emulate from you?

Don’t deprive yourself of the things you enjoy and don’t feel guilty spending time to relax, watch shows, play games, as long as you do these in moderation.

Enroll in a review center that fits your studying style.

Answer previous board exams as much as you can.

I recommend going through the previous board exams more than once to familiarize yourselves with the questions and improve how fast you solve different problems.

Lastly, I personally found it comforting and easier for me when I had friends to study with.

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What is the best engineering school advice that you can give to other students?

Master the basics and don’t just rely on the formulas given to you.

Once you understand how they are derived, it becomes easier to memorize and manipulate to fit any problem.

Most importantly, don’t compare yourselves with others.

Do not put unnecessary pressure on yourselves, everyone has their own pace when it comes to studying and as long as you persevere.

It will all be worth it.


My Board Exam Experience

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What were the greatest struggles that you experienced while preparing for the board exam? What did you do to overcome them?

My greatest struggles were the postponement of board exams, the lockdown, Typhoon Odette, and having to quit my work.

All these had really put me under a lot of stress which almost made me lose the motivation to take the board exams last May 1-2, 2022.

I always just told myself that I am closer than ever to my goal and just continued studying until I found motivation again.

My friends and I found an apartment to stay in while reviewing.

So I did not feel alone while studying and we were able to understand each other’s struggles since we went through similar experiences.

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Did you enroll in a center for your review? Do you recommend doing so? Which one did you go to?

Yes, I enrolled in one of the best review centers in the Philippines.

I do recommend enrolling because being able to ask questions about things you don’t understand.

Being able to take mock exams, and having instructors guide you will really improve your chances of passing.

This may differ though depending on someone’s preference because just answering reviewers and watching videos online will still allow you to pass the board exam. I enrolled in Megareview.

I decided to enroll there because I heard a lot of good things about them and they are able to constantly produce a lot of topnotchers.

They also cover a wide range of topics that other review centers might not be able to cover.

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Engineering Topnotcher Uses a Car Battery to Study for 1 Month

How did you find the board exam? Easy, average, or difficult?

It was average for me.

But when I compared it to previous board exams that I have answered in the reviewers, the board exam is more challenging.

This time it was a lot more difficult and a lot of topics I was not able to study appeared in the exam.

The mock exams in the review center were more difficult which also made the board exam seem a bit easier.

I got used to the difficult questions during the pre-board examinations of the review center.

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What were your expectations after you took the board exam and before the results were out? Did you have a feeling that you will be at the top?

After taking the board exam, I felt that although I was sure I passed the exam.

It was very unlikely I would come out on top, especially since a lot of the topics were unfamiliar to me.

I was not expecting that I would be a part of the top 10.

But I was still hoping that I got enough questions correct to be a part of the top 10, which has been my goal throughout my college life.

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What did you do the first minute you discovered you topped the board exam?

When the results were posted, the website would not properly load on my phone so I was not able to directly see the results.

It was just messages from my friends congratulating me which made me aware that I made it into the top 10.

I was not sure if they were joking because I felt that it was unlikely I would be able to be a part of the top so I kept on refreshing until I saw the results.

I was speechless but I just kept on smiling. My family hugged and congratulated me when they found out.

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Who do you owe your success to?

I owe my success to my family. My father, Jose Larrie M. Oriel, and my mother, Carmelita G. Oriel, for the support they provided me while I was reviewing.

To my kuya, Czar Nino Kendelle G. Oriel, who was taking the board exam with me and passed.

To my younger brother, Kenzo Kyle G. Oriel who would bring snacks home for us.

And to my youngest brother who is still 6 years old, Kaden Dylan G. Oriel.

He would always call me in the middle of studying and tell me to play with him.


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It was a great distraction from the pressure and frustration I felt while reviewing. I would also like to thank my friends who studied and took the board exam together with me.

Proud to say everyone from my group of friends were able to pass the exam.

What incentives did you get from your university and review center after your board exam success?

I have not received any yet nor have I been informed about anything but they have called and are probably finalizing the details before the incentives are given to me.

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Share your most effective study habits.

My most effective study habit was keeping a notebook that contained all the important formulas and concepts.

I also listen to music that would help me focus on my studies and studying with friends.

He Topped the Engineering Exam Despite Typhoon Odette Destroyed His House
Engineering Topnotcher Uses a Car Battery to Study for 1 Month

Give 5 important tips (in bullets) for future board exam takers who aim to become topnotchers.

  • Start reviewing as early as you can to be able to cover all the topics included in the exam.
  • Buy reviewers/books for all subjects.
  • Don’t forget to relax.
  • Answer previous board exams at least twice or thrice.
  • Finish studying everything three days before the exam so you can spend these days taking a break and going through formulas so you won’t forget. I do not advice any last minute studying.
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My Family & Love Life

Describe your family, parents, siblings (and children if applicable)

We are a family of six. My father, Jose Larrie M. Oriel, has just recently retired from Petron to pursue his passion in the construction industry. My mother, Carmelita G. Oriel, is an online seller. Her facebook page is Slay it Fashion. I have three siblings. My older brother, Czar Nino Kendelle G. Oriel, took the board exam together with me and passed. My younger brother, Kenzo Kyle G. Oriel, is currently studying Electrical Engineering in University of San Carlos and is expected to graduate this year. My youngest brother, Kaden Dylan G. Oriel, is still six years old.

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Did your parents encourage you to study engineering?

Yes, they encouraged me to study engineering. They know I am very interested in this course and I have received constant support from them throughout my college life.


Are you in a relationship? Or is it complicated?

Yes, I am in a relationship. We started dating in college and my girlfriend took the board exam together with me. She also passed the board exam last May 1-2, 2022.

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The Future


Describe engineering in one word.



Why is engineering important in our society?

Engineering is a very broad term that includes mechanical, electrical, civil, etc.

Engineering is important to society because it emphasizes using minimal resources to complete a project while prioritizing the safety of people.

It helps people understand how to make safer, greener, and more attractive buildings, roads, bridges, etc.

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Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I see myself doing what I love and handling projects, both big and small.

I see myself working hard while enjoying the work I do and being able to meet the expectations of clients and other people.


FAQ About Civil Engineering in the Philippines


What is Civil Engineering?

Civil engineering is the application of physical and mathematical sciences to the design, construction, and maintenance of public works. It is traditionally broken into several sub-disciplines, including structural engineering, environmental engineering, and transportation engineering. Civil engineers are responsible for ensuring that safe, efficient, and cost-effective systems are in place for the movement of people and goods.

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Why Study Civil Engineering in the Philippines?

Civil engineering is a field of engineering that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of public works. These projects can include anything from bridges and roads to water treatment plants and skyscrapers. Civil engineers are responsible for ensuring that these structures are safe and efficient.

Civil engineering is a challenging and rewarding field. It offers opportunities to work on a variety of projects, both big and small. Civil engineers also have the opportunity to work in a variety of locations, including rural areas and large cities.

Civil engineering is an important field, as it helps to build the infrastructure that our society relies on. Civil engineers make our lives easier by creating safe and efficient structures that we use every day.

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What Do Pinoy Civil Engineers Do?

Civil engineers are responsible for the design and construction of public works projects, including roads, bridges, and water systems. They must be able to think creatively and solve problems efficiently in order to ensure that these structures are safe and meet the needs of the community. Civil engineers also work on projects that improve quality of life, such as parks and green spaces.

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What is the Career Path for Filipino Civil Engineers?

Civil engineers are responsible for the design and construction of public works projects, including roads, bridges, and water systems. They may also work on private projects, such as houses and office buildings. Civil engineers typically have a five-year degree in civil engineering from a university program accredited by Philippine Regulation Commission.

After graduating from college, civil engineers may start their careers as assistants to more experienced engineers. They may also work on design teams or in quality control. As they gain experience, they may move up to supervisory positions or start their own businesses. Some civil engineers teach at universities or work for engineering consulting firms.

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Why Civil Engineering is a Difficult Course in College?

Civil engineering in the Philippines is a difficult course in college because it uses complex math, logic, mental reasoning, and physical effort. Civil engineers are responsible for designing and overseeing the construction of many of the world’s largest and most important structures, such as bridges, highways, airports, and water treatment plants.

This type of work requires a great deal of knowledge in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering principles. In addition, civil engineers must be able to think critically and solve problems quickly and efficiently. This makes the coursework quite demanding, but it also prepares students for a successful career in civil engineering.

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The Future of Civil Engineering in the Philippines

Civil engineering has always been a field in which the latest technology is essential for success. In the past, civil engineers used drafting tables and rulers to create plans for bridges, roads, and other structures. Today, they use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create 3D models of projects. The future of civil engineering will continue to rely on technology.

One major trend in civil engineering is the use of drones to inspect bridges and other structures. Drones can be used to take pictures and videos of a structure from all angles. This allows civil engineers to identify any problems with a structure quickly and easily.

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Another trend in civil engineering is the use of 3D printing to create custom-made parts for projects. 3D printing can be used to create parts that are too difficult or expensive to produce using traditional methods.

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Engr. Marinel Sigue
Electronics Engineering graduate whose first love is writing. She is obsessed with anything pink and dreams of living the van life in a renovated school bus.

Engineering Topnotcher Uses a Car Battery to Study for 1 Month

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