February 22, 2011

The Business Side of Engineering: Students Explore a Possible Career and Tour Ground Zero

Tomas Concepcion ’11 (from left), Javauhn Caines ’12 , Shuang (Shannon) Zhao ’12, and Terry Carbaugh '82 on the 10th floor at 7 World Trade Center in Manhattan overlooking the Ground Zero construction site.

“This experience opened my eyes to the different aspects within engineering. It isn’t just designing different structures. There is the management side that deals with the organization of everything,” says civil engineering major Tomas Concepcion IV ’11 (Effort, Pa.).

Over winter break, Concepcion and six other engineering students got a closer look at the business side of the industry during an externship hosted by John Pierce ’81 of Turner Construction in New York City.

The group included civil engineering majors Christopher Kisch ’11 (Annandale, N.J.), Kaitlin Ownes ’12 (Monroe, Conn.), and Joshua Sadlock ’12 (Harrisburg, Pa.); engineering studies majors Javauhn Caines ’12 (Bronx, N.Y.) and Shuang (Shannon) Zhao ’12 (Taiyuan, China); and mechanical engineering major John Paul Bisciotti ’14 (Media, Pa.).

During the externship, the students shadowed Pierce, vice president and regional manager of Latin America and the Caribbean.  Students also spent time with Terry Carbaugh ’82, project executive for the New York business unit, and Lee Sullivan ’80, senior estimator, who guided them around the new construction at Ground Zero. Turner is the construction manager for the World Trade Center Transportation Hub project.

The students learned about Turner Construction’s corporate organization, toured construction sites, had multiple one-on-one sessions with all levels of staff including employees in the cost, engineer, and international business development departments, and learned more about résumés and the job search process.  They also listened in on a conference call that included international partners.

“During this experience, I learned what a typical workday of an engineer is like, how to market yourself in a confident and professional manner, and how to get prepared for a real job by making the most of my college education,” says Zhao.

Pierce stresses the importance of alumni hosting externships, saying, “Students need to see various career pathways to determine their own path and this experience gives them that opportunity.  It also is valuable for me because it keeps me connected with undergrads and the challenges that they are facing.”

Zhao and Concepcion both hope to work for engineering companies after they graduate.  “My future plans are to join an engineering design firm that focuses on the geotechnical aspect of different structures,” explains Concepcion.

Zhao wants to go to graduate school and earn a master’s degree in engineering management before working in a technology or engineering company. “This experience solidifies my plan of doing cost management, project management, or engineering management. It really helps to see the working environment and all the different options in the construction industry.”

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