civil engineering student - summer plans!! help!!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Benny G, Jan 31, 2003.

  1. Benny G

    Benny G Second Unit

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    This would probably best be answered by a professional civil engineer, but I won't ignore everyone else. [​IMG]

    I'm a civil engineering undergrad student. I plan on going to grad school for structural engineering. I have one more year remaining after this semester til my undergrad is done.

    I have never had an internship or any full-time research experience. I have to decide what I want to and should do this summer.

    I always thought it was best to get real-life experience in a workplace. One of my professors seems to think I'd be much better off doing civil engineering related research at a university (various places throughout the U.S.). He said an internship with a company won't help me as much as participating in a research program.

    As far as pay, research would get me anywhere from $10-12 per hour. I'm not positive about an internship, but I think it'd be about $10-14, depending on various things.

    I personally think an internship would be better. I can't tell if my professor is just partial because he's a professor and been involved with research his whole career.

    Any advice?? Thanks!![​IMG]
     
  2. DavidY

    DavidY Supporting Actor

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    I'm not familar with the term, internship. Is that just work experience with a private engineering firm?

    Is the prof a registered or licensed professional engineer? I am not familar with professional engineering designations and licensing issues in the US....except that they are known as P.E. Here in Canada, we are called P.Eng. (except in Quebec).

    Was there a co-op program at your school? Cooperative programs typically offer good work experience for students while they are pursuing their undergrad degrees. My class of 70 or so students in civil, only two were co-op students. Generally, co-op students have to have very good grades in first year engineering to enter and stay in the co-op program.

    IMO, if one was an undergrad, it's probably better to go directly to graduate studies immediately to do research or earn money as teaching assistants (here in Canada anyways). I think that it's likely tougher for an undergrad to go work in an engineering office for more than a couple of years and then go back to get their masters or doctorate....but that's me. On the other hand, it's a good way to get some real world experience and then go back to research or graduate studies for something that you really want to pursue or research....may get you more motivated in something specific.

    I'm sure that other professional engineers can comment as well...not just civil ones.

    Dave
     
  3. Benny G

    Benny G Second Unit

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    When I say internship, I mean: work for a CE company for the summer, likely doing much of the same stuff a coop student would.

    I do intend to go directly to graduate school after undergrad. (I still have two summers before I start grad school.)
     
  4. Karl_Luph

    Karl_Luph Supporting Actor

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    Here's some advice you might consider that can come in handy later on in your career as a P.E. I'm sure you've had to take a couple of land surveying courses at the university you attend. By actually working on a field crew for a summer, doing hands on land surveying work, will prepare you to understand more about what's entailed on the jobs you eventually will be doing the civil engineering work on. I can't tell you how many civil engineering students I've worked with that appreciated this suggestion later after they got their P.E. degree . Alot of civil engineering firms also run a land surveying business, so this could prove beneficial for you to get your foot in the door. Know Autocad is excellent too! Good luck sir, on your quest!
     
  5. Mike OConnell

    Mike OConnell Second Unit

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    Benny:

    I am a Senior Civil Engineer at a fairly large engineering firm (1600 employees) and I am also the Section President of the local American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) chapter. I am actually a water supply engineer, but I am directly involved with interviewing prospective employees for our firm.

    If you want to go into research as your life ambition - do the research work during the summer.

    If you want to work at a consulting engineering firm either get an intern job for the summer OR work for a contractor that works on buildings/structures for the summer.

    Getting your MS is a great idea, but we look much more favorably on a student with a MS degree AND with real-world experince as an intern or in structural construction than a student with a MS degree and summer of research experience.

    One of the biggest weaknesses of the students coming out of graduate school is their ability to grasp how things are actually built in the real world and the relationships between structural engineering needs and the electrical, mechanical, process, etc. parts of a building or facility.

    Get some experience in the "real world". You and your future employer will be glad you did.

    Good Luck,
    Mike
     
  6. Karl_Luph

    Karl_Luph Supporting Actor

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    Good advice Mike. Nothing beats good old fashioned hands on work in the real world. Something you just can't quite grasp in a mountain of textbooks. Good luck Benny G.!
     
  7. Lee L

    Lee L Supporting Actor

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    I agree, go to work for a Structural firm or even a general contractor or steel fabricator or erector. I work for a GC and can tell you that many times a developer or contractor will use an engineering firm and they will design things like they are taught in school without regard to the costs involved. They will not be used again. The engineers who design good buildings that also take into account the needs of the developer/owner and the cost of the steel or concrete used are the ones that are sucessful and continue to work.
     
  8. DarrinH

    DarrinH Second Unit

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    I also agree, go for the real world experience unless you intend on being an instructor in the future.

    A surveying internship would have been perfect for my profession, (roadway designer) but for yours I am not sure how much you would benefit. Stick to something close to your future area of practice as Lee L suggested.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  9. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    Make sure the internship involves real engineering work. If the company doesn't technically interview you then watch out!
     
  10. David_Moechnig

    David_Moechnig Stunt Coordinator

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    As a fellow engineering student (mechanical) I highly suggest working for an engineering firm during summers and if possible do a co-op. I have worked for Quincy Compressor every summer since I've been in school as well as a
    co-op and I believe that the experience has been extremely valuable. Straight A's can only get you so far in the workplace but real life experience will help get you ahead of the majority of new engineers. I have been told by several recruiters that despite my less that stellar grades that my work experience more than makes up for it.


    David Moechnig
     
  11. Benny G

    Benny G Second Unit

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    A big thank you to everyone who gave suggestions. I heard what I was hoping to hear. I would much rather get an internship. I thought (and still think) it'd be more interesting and would look better on my resume.
     
  12. Benny G

    Benny G Second Unit

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    I would have strongly consider doing a co-op, but I didn't know about it in time. My advisor isn't too up on things, and I didn't start out as a CE major (Landscape Architecture). I think at my school you have to commit to three semester of work.
     

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