Architecture, engineering students shadow professionals

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Faculty, students and guest speakers share their experiences and encouragement to architect and engineering students Oct. 13, 2017 at a campus luncheon in the nursing complex. Dan Dimitrio, engineering coordinator at this college, speaks about his field to students, guests and staff. Ashley Bailey

Shadowing working professionals helps students know if their chosen field is right for them.

Andrea M. Narendorf, vice president of Maestas & Associates, shares her experience working in civil engineering with students, faculty and fellow professionals. Architecture and engineering students shadowed local firms to gain hands-on experience and shared what they learned Oct. 13 at a luncheon in the nursing complex.  Ashley Bailey

By Alison Graef

More than 60 architecture and engineering students participated in this college’s fourth annual architecture and engineering job shadow day hosted by O’Connell Robertson and Alamo Colleges Foundation Oct. 13 at 20 firms in this city. 

Students met and shadowed working professionals in their field, then they and firm representatives returned to campus to share their experiences at a luncheon in the nursing complex.

Engineering freshman Alexandra Moore and two other students visited Maestas & Associates Inc., a civil engineering firm specializing in drainage and utilities.

Before student presentations, a representative from each firm introduced the firm and its primary focus. 

“We kind of focused more on the collaborative aspect of the industry,” said Andrea Narendorf, vice president of Maestas & Associates Inc. “And, on our stuff, there is never just one civil engineering firm that does a project.”

Narendorf said students learned about some of the more hidden aspects of engineering, including all of the utilities underground. She said people don’t realize the number of utilities and services under the ground in a city. 

“It’s kind of just a spaghetti bowl,” Moore said.

Moore said the experience helped her realize the local uses for civil engineering.

“It was really cool to actually see something in San Antonio, because when I think of ‘civil’ I think of bridges or the Eiffel Tower,” Moore said. “And so it was cool that I knew … exactly what she was talking about.”

Heath J. Wenrich, architect principal of RVK architects, shares his perspective about architecture to encourage students to enter the field. Architecture and engineering students shadowed professionals and shared their experiences Oct. 13, 2017 at a campus luncheon in the nursing complex. Ashley Bailey

Civil engineering sophomore Aubri Simpson and two other students visited surveying and civil engineering company Bain Medina Bain Inc.

Simpson said they were welcomed like family by the engineers, and the experience affirmed for her that civil engineering was the right career for her. She said the project manager showed the group what lies underneath the surface of this city. 

“He changed the way I view the city for the rest of my life,” Simpson said. “He said ‘OK, we’re going to peel back the surface of San Antonio and you can see the pipes underneath. You have a freshwater system, you have a sewage system,’ … He just started tearing apart San Antonio. It helped change the way I thought about engineering, and if I wasn’t convinced to be a civil engineer, Bain Medina Bain truly convinced me.”

Civil engineering sophomore David Alejandro participated in last year’s job shadow day. Alejandro said in an interview with The Ranger that he was new to engineering when he went on the job shadow last fall.

He said he had not previously considered majoring in engineering, but his experience at Bain Medina Bain Inc. convinced him to change his major.

“This was a deciding factor for my career,” Alejandro said. 

He said his experience at the firm showed him the practical importance of engineering and the impact that it has on people’s daily lives.

He said he is thankful during his daily commute that engineers designed the roads he drives on. Without good engineers, he said, his life would be much more difficult.

“I wanted to find a career that would make an impact on my world,” Alejandro said.

He said the field is diverse enough that people of varied interests can major in engineering.

“It’s a wide field, so definitely keep an open mind and see which one sparks your interest,” Alejandro said.


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