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A paid internship with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (Penn DOT) is giving civil engineering major Jeremy Lucas ’03 (Peckville, Pa.) valuable experience that can’t be duplicated in the classroom.

For the second summer, Lucas is working for Penn DOT’s District 4-0, which covers the northeast portion of the state, through the Engineering and Scientific Technologies Intern Program. He is an inspector in the construction department.

“The internship has me going all over the counties, mostly Susquehanna, to places I never heard of, like Little Meadows and Choconut — look on the map, it’s there,” he says. “As an inspector, I act as a clerk for the state, keeping count of what the contractor does and recording it for payment. I also have to make sure they work within the given codes and specifications.”

The internship is valuable in giving Lucas first-hand experience in ‘real life’ situations, he notes. “I have inspected paving, concrete forming, and pipe laying,” he says. “It’s one thing to say a pipe is laid this way in class. Here I see what materials are used in it and the processes of putting a form down. So when you go back to design, it should be much easier. This is giving me experience in how things are actually done, which is hard to come by in most classes.”

“The challenging part of the internship is working long hours and learning how to communicate with the other inspectors as well as the contractor and its workers,” he adds. “I have to make sure they are following the right specifications and plans.”

Any college student in a technical field can apply for the position, notes Lucas, who began work May 14 and will finish the internship Aug. 17.

The technical writing learned through laboratory reports at Lafayette prepared him for the daily documentation required by the DOT job, according to Lucas. “Every lab report I’ve had to do has required concise detail,” he notes. “Those are the same type of reports I write up here at work every day to describe what happens.”

In the classroom, two professors have been “quite influential,” says Lucas. Vincent Viscomi, Simon Cameron Long Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has helped him grasp the technical and calculation aspects of civil engineering. “He’s also made me interested in structural engineering,” adds Lucas. “I’m pretty sure about what I want to do when I graduate.” David Brandes, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, has helped greatly with mastering technical writing while making labs enjoyable. “I really didn’t think I was interested in the environmental side of the major until I took a course with him,” Lucas says.

Lucas is a member of the Lafayette chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Lafayette Christian Fellowship, and the Chorduroys, the male a capalla student singing group. He also volunteered with the America Reads program through the Landis Community Outreach Center last year.

Categorized in: Academic News