GHA Summer Internship Program 2024: Embracing the Future of Engineering

 

Since its inception in 1985, Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA)’s Summer Internship Program has been instrumental in developing future professionals across various disciplines. This summer, GHA welcomes its biggest intern class yet – 15 enthusiastic individuals eager to delve into the full spectrum of GHA’s offerings. This includes various aspects of civil engineering, construction & surveying, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), human resources, and marketing. The program provides a comprehensive experience, exposing interns to the diverse range of expertise that contributes to GHA’s success.

Orientation and Onboarding

The 2024 GHA Summer Internship Program officially launched this week with orientation and onboarding activities. Art Penn, P.E., President/C.O.O., kicked off the program with introductions, sharing his extensive company history and highlighting the diverse career paths available at GHA. He emphasized that the goal of the program is to provide experience outside of the classroom. “Be curious, ask questions, try to learn and engage as much as possible,” Art advised the new interns.

Anika Moore, MAIO, C.P.O., followed with a discussion on the high value GHA places on the internship program, noting how many current employees started as interns. She emphasized the program’s value and shared her advice with the new interns: “Ask questions. We’re here to help teach and support you every step of the way. Don’t be afraid to seek guidance. Get as much experience as possible and take advantage of every opportunity to learn.”

The first day’s activities included a thrilling Lego-building competition. Divided into three teams, the interns were each given a Lego set and challenged to construct it as quickly as possible. The competitive spirit filled the air as teams scrambled to sort bricks, delegate tasks, and work together to bring their Lego creations to life. This exercise added a fun twist to the onboarding process while also helping the interns bond over a shared challenge and develop essential teamwork skills under pressure. “The Lego challenge was the perfect icebreaker,” said Caylie Chattin, an intern from Illinois State University in the Marketing Department. “It taught us the importance of clear communication and teamwork, which are crucial in engineering projects.”

Comprehensive Training

As part of their first-week orientation, the interns participate in classes that offer a comprehensive introduction to the world of civil engineering. These include:

  • CAD Class: The CAD class focuses on GHA’s CAD standards and the importance of proper layer management for efficient project workflow AutoCAD and Civil 3D. Interns learn to create precise engineering drawings, understand the fundamentals of layers and properties, and explore various drafting platforms such as MicroStation. The course covers commands like Scale, Mirror, and Join, providing a strong foundation in both 2D and 3D drafting techniques.
  • Survey Class: The Survey Class offers insights into fundamental surveying techniques. Interns learn about various survey equipment and receive practical training on how to use these tools in the field. This hands-on experience includes understanding how to set up and operate equipment, as well as learning to collect and analyze survey data accurately.
  • Construction Engineering Class: The Construction Engineering class introduces interns to the principles of construction management and field operations. Interns receive training on the various equipment they will see and its applications, learn about utility installation for water mains and sewers, and explore excavation, grading, and subgrade preparation. The course also covers aggregate subbase materials, concrete mix designs, and paving techniques. Additionally, interns gain practical knowledge in hot-mix asphalt, milling, resurfacing, and survey techniques essential for successful construction projects.
  • SESC & EOPC Class: The SESC & EOPC class focuses on soil erosion and sediment control, providing an overview of erosion processes and mandated improvements. Interns learn about best management practices, the engineer’s opinion of probable cost (EOPC), and the importance of accurate cost estimation. The course includes practical exercises such as determining line items, calculating quantities for hot-mix asphalt and trench backfill, and preparing EOPC utilizing provided unit prices. This comprehensive training ensures interns understand the critical aspects of erosion control and cost estimation in civil engineering projects.
  • GIS Class: The GIS class provides an overview of the Geospatial Division, including field data collection, in-house data processing, and municipal data management. Interns learn about the applications of geographic information systems, such as high-accuracy data collection using drones and Trimble devices, and data integration with ArcGIS. The course also covers client GIS data services and customized web maps, equipping interns with valuable skills in GIS technology and its practical uses in engineering.

These core classes provide interns with a well-rounded foundation in both the technical and practical aspects of civil engineering. “The classes were incredibly insightful,” shared Tyler Staples, a Civil Engineering Major at Marquette University. “They’ve given me a deeper understanding of the various aspects of civil engineering and how they all interconnect.”

Success Stories

The Summer Internship Program’s success is reflected in the stories of former interns who have transitioned to full-time roles at GHA. Brian Wesolowski, P.E., CFM now the Director of the Site Design Division shared, “The internship program at GHA was a pivotal moment in my career. The hands-on experience and mentorship I received prepared me for my current role and beyond.” Similarly, Carissa Smith, P.E. a Project Manager in the Municipal Services Division, remarked, “Participating in the internship gave me a deep understanding of the various facets of civil engineering. It was instrumental in my decision to join GHA full-time.”

Don Matthews, P.E., CFM, Vice President/Principal, who was the program’s second intern in 1986, emphasized the program’s value: “The GHA internship program has been a vital part of our firm’s success, providing technical skills and practical experience. I’ve seen countless interns grow into skilled professionals. With the 40th anniversary of the program on the horizon, it’s incredible to reflect on the impact it’s had on so many young engineers.”

Real-World Experience

Throughout the summer, the interns will engage in real-world projects, working alongside GHA professionals to gain firsthand experience in problem-solving and project management. This practical exposure is strengthened by site visits, where interns can observe ongoing projects and see the application of engineering principles in real-world scenarios.

At the end of the program, interns will share their experiences and learnings with GHA staff and colleagues, showcasing the projects they worked on throughout the internship. This opportunity highlights their achievements while providing them with valuable experience in public speaking and professional communication. Last year’s presentations offered a glimpse into the diverse experiences of the interns, from using survey equipment for the first time to working with advanced engineering software. “Presenting my summer project was both challenging and rewarding,” recalled Kevin Dumiter, a returning intern in the Site Design and Water Resources Division. “It was a great way to reflect on what I learned and to share my journey with others.”

Continued Commitment

As the program unfolds, the interns will have the opportunity to experience projects and activities that challenge and inspire them. GHA’s Summer Internship Program is more than just an introduction to civil engineering; it’s an opportunity to develop practical skills, build professional relationships, and explore the multifaceted nature of our field. With the program’s continued growth, GHA remains committed to providing interns with the chance to make a real impact through real-world experience.