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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Engineering students learn state of career field

Photo by Allison Bradshaw
Civil engineering industry experts share insight and answer questions about the current state of the industry at the Civil Engineering Building Thursday. 
Photo by Allison Bradshaw Civil engineering industry experts share insight and answer questions about the current state of the industry at the Civil Engineering Building Thursday. 

Students filled rooms to capacity, some standing in the aisles, to hear several prominent civil engineering experts discuss the state of the industry Thursday at the Civil Engineering Professional Day.
Experts spoke to how the civil engineering profession has developed, expected trends for the near future, and what companies expect of fresh graduates.
Robin Autenrieth, the department head of the civil engineering department, said the event began as a way to give students a way to hear from engineering practitioners.
“Professionals day started several years ago in the department and it has proven to be an excellent opportunity to bring practitioners on to campus and to give our students’ exposure to the different areas of civil engineering,” Autenrieth said.
Speakers represented each specialization area in the civil engineering department, such as construction, structural and geotechnical engineering. One of the speakers was David Zachry, the CEO of Zachry Corporation. Zachry said technology first impacted civil engineering design, but now is present in three dimensional modelling, simulations, and structural analysis. He said today’s construction and building projects can be fully integrated with GPS and other technological monitoring equipment.
“We have a project in Houston right now called the grand parkway,” Zachry said. “On that project we have our lead field engineer, who can sit in his office and get a design change on the grades of a culvert. When he hits ‘send’, the message is sent to a piece of equipment that is conducting the operation in real time and adjusts the grades without the operator even knowing that any of that is happening.”
Saad Ijaz, construction engineering masters student, said he was impressed that Zachry would take the time to come speak to students on campus.
“It is rare for a CEO of a large construction company to come down and present it himself,” Ijaz said. “It was a great insight into where the industry is headed and what skills I need to acquire to be a successful in this dynamic profession.”
Siddharth Chougule, construction engineering master’s student, attended the panel discussion and walked away with some valuable advice from the speakers.
“The speakers brought a great level of diverse industry experience,” Chougule said. “One of them advised us to not to send thank you notes or follow-ups to your prospective employers. They instead asked to take the time and effort to include the part of your conversation with him in that letter.”
Autenrieth said that the student participation in the event has always been great.
“These are professionals that are coming into town, taking their time off from the companies so we really want the students to participate,” Autenrieth said. “At the end of the panel discussion, we have a pizza party, which is another opportunity for the students to talk with the different speakers.”

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