On March 27, the University of Connecticut chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) hosted its annual career fair in the Lewis B. Rome Ballroom. Over 40 regional civil and environmental engineering employers attended the event with the goal of recruiting entry-level engineers and interns from among the student population at UConn. The large number of exhibitors – double the number participating in last year’s career fair – reflects a palpable surge in the demand for civil and environmental engineers within the region. The CEE senior class of just 40 students who will graduate in May ’07 underscores the disparity between the demand for, versus the supply of, skilled civil and environmental engineers.
Keith Kesner (B.S.E. ’92), Ph.D., P.E. – a senior engineer with Whitlock Dalrymple Posten & Associates (WDP), Inc., a prominent consulting engineering firm with offices in Virginia, Texas and Connecticut – noted that demand for qualified engineers is increasing nationwide. While some companies may find relief in hiring overseas, Dr. Kesner commented that because WDP & Associates focuses largely on evaluation and repair of existing structures – some dating to the 1700s – the company recruits employees locally whenever possible. To improve its chances in the recruiting arena, WDP & Associates offers higher salaries and invests greater energy in careful recruiting, training and retention programs, he said.
Senior Jenna Nichols (CEE ’07), treasurer of the student chapter of ASCE, said her experiences with the Career Fair have afforded her exceptional opportunities. Though she will return to UConn in the fall to pursue graduate studies, Ms. Nichols received a job offer from Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB), one of two companies with whom she interned during her undergraduate years. Ms. Nichols said her internships allowed her to explore two divergent areas of civil engineering – construction management and site design – before plotting a career path. In so doing, she gained insight into the working world and her own career aspirations. “Having one or more internships allows you to connect classroom instruction with the real world, to distinguish yourself through practical experience, and to build valuable networking connections,” she commented.
Senior Benjamin Cote (CEE ’07), president of the ASCE student chapter, commented that this year the fair attracted a large number of underclassmen seeking internships. He said that “most of them have already received several replies and offers from companies.”
Ms. Nichols agreed that even freshmen should attend the Career Fair to explore internship opportunities and speak with representatives from the diverse companies exhibiting.
Plans are already underway for the 2007-08 Career Fair. The UConn ASCE chapter has proposed staging the fair twice yearly: during the fall and earlier in the spring semester to assure employers and students greater opportunities to meet and discuss career and internship opportunities before commitments are made. The chapter also plans to encourage more freshmen and sophomores to attend so they can gain earlier exposure to the employers and available internships.
The complete list of participating companies may be found on the Career Fair website, athttp://www.engr.uconn.edu/~ceeasce/cf.htm.