Engineering interns explore overseas construction
Ryan Deising, Adriann Wilson, Ariel Dowdy and Brian O'Conner represent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District's 18th class of Advancing Minorities' Interest in Engineering student interns. The group took a break from work to check out the view of downtown Frankfurt - sightseeing is a perk of their summer assignment in Wiesbaden, Germany.

WIESBADEN, Germany -- Venturing far from home, school, friends and family, four U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District interns arrived here in early June. Ariel Dowdy, Ryan Deising, Adriann Wilson and Brian O'Conner were selected as the district's 18th class of Advancing Minorities' Interest in Engineering student interns.

AMIE is a nonprofit organization working with corporate, government and academic partners to attract, educate, graduate and place minority students in engineering careers. The district's 2014 interns -- three pursuing undergraduate engineering degrees from historically black colleges and universities and one pursuing a master's degree online -- talked to Engineering in Europe this month about their field, the AMIE internship, the Corps of Engineers, Europe and themselves.

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Name: Ariel Dowdy
School: Alabama A&M University
Degree: Mechanical engineering

EiE: Why did you choose to be an engineer?

Dowdy: My story starts in high school. We had five different pathways or tracks. I went toward mechanics and technology. That is where I learned drafting, design and computer-aided design. My teachers influenced me a lot. I have always been good with math and numbers. That led me to engineering.

EiE: What drew you to the AMIE internship?

Dowdy: It was outside of the country! I wanted to get out and explore. Plus, the internship has a lot to do with my major.

EiE: How has your time with the Army Corps of Engineers helped prepare you for a job in engineering?

Dowdy: This is a professional environment. Being here gives me a good idea of what to expect when I actually enter the career field. I am working on construction project sites, so it gives me a good idea of what my job will be like if I go into construction management or project engineering. I like being out in the field and not sitting at a computer all day.

EiE: What was the highlight of your European experience?

Dowdy: We got lost. I will never forget that. Leaving Cologne, we got on the wrong train, and ended up in Trier. We slept outside the train station. That taught me I need to learn German and pay attention to my surroundings.

EiE: What did you learn from your internship?

Dowdy: The life of a project engineer is chaotic and intense!

EiE: Why should prospective employers hire you?

Dowdy: I'm a dedicated worker. I'm very determined, even if I don't know something I will figure it out. I put a lot of effort into what I do. If it's not perfect, I'll make it perfect.

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Name: Ryan Deising
School: Jackson State University
Degree: Civil engineering

EiE: Why did you choose to be an engineer?

Deising: My high school offered a pre-engineering program that showed me the different facets of engineering, architecture and construction. I liked the civil part because we got to do some surveying and learn new computer software. That piqued my interest.

EiE: What drew you to the AMIE internship?

Deising: I learned about the opportunity through a previous AMIE intern, Michael Gray-Lewis. He kept bugging me to apply. He said the program was the best opportunity for a college student and it was the best summer of his life. So I read the application criteria, and I knew I could do it. The internship has worked out really well so far. I have been broadening my horizons and getting to travel.

EiE: How has your time with the Army Corps of Engineers helped prepare you for a job in engineering?

Deising: This opportunity is preparing me for the professional environment and getting me used to the inner workings of the government. I am an upcoming junior, and I haven't chosen my specialty in civil engineering yet. Here, I get to work with different civil engineers and get mentoring advice. I even have a Corps of Engineers home district in Nashville, Tennessee, so maybe this internship will open up doors there in the future.

EiE: What was the highlight of your European experience?

Deising: I drove all the way from Wiesbaden to Paris. My group thought we had rented an automatic vehicle, but we rented a manual because that is all you can get here. I had only driven manual one time back home and not even on a main street. I drove the rental car all the way to Paris. I loved the whole trip.

EiE: What did you learn from your internship?

Deising: I was pleasantly surprised by this internship because I have been able to get my hands on actual projects. I have done some design work. I worked directly with project managers to draw from scratch, or revise designs. I actually put my name on the drawings, so that is great experience for me.

EiE: Why should prospective employers hire you?

Deising: One thing I have learned from balancing football -- I play football for my university -- and full-time engineering is I never want to be complacent. I always want to be a step ahead. I can't be average; I strive to be better than the player or student next to me. I want to be an asset to my team. I want a future employer to know they would be lucky to have me.

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Name: Adriann Wilson
School: Tennessee State University
Degree: Mechanical engineering

EiE: Why did you choose to be an engineer?

Wilson: I was really good at math, so somebody suggested I try engineering. So I tried it, and I was good at it and stuck with it.

EiE: What drew you to the AMIE internship?

Wilson: I was an AMIE student last summer in South Korea. So when I saw the announcement for Germany, I applied. I actually applied for Germany last year and didn't get it. So I was excited to get it this year.

EiE: How has your time with the Army Corps of Engineers helped prepare you for a job in engineering?

Wilson: This is really helping me decide what I want to do. Before last summer, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my degree. But now I know I want to go to graduate school for construction management and be a project manager.

EiE: What was the highlight of your European experience?

Wilson: Besides getting lost in Trier with the other interns, I had a very memorable work experience. Jason Cade, my mentor, and me were presenting the status of a project to an Army general. We had a visual aid poster board with all the project information on it. All of a sudden, during the presentation, a gust of wind blew the board down into the construction site. It was gone, and we still had to update the general without it.

EiE: What did you learn from your internship?

Wilson: Project managers are involved in everything. The world of project management is intense.

EiE: Why should prospective employers hire you?

Wilson: If I can earn an engineering degree, I can do anything.

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Name: Brian O'Conner
School: Western Carolina University
Degree: Master's in construction management

EiE: Why did you choose to be an engineer?

O'Conner: Rather than me choosing engineering, it was the other way around; engineering chose me. Thinking back to high school, the subjects I was most frustrated with were the ones where I would get a grade -- for instance, in English -- and I was never satisfied with the teacher's description of why I got that grade. But with math or science, I could see exactly why I got the grade I did. That steered me toward engineering. It was the right decision for me, and I continue to enjoy it.

EiE: What drew you to the AMIE internship?

O'Conner: The fact that the internship was in Germany was huge. The fact that housing was provided was also huge. Otherwise, it would not have been financially possible.

EiE: How has your time with the Army Corps of Engineers helped prepare you for a job in engineering?

O'Conner: When I think about post-school employment, I want to rule things in and rule things out. This is a chance to do that. I had never worked for the Corps of Engineers before, but I heard a lot about the organization. I wanted to see for myself what it's about. It has been excellent to see how the Corps works. It is a huge organization with a lot of tentacles reaching out across Europe and the rest of the world.

EiE: What was the highlight of your European experience?

O'Conner: Getting by in a different culture with a different language. The first weeks were tough, but now I don't even notice the things that were in front of my face in the first few days and weeks. Everything is a lot smoother after six weeks here.

EiE: What did you learn from your internship?

O'Conner: I got a chance to be involved in planning, which is something I have never done before. I attended an Auto Skills Center planning charette in Stuttgart. It was a really intense four days with so many different parties involved in the design process.

EiE: Why should prospective employers hire you?

O'Conner: As a member of the Air National Guard, I try to model my professional life around the Air Force core values: integrity, service and excellence. I mean what I say; I put service before self; I strive for excellence in all I do.

Page last updated Thu July 31st, 2014 at 06:19